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