Ramaphosa calls for free, responsible media

Intimidating journalists is not only “unacceptable but harmful to a free society as well,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on…

Intimidating journalists is not only “unacceptable but harmful to a free society as well,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

Ramaphosa said this in his weekly message to the nation as the country joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Press Freedom Day which falls on every 3 May worldwide.

The president condemned attacks directed towards journalists, especially female ones, for merely doing their work, saying that the media’s responsibility to support democracy needed to have journalists who continued to “report without fear or favour on the issues of the day.”  

“The South African media has played a pivotal role in uncovering much of what we know today about the true extent of state capture by exposing self-serving, corrupt individuals and entities,” Ramaphosa said.

He added: “Their sustained coverage must include gender-based violence, crime in our communities, and social ills like substance abuse.”

The South African leader, however, said the media “should provide accurate and impartial information, enabling the public to make informed decisions to access opportunities and improve their lives.”

“They (media) should continue to produce journalism that goes beyond the headlines and front pages, and contribute to human development. The media should report on both the good and the bad events, the progress we make and the challenges we face,” he said.

Ramaphosa encouraged the media to uphold its credibility which was key to sustaining trust between journalists and the public.

“When journalists allow themselves or their platforms to be used to fight political battles or settle scores on behalf of vested interests, their credibility suffers.

“When media disseminate stories that are inaccurate or that they know are false, the public loses faith in them. It is in the best interest of all who love this country and wish for it to succeed that our media is supported — and not hindered — in its work,” he said.

In proclaiming World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 1993, the UN said the occasion acted as a reminder to governments – whose security agents were the main offenders of press freedom – of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom.

The day is also a time of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics, the UN said.

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