] Watch] Civil So­ci­ety Cape Town: Me­dia on the Move (1)

Ha­jiya Bilk­isu

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

he beau­ti­ful city of Cape Town in South Africa hosted this year’s an­nual Congress of the in­ter­na­tional Press In­sti­tute IPI. The in­sti­tute is the global fo­rum of me­dia ex­ec­u­tives and pro­pri­etors and the old­est global me­dia non gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion. The venue of the 63rd Congress was Westin Ho­tel op­po­site the Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in the city’s busi­ness district. It held from April 11 to 15 2014 drew par­tic­i­pants from all con­ti­nents. Most of the mem­bers of the Nige­rian del­e­ga­tion trav­elled on April 10 to ar­rive in time for the work­shop ses­sions sched­uled for the fol­low­ing day. In the del­e­ga­tion were Mal­lam Is­maila Isa of New Africa Hold­ings and Chair­man of Nige­rian In­sti­tute of Jour­nal­ism. Mr Ra­heem Ade­doyin, Sec­re­tary of IPI Nigeria chap­ter, Mr Mike Awoy­infa, Pub­lisher, Ex­press Multimedia, Eniola Bello, Man­ag­ing Dire­ce­tor of ThisDay News­pa­per. Also in the del­e­ga­tion were Malam Mo­hammed Haruna a colum­nist with Daily Trust, Malam Kabiru Yusuf the Chair­man of Daily Trust and IPI board mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Nigeria, Malam Wada Maida, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Fin­ley Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Mal Garba Shehu of People’s Daily news­pa­pers.

The open­ing cer­e­mony be­gan with wel­come re­marks from the host or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sented by by Mr.Tim Du Plessis, Ex­ec­u­tive Edi­tor, Afrikaans News, Me­dia24, South Africa the Key­note ad­dress was de­liv­ered by Obed Bapela, Deputy Min­is­ter, Depart­ment of Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor­ing and Eval­u­a­tion, the Pres­i­dency of South Africa. The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the in­ter­na­tional Press In­sti­tute, Ali­son Bethel McKen­zie, pre­sented her re­port ti­tled ‘the State of Press Free­dom World­wide’. The re­port re­viewed the de­vel­op­ments on the global me­dia scene. She re­called that IPI held its last World Congress in Cape Town 20 years ago at a time when the vast ma­jor­ity of South Africans had few rights, were ex­cluded from the coun­try’s im­mense pros­per­ity, and the me­dia were un­der hor­rific pres­sure not to rock the boat. In many other African na­tions like Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tan­za­nia ... jour­nal­ists strug­gled un­der the grip of strong­men. To­day, these coun­tries boast some of the most dy­namic me­dia

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mar­kets on the con­ti­nent. The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor also ob­served that ‘when IPI was last in Cape Town, it was rel­a­tively easy to halt a news­pa­per ... you break the presses, con­fis­cate the press run or put a lock on the news­pa­per of­fice. That still hap­pens. Just re­cently in Sudan, se­cu­rity agents con­fis­cated the press­runs of nearly a dozen news­pa­pers. In Egypt, they out­lawed the Free­dom and Jus­tice news­pa­per and sev­eral broad­cast­ers.’ How­ever the ray of hope came from the so­cial me­dia. In spite of these ero­sion of press free­dom, the dig­i­tal me­dia is play­ing the role od cat­alyzer. So­cial me­dia fu­elled the Arab Spring, last year’s Turk­ish protests, and Ukraine’s most re­cent revo­lu­tion and also helped jour­nal­ists to stay ahead of the story.’

Ali­son Bethel Macken­zie also high­lighted the risks faced by jour­nal­ists as they go about try­ing to col­late news and views with some mak­ing the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice. Sadly the toll is high. She iden­ti­fied Syria as the dead­li­est coun­try for our pro­fes­sion for two years run­ning with16 jour­nal­ists killed in 2013 and 39 in 2012. In ad­di­tion to those who are killed, dozens more have been wounded or held cap­tive. ‘Even in coun­tries not in the throes of a ter­ri­ble civil war, like Syria, jour­nal­ists walk with tar­gets on their backs. In the Philip­pines, at least 13 jour­nal­ists died on the job last year, 11 in In­dia and six in Brazil. All in all, IPI tracked 119 jour­nal­ists killed in the line of duty ... a slight de­cline from the 133 who died in 2012 but nonethe­less an ap­palling toll. So far this year, more than 20 have ei­ther been killed while on the job or died while on duty.’ The hall was quiet and a pen­sive mood de­scended on the au­di­ence.

