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Jailing, killing journalists will not stop the story

By | February 18th 2010

This years report from the watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) makes chilling reading.

In the margin, there are notes: "Three journalists killed in 2010 and 801 journalists killed since 1992; 516 journalists murdered with impunity since 1992 and 47 journalists imprisoned in Iran".

Now that is not light reading. It represents a profession under siege from intolerant regimes, State apathy, dictatorship and narrow-mindedness associated with control freaks.

Last year, a record 70 journalists died, making it the worst year in 30 years, says the CPJ. All they were trying to do was bring some report, some story or picture to our newsstands or the studio. A particularly vicious one was the massacre of 31 scribes in Philippines on January 23.

Also, 150 journalists are serving jail time in Burma, Iran, Eritrea and China. Many others are living in exile after being threatened, maimed or otherwise ‘discouraged’ from working.

In Kenya, there is a push-pull, love-hate relationship with the Establishment that has seen journalists’ tools of trade confiscated, media ejected from events and even legislation forced through to gag practitioners.

Fourth Estate

Censorship and repression needs to be addressed through the constitution else media will explore alternative vehicles to carry their message.

A free operating environment will certainly encourage professionalism, self-regulation, a better-informed citizenry and ultimately, a more cohesive global village. Without doubt, a free Press is essential in society and has been ranked the Fourth Estate.

Democracy must stop taking a beating in Africa due to rights abuses, including the right to timely, credible and free information.

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