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Press Freedom in Africa: There is Work to be Done
beninmw | May 12, 2008 at 08:15 pmby
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Akinki Janet writes a compelling piece for the African Executive essentially saying that Africa still lags behind in press freedom. She aptly points out the direct correlation between democracy and the press and describes the press as a watchdog for the people. She said that there are two forces in Africa that threaten press freedom. The first one was almost a given-Africa's governments. But the second one that she mentioned, private advertisers is one that may not be so apparent.
Here's Akinki's explanation:
"African media’s growing reliance on private advertising and the state is another factor threatening press freedom. The environment of free competition, better content and the chance to contribute to greater democracy is non-existent. Most advertising firms don't post adverts in media outlets they perceive do not hold their social, political and economic agenda. This has forced media houses to throw ethics out of the window in a bid to tap money. News content is increasingly being shaped by advertisers and panelists and this poses as a major threat for press freedom.
Why are most African leaders insulating themselves from public scrutiny? The media is the people’s watchdog.Africa will not indeed experience democracy if the Press is not allowed to do its role of making us hold the government accountable and keeping us informed. The barbaric practice of gagging the press should end once and for all."