The freedom of information is under attack in many parts of the world.
By Vonani Ngomana
“There is really no story worth dying for.” These were the words of publisher and journalist of the Nepali Times, Kunda Dixit. Dixit sat on the panel discussion titled Journalists Under Fire: Strategies and Resources. The talk kickstarted the third day of the Tenth Global Investigative Journalism Conference held at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Dixit explained that journalists reluctantly also became activists because the core values of democracy, press freedom, transparency and the rule of law were under threat. “We really have to become activists, largely because it’s not our freedom we’re protecting, it’s the public’s right to know that it’s [their freedom being] threatened,” Dixit said.
International support and spotlight is a vital part of the protection needed by journalists because of the constant danger they face.
Christophe Deloire, secretary general at Reporters Without Borders, an NGO that specialises in defending media freedom said that there were not many governments that were ready to advocate for journalists.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with many cases against press freedom unresolved.
According to Marcela Turanti, journalist and co-founder of Quito Elemento Lab in Mexico, the reality of journalists in relation to their daily lived experiences were very different. “We have a really good legislation in Mexico and we have a special office for prosecution of crimes against journalists, but all these things never work, there is no political will to protect journalists.”
An audience member critiqued the lack of inclusion of journalists from the Middle East on the panel. He stated that the region is also very dangerous for working journalists and many have been imprisoned. This puts journalism in regions like this in a very precarious position.
Laurent Richard, journalist and film maker from Freedom Voices Network agreed with the audience member, saying that some of the correspondents from his organisation have been detained in places such as Turkey.
PHOTO: Kunda Dixit (far left), Marcela Turati (left )Sheila Coronel (right) and Christophe Deloire speak on strategies to protect journalists. Photo: Lauren Mitchell