How­ever the congress was not all about sad tales of our me­dia he­roes, there were in­ter­est­ing ses­sions lined up on the pro­gramme. The first ses­sion was” A look at Africa through three sets of eyes.’ It was a con­ver­sa­tion with for­mer Pres­i­dent of South Africa Mr. F.W. de Klerk who won a No­bel prize for peace along­side out­stand­ing states­man and anti apartheid ac­tivist, late Mr. Nel­son Man­dela.

The mod­er­a­tor was Fe­rial Haf­fa­jee, Edi­tor-in-chief, City Press, Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa. The pan­elists were Osy Ezechuk­wun­yere Nwebo, Di­rec­tor of bureau, Pan African Par­lia­ment, Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa and Mostefa Souag, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Al Jazeera Me­dia Net­work, Doha, Qatar.

Mr De Klerk said South Africa had made im­mense progress since the end of apartheid high­light­ing the fact that apartheid had to give way to a truly demo­cratic coun­try be­cause it was un­just, im­moral and un­sus­tain­able.

An IPI part­ner in host­ing the Congress, Kon­rad Ade­nauer Stiftung, KAS sup­ported a ses­sion on

Crim­i­nal Defama­tion and In­sult Laws - Why Lead­ers Won’t Budge.

The ses­sion was an­chored by Ali­son Me­ston, di­rec­tor, global cam­paigns, WANIFRA, Paris, France. It has four pan­elists:Jenni Camp­bell, pres­i­dent, Press As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­maica; man­ag­ing edi­tor, The Gleaner Com­pany, Kingston, Ja­maica, Jus­tine Limpit­law, elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tant, Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa, Osy Nwebo, di­rec­tor of bureau, Pan African Par­lia­ment, Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa and John Year­wood, world edi­tor, The Mi­ami Herald, Mi­ami, USA

The congress noted that Crim­i­nal defama­tion laws re­main on the books in coun­tries through­out the world, of­ten left over from the colo­nial era and viewed in many parts of the world to­day as an­ti­quated and re­pres­sive. Yet, in some na­tions lead­ers hold tight to crim­i­nal defama­tion laws and ar­gue that they are the only way to de­ter ‘way­ward’ and ‘rogue’ jour­nal­ists. What is their ar­gu­ment to keep these laws and how do they bal­ance the ideals of democ­racy with the jail­ing of jour­nal­ists?

The third ses­sion was ti­tled

Me­dia and the Un­end­ing Ques­tion of Ethics: A Look To­wards So­lu­tions’ It was mod­er­ated by Galina Si­dorova,

chair, IPI Ex­ec­u­tive Board; chair­per­son, Foun­da­tion for In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­is­mFoun­da­tion 19/29, Moscow, Rus­sia The ses­sion was ‘ about jour­nal­ists and whole me­dia en­ti­ties tak­ing po­lit­i­cal sides, be­ing bi­ased or un­fair and some­times them­selves be­ing di­rectly in­volved in po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and/or re­li­gious con­flicts. It’s about a grow­ing trend to­wards turn­ing away from me­dia ethics in pur­suit of a scoop. How should jour­nal­ists be­have in rev­o­lu­tion­ary times? In times of mass protests? How do you avoid be­ing used and how do you with­stand the pres­sure of au­thor­i­ties? The ques­tions are many. And 20 years af­ter the Rwanda geno­cide fu­elled by un­eth­i­cal me­dia reporting, many jour­nal­ists in tur­bu­lent parts of the world con­tinue to face eth­i­cal is­sues - from Cairo to Venezuela to Rus­sia and Ukraine. The panel ad­dressed the is­sue of ethics, while also ad­dress­ing the im­pact on­line me­dia has had on jour­nal­ism’s code, with an eye to­ward con­crete so­lu­tions to get­ting me­dia back on the right track.

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