Owing to the History of Media and the Press in Africa, the media in Africa has undergone several transitions to be what it is today. If there is anything to be celebrated, we owe it to the forerunners such as Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana; who played significant roles in the press freedom that we have today.
Challenges and lapses
There have been grey areas which are not being tackled around press freedom. These areas include, violence against journalists, low wages among pressmen, suppression of news by external influences, and the spread of fake news among media owners and its personnel. These limitations inhibit the smooth operations of the press resulting from the unfriendly media environments which journalists operate in.
Situations and Instances
In Ghana for instance, the murder of Ahmed Suale, an investigative journalist, following threats, still remains a shock. Even on this day of World Press Freedom, journalists and media personnel across the globe are being attacked and jailed for their publications. According to Amal Clooney, a human rights lawyer and the Special Envoy for media freedom in London, in the last five years we’ve seen the highest number of journalists imprisoned than at any times. These scenarios pose the question of whether the media is indeed free or not.
Media for democracy
This year’s theme for the World Press Freedom Day is, “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”. This theme indicates how the media is powerful in setting the agenda in all democratic processes, including elections. Therefore, there is the need for effective training of journalists to understand the consequences of spreading false information before, during and after elections. We need more bold and passionate journalists who will be truthful and accurate in their reportage.
All hands on deck
Media owners, their personnel and media institutions must join hands to report mishaps, especially in the electoral processes, and must avoid spinning propaganda which may cause conflicts in the society. Reporters should also aim at being factual and evidence based at all times so that the quest for media freedom will not just be a charade but a reality for posterity to remember.