Sunday, July 25, 2010

Is the fight for press freedom a lost battle?

The news links below are only a few samples of dozens of reports that we read everyday about how journalists are being gagged and how press freedom is under constant compromise. It leaves one despondent as to whether Africa and the world at large will ever get the winning formula.

Chilly winds are blowing around South African media

FXI condemns Protection of Information Bill in present form

New law may force reporters to reveal sources

Swazi station forced to stop televising religious program

Ivory Coast journalists charged following corruption story

Somali government steps up media crackdown

The answer, sadly is "No." Universal, untainted press freedom will always be a pipe dream, utopian ideal that is likely to remain in the journalistic womb, never to be born into the real world. Whenever we think we have it right in one place, we hear of other places where journalists and writers have been jailed, where publications have been forcibly shut down, and oppressive press laws introduced. While it is true that checks and balances need to be in place to avoid irresponsible, malicious and false reporting, the law is often abused to prevent the populace from knowing about the underhanded ways of their so-called leaders.

Is it therefore futile to attempt to stem this onslaught on free journalism by shameless haters of the truth? Is it time for us to admit that the sword has overcome the pen? Absolutely not. Although total press freedom has and never will be a reality, the pen has claimed the heads of many despots and brought enlightenment to many. Without the many brave, honest and often suffering slaves of the keyboard, the world would be far from a better place. Hopefully as we venture deeper into the electronic information highway, these oppressors will lose their grubby grip, overwhelmed by the information traffic that threatens to run them over, should they insist on standing in its way.


  1. Whoever it is driving these laws they are proposing it is too little and obviously too late, the internet genie is out of the bottle and no one has the power to put that one back.

    There are many governments around the World from China and Iran through to the USA who would like to suppress the truth which has set the internet community free,- they have no chance now, unless they show their hand as an enemy of freedom and Democracy and fight the pen with their swords.


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