PRESIDENT Hage Geingob has urged the media to play a central role in deepening democracy, unity and social cohesion.
In a press statement released today to mark World Press Freedom Day, the president said: “As the fourth estate, the press is a core partner in our governance architecture.”
“The potential of the press to deepen accountability and trust should be harnessed by quality journalism that informs citizens on the basis of facts,” he added.
With Namibia’s recent reclamation of its number one position on press freedom in Africa and the country’s impending general elections, this year’s World Press Freedom Day theme: ‘Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation’ is befitting for the 26th celebration of the day.
Although the World Press Freedom Day is today, (3 May), Namibia will officially commemorate the day on 7 May at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
Deputy minister of information and communication technology Engelbrecht Nawatiseb is slated to deliver the official speech on the day.
The World Press Freedom Day global conference, which runs from 1-3 May, is currently underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the African Union headquarters. Namibia Media Trust (NMT) executive chairperson Gwen Lister, and strategic coordinator Zoe Titus are attending the conference.
“Journalism has changed from the days when goal was objectivity,” Lister said, speaking on a panel discussing ‘Media, Public Trust and the Crisis of Democracy’. “Mainstream media has shifted from the “who, what, when, where” to the “why”. It’s time for journalists to acknowledge that they write from a set of values and not simply a disinterested effort at truth.”
Titus contributed to a discussion on the findings of the 7th edition of the Afro Barometer, a pan-African series of national public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, and society. Titus said the decline of trust in media has implications for free speech.
“The promotion of a free and independent media, as articulated in the 1991 Windhoek Declaration, which gave birth to the World Press Freedom Day, is more imperative than ever,” she said.
Chairperson of the Editors’ Forum of Namibia (EFN) Joseph Ailonga reiterated that this year’s theme is befitting for Namibia’s current setting.
“The theme speaks to us rightly,” he said. “We are in an election year and democracy must prevail.”
Ailonga said in order for democracy to prevail the electorate must be well informed to exercise their democratic rights properly, adding that with misinformation, mistakes can be made which in turn could lead a country to autocracy or dictatorship.
“It is also important to pause and reflect on whether we are on the right track in terms of press freedom,” he said.
Ailonga further said World Press Freedom Day is an important day for journalists because it recognises their hard work in very difficult circumstances.
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Publish date : 2019-05-03 16:55:13