On Friday, May 1, the press was busy covering the International Labour Day celebrations! Today, we wonder who will cover us. By us, we mean the press. Ok, we shall do it ourselves. Today is our day. We celebrate the World Press Freedom Day.
The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day for many reasons. Among them was to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press.
It was also meant to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.
Journalists many a time are harassed. They are seen as a danger especially by those who might have negative agendas as they are sure the journalist will try to foil the agendas. Many people appreciate it when the media covers their good works.
They will even enjoy the limelight. The relationship turns sour when the media also uncovers any dubious dealings.
What the public should know is that the media is its friend. It portrays what society is.
If society is clean, the media will portray that. If it’s rotten, it will portray that too. It’s because of the media’s nature that some governments and institutions try to stifle it so that it can leave out the rotten bits!!!
It’s therefore wonderful to note that the World Press Freedom Day is celebrated. It’s in recognition of the press’ important role and its many challenges in expressing itself.
The press should therefore not abuse its freedom.
We should always be objective in our reporting so that we serve our purpose well. In Rwanda, the media played a terrible role in fuelling the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which claimed over a million lives.
Development was set back by decades. The media should therefore, as evidenced in the last 15 years, be part of the rebuilding process. In many parts of the world, journalists are sometimes killed, jailed or tortured by the state.
It’s great not to have similar cases in Rwanda. We should always press on for our freedom of speech while commemorating those that perish in the line of duty. We should not take this day for granted.