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Why we need responsible freedom of expression

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Added 1st August 2016 07:06 PM

These fellows, who bring to us news of happenings are becoming as vulnerable as the situations that they are professionally endowed to provide. Have you ever hit a deliberate dead end while crafting out your passion?

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These fellows, who bring to us news of happenings are becoming as vulnerable as the situations that they are professionally endowed to provide. Have you ever hit a deliberate dead end while crafting out your passion?

By Simon Mone

Today, what we see happening around world is 95% of the time baffling. Of late, we are witnessing one of the biggest unfairness in news reporting. And everywhere around the world!

These fellows, who bring to us news of happenings are becoming as vulnerable as the situations that they are professionally endowed to provide.  Have you ever hit a deliberate dead end while crafting out your passion? If you know how it feels, then you might see why journalists throw tantrums. And hesitate to heed any orders from law enforcement officers. So they try to retaliate in anger. But who says it is an easy job to always act and behave professionally?

It is a difficult assignment. As a result, we see many news reporters getting on the short end of polices’ canes. Footages of cameramen being roughed up and bundled into police vehicles happen so often these days. But this only exposes the other side of law enforcement personnel.

On-goings at war grounds, at demonstration scenes, is evidence of why news reporters are now a vulnerable professionals. It seems to suggest that the future of news reporting will only get worse. Statistics remind us to look carefully at the number of news reporters that die while trying to fulfil their vocation.

Over 700 journalists are estimated to have been killed in the last 10 years. Does it worry you at all? I hope so. Governments ought to be seen to respect the work of news reporters, especially if published news bulletins are factual. All in all, there are better ways of dealing with ‘unacceptable news reports’. For instance, make a promise to refrain from whatever wrong that was reported. And start to do acceptable things. So that media people do not come up against all sorts of violence.

We detest killings of journalists in Syria. We hate imprisonment and confiscation of reporters’ cameras in South Sudan. Equally, disappearances, deportations and death threats that reporters face in Afghanistan are not injustices that we should pride in beholding.

The more reason we continue to advocate for safety and protection of journalists. We think that more can be done to end needless attacks on journalists. Media people are ethically expected to be neutral. So it should continue in that sense. We should only hold abusers of ethical code of conduct accountable for any misdemeanours. In that way, it determines how mature free expression in a country gets. Therefore, unlike passing controversial laws to curb press freedom, let us ensure that this liberty is enjoyed responsibly. So do not close radios.

Instead, encourage as many radios as possible. Just make sure that information being broadcast is acceptable. Let newspapers publish stories without fear. Do not abduct news editors and throw them in an African Guantanamo. Keep the dirt away from news in order that it is not reported. Importantly, start to think and do right. So that when our successes are published by the media, we celebrate together. Reporters are vital in developing our society.

They are a major stakeholder in our endeavours so allow them to be critical, independent and investigative as always. And according to Nelson Mandela (RIP), this is the lifeblood of societies. About one year ago, Syria was the world’s deadliest country for journalists to work in. Now, Pakistan is in the lead. Soon, South Sudan will be top of them all.

It is where there is a campaign to clamp down on news reporters. Some impunity-causing guys there are not too pleased by the media coverage of their sins. So news houses are threatened with closure. Reporters are being promised disappearance, and in some cases, with death.

Yet this is a time when South Sudan needs an independent voice; to facilitate discussions about how to end a big monster the political upheaval. A mature democracy requires freedom of expression. So let it happen.

The writer is a civil engineer

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