Last Monday the Press Freedom Commission's public-hearings roadshow moved to Durban, where it listened to the IFP's proposal that the Press Council be transformed into a “super body”. Such an institution would receive input from, among others, the government, and be a form of co-regulation, rather than the self-regulation that is the status quo. By MARICLAIR SMIT.
This Friday's Mail & Guardian features a greatly redacted version of its lead story about a Scorpions' investigation of Mac Maharaj, after his lawyers alerted the paper to the fact that publication would contravene the NPA Act. The M&G is now seeking the director of public prosecution's permission to publish the story. If (or, more realistically when) that is denied, the newspaper will challenge the law on constitutional grounds. It hasn't escaped anyone's notice that what amounts to censorship of the media will become increasingly common should the Protection of State Information Bill be voted into law next week. By THERESA MALLINSON.
South Sudan's journalists may be living in a newly independent country, but it seems independence of the press is not greatly prized by the new administration. Two journalists have been arrested this month – and detained without charge – for writing and publishing a controversial opinion piece. It doesn't augur well for media freedom in the world's newest country. By THERESA MALLINSON.
The Australian government launched an independent inquiry into the media on Wednesday amid growing criticism of the Murdoch press after the phone-hacking scandal in Britain. By GREG NICOLSON.
The Metro's recycling of Guardian journalist David Leigh's 2006 admission that he listened in on an arms company's executive’s cellphone message has provoked cries of “Hypocrisy!” on the interwebs. But the Metro article failed to mention Leigh's public-interest defence. It's a good time to reflect on when the end justifies the means. By THERESA MALLINSON.
South Africa’s young democracy may have been a shining example to the rest of the world for a while, but dreams of real freedom of expression and of the media seem to be nearing the end of their usefulness to SA's ruling party. By MANDY DE WAAL.
Nearly three months after he was shot by Libyan government troops near Brega, a ceremony in Johannesburg remembered photographer Anton Hammerl and reflected on his life and work – and his quest to tell the truth about conflict, despite the dangers. By PHILLIP DE WET.
On Thursday night South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl's wife, Penny Sukhraj, received the phone call she'd been dreading. Her husband had been shot dead by Gaddafi loyalists on 5 April. The South African government – which had assured all and sundry that Hammerl was alive – now say they were consistently lied to by the Libyan government "from the highest levels". What action can it take to express outrage about those lies? Not a great deal, it seems. By THERESA MALLINSON and PHILLIP DE WET.
On Tuesday evening it was announced that four journalists held in Libya – Manu Brabo, Jim Foley, Clare Gillis, and an unnamed fourth – would be released, possibly as early as Wednesday. We don't know if the fourth journalist is Anton Hammerl, but it seems unlikely. And in South Africa, the lack of information and action is still difficult to believe. Either the SA government doesn't know or doesn't really care. Or both. By THERESA MALLINSON.
It's now been 16 days since South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl was captured in Libya, along with fellow foreign journalists Jim Foley, Clare Gillis and Manu Brabo – and still there is no definitive information regarding their whereabouts. But while they wait for news, family, friends, and supporters of the captured journalists are doing their best to keep the story alive. By THERESA MALLINSON.
South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl has been detained in Libya for 10 days – and counting. SA's diplomats say it is a “delicate situation”, and can’t give details of negotiations for his release. Yet four New York Times journalists captured in Libya in March were released after only six days, while, in another great example of great skill and dedication of our government, the South African consulate in Tripoli has yet to locate Hammerl. And it took them eight days to just to contact his family. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Swaziland has turned into a mini-war-zone as police armed to the teeth parade the streets in a public display of military might. Soldiers have been occupying strategic areas, while roadblocks have been mounted across the country in preparation for the planned uprising on Tuesday. Several activists have been arrested, and the Swazi Labour Federation headquarters has been surrounded by police. By MANQOBA NXUMALO.
If we ever needed proof Laurent Gbagbo has completely lost control of his army, it’s the latest developments in Abidjan. Armed fighters reportedly broke into the Novotel Hotel late on Monday, seizing five hostages and making off with them before the French army could get there. Surely Gbagbo wouldn’t be that stupid? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Capitau and RMB Ventures put their cards on the table, and said the Avusa takeover bid is all about expansion, retaining staff, supporting management and enabling Mvelaphanda to reinvest in the media company. Equity research house Avior warns Avusa won’t come without challenge because most of its brands sit in legacy business sectors. By MANDY DE WAAL.
Not satisfied with just owning this country’s biggest broadcaster, the state is set to launch what will be South Africa’s biggest circulation newspaper at a print price tag of well above R1 million an issue. Critics warn of printing for pulp, of a government that has not done its homework, but also of a state that’s knee-jerking politically and seriously damaging media diversity in the process. By MANDY DE WAAL.
Back in 2003 Robert Mugabe's regime closed down The Daily News. But last year the newspaper was granted a licence by the Zimbabwean Media Commission, and now it's returned with a vengeance. The newspaper boasts the tag line “telling it like it is” and its writers haven't been shy to speak the truth to power, with both Mugabe and Zanu-PF's prodigal son, Jonathan Moyo, already coming in for some stinging criticism. By VLADIMIR MZACA.
A conference at Wits on media rights and regulations in Africa was a place of passionate debate that recognised depth of the problems we're facing. There was also a clear understanding that the fight for truth, and freedom of expressing it, will be fought across the continent for many years to come. Report by THERESA MALLINSON.
Freedom of expression is protected under Malawi's 1995 constitution. However, since 2009 the media has been under attack by the government, with President Bingu wa Mutharika stating last year that he would close down newspapers that tarnished his government's image. The banning of the Weekly Times showed he's serious. Now, with the amendment of Section 46 of the Penal Code, such actions have the power of law behind them. By GREGORY GONDWE.
Did you know they have “press rallies” in Malawi? That the media in Senegal is relatively free, but doesn't always report the news responsibly? That most of Kenya's media is owned by politicians? These are just a few of the many interesting – and chilling – facts and opinions that came to light at the panel discussion. But the overwhelming message is that African journalists have a lot to say – and are eager to explore ways that will allow them say it without fear of repercussions. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Whichever way you look at it, submissions made by the Volksblad at the Press Council public hearings in Bloemfontein on Monday were something of a milestone. This was one of the first times that actual journalists – as opposed to media academics or members of civil society – gave presentations. By CARMEL RICKARD.
During February’s polls in Uganda and the campaigns that preceded them, journalists had a tough time of it, being harassed and intimidated by both ruling and opposition parties. With Museveni still in power, it doesn't seem the situation will improve anytime soon. But at least journalists are out of immediate danger – for now. By TOM RHODES.
Ghana has a proud tradition of investigative reporting. Its latest practitioner is Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who specialises in going undercover. He's exposed corruption in cocoa smuggling, the running of mental homes and orphanages, and most recently at the country's main port. Seems apt that he works for a newspaper called The New Crusading Guide. By BAAFOO AHENKORA.
At Friday's Press Council public hearings press ombudsman Joe Thloloe stressed that the point of the exercise was not to engage in intense debate, but rather to enable the public and other interested parties to make submissions. The few in attendance raised some good points. Pity there wasn't a bigger audience to hear them. By ADRIAN BAILLIE-STEWART.
On Thursday afternoon, Nigeria's Freedom of Information (FoI) bill was passed by the house of representatives, without much opposition. However, it still needs to pass the senate and be signed by the president before it becomes law. And with certain areas like law enforcement, the economy, international affairs, and defence potentially exempt from the bill, not all information will be equally accessible. By REMMY NWEKE.
Gregory Stemn had some narrow escapes covering the civil war in Liberia. Even though he now lives in the US, he admits to still hearing bullets flying over his head. Stemn hopes that his recently published book, "Liberia: When Darkness Falls", will be widely distributed in his home country - so that people remember what they've lived through. By MICHAEL KEATING
We hope you're not getting bored with stories about the lack of public participation at Press Council hearings being held around the country. But we can't report on all the interesting points the public is making if they simply don't exist. At least in Cape Town on Thursday the Muslim Judicial Council aired its views – but that was about it. Again. By TO MOLEFE.
Against a backdrop of President Robert Mugabe’s government’s record of media oppression and using state-controlled media to promote the partisan politics of Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe’s government of national unity seemed to begin its rule in the perfect way by ending a bloody decade for the media. A pledge to reform media, the appointment of a new media commission to “liberalise” the airwaves and a promise to review the country’s tough media laws brought renewed hope. Pity these commitments have yet to materialise. By RAY NDLOVU.
In many countries where freedom of expression is a foreign concept, the biggest tool used to subdue the media is state repression. In Somalia, as in the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland, journalists have to contend with the various Islamist militia factions as well. Sometimes they are seemingly arbitrarily thrown in jail, before being released without explanation. Other times they are “officially” sentenced to stay there. By AY MOHAMED.
The Press Council public hearings resumed in Eastern Cape on Monday, where academics from Rhodes University made detailed submissions. Again ANC representatives failed to show face, despite being the loudest voices calling for press reforms. More worrying, however, was the failure of civil society members and the general public to attend hearings. By MICHELLE SOLOMON.
In Nigeria different organisations regulate computer hardware, the Internet and telecommunications companies. Given the role all these elements play in the online space – and by extension, online media in all its forms – it's about time the Nigerian government seriously looks at merging the regulatory organs. By REMMY NWEKE.
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