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Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenya’s media: a bitter-sweet affair that didn’t end happily

Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenya’s media: a bitter-sweet affair that didn’t end happily

PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime came into power in 2013. It was the first to implement most of the provisions of Kenya’s 2010 constitution. The media were eager to see how the government, led by Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, would adhere to article 34 of the constitution, which deals with the freedom of the press. The two politicians had promised to expand media freedoms once in power. The relationship between the media and Kenyatta’s regime went through six stages that defined the president’s nine years in office between 2013 and 2022. It shifted from “karibuni chai” (welcome to tea)…
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World Press Freedom faces a perfect storm

World Press Freedom faces a perfect storm

FARHANA HAQUE RAHMAN THE UN will be commemorating World Press Freedom Day on May 3. The following article is part of a series of IPS features and opinion pieces focused on media freedom globally. Farhana Haque Rahman Empowered by a global pandemic and the drumbeats of war, the strongest despots are growing more despotic, and criminal cartels even more brazen in their violence. Extremists of various hues are also stepping out of the shadows. Just when the world most needs press freedom to thrive, the liberties that societies only really treasure when they are emasculated are coming under more pressure…
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Misogynistic online abuse poses major threat to women journalists

Misogynistic online abuse poses major threat to women journalists

TARA CAREY THE writer is Head of Media at the international women’s rights organisation Equality Now The UN will be commemorating World Press Freedom Day on May 3. The following article is part of a series of IPS features and opinion pieces focused on media freedom globally. Women journalists around the world are experiencing an exponential increase in misogynistic online abuse, which poses a grave risk to women’s media participation in the digital age. This is a grievous form of censorship that seeks to silence women, stifle free expression, and close down critical journalism by undermining their ability to engage freely…
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New threats to media freedom come from unexpected directions

New threats to media freedom come from unexpected directions

FRANZ KRÜGER, Adjunct Professor of Journalism and Director of the Wits Radio Academy, University of the Witwatersrand MEDIA Freedom Day in South Africa marks the anniversary of a brutal crackdown by the apartheid state on the media and the Black Consciousness Movement. The 1977 killing of Black Consciousness icon Steve Biko in police custody drew widespread rage and the state responded by closing newspapers, banning organisations and detaining journalists and activists. That was on October 19 of that year, which became known as Black Wednesday. Since then, South African journalists have used Black Wednesday to draw attention to the importance…
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‘Free People, Free Media’: Poles protest against media law

‘Free People, Free Media’: Poles protest against media law

PROTESTERS who gathered in several cities on Sunday urged Poland's president to veto a media law they and other critics say aims to limit media freedoms in the European Union's largest eastern member. Unexpectedly rushed through parliament on Friday, the legislation would tighten rules around foreign ownership of media, specifically affecting the ability of news channel TVN24, owned by U.S. media company Discovery Inc, to operate. The bill, which has yet to be signed into law by President Andrzej Duda, has soured relations between NATO-member state Poland and the United States. It has also fuelled wider fears about attacks on…
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Restricting digital media is a gamble for African leaders

Restricting digital media is a gamble for African leaders

MANY leaders seem threatened by the way digital media make it possible to share information and organise. Research shows that 2020 saw 156 full or partial shutdowns of the internet or social media like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. South Asia accounts for almost three-quarters of these shutdowns, with India leading the way. JEFFREY CONROY-KRUTZ, Associate Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University Africa was the next most affected region, with 20 shutdowns affecting 12 countries. Disruptions lasted from as short as a day or less, in Burundi, Egypt, and Togo, to nearly 90 days in parts of Ethiopia’s Oromia Region.…
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Nobel Peace Prize for journalists serves as reminder that freedom of the press is under threat from strongmen and social media

Nobel Peace Prize for journalists serves as reminder that freedom of the press is under threat from strongmen and social media

THIRTY-TWO years ago next month, I was in Germany reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event then heralded as a triumph of Western democratic liberalism and even “the end of history.” KATHY KIELY, Professor and Lee Hills Chair of Free Press Studies, University of Missouri-Columbia But democracy isn’t doing so well across the globe now. Nothing underscores how far we have come from that moment of irrational exuberance than the powerful warning the Nobel Prize Committee felt compelled to issue on October 8, 2021 in awarding its coveted Peace Prize to two reporters. “They are representative for…
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Tanzania suspends second newspaper in less than a month

Tanzania suspends second newspaper in less than a month

TANZANIA has suspended another newspaper accused of false stories even though President Samia Suluhu Hassan had pledged to uphold media freedoms quashed by her predecessor. Raia Mwema, a leading Swahili-language weekly, was suspended for 30 days from Monday, for "repeatedly publishing false information and deliberate incitement," Gerson Msigwa, the government's chief spokesperson, said in a statement. Msigwa cited three recent stories, including one about a gunman who killed four people in a rampage through a diplomatic quarter of Tanzania's main city Dar es Salaam. The article linked the gunman to ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the statement read, adding…
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Public trust in the media is at a new low: a radical rethink of journalism is needed

Public trust in the media is at a new low: a radical rethink of journalism is needed

A recent report by an independent panel on the ethics and credibility of South Africa’s news media makes for worrying reading. The panel, headed by retired judge Kathy Satchwell, was commissioned by the South African National Editors’ Forum following a series of ethical lapses by the Sunday Times. The paper dominated the country’s media landscape for over 100 years. As the largest by circulation, it was also considered the most powerful newspaper. HERMAN WASSERMAN, Professor of Media Studies in the Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town The lapses included factual inaccuracies in reports on allegations of…
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Protect Journalists, Protect the Truth

Protect Journalists, Protect the Truth

In the past fourteen years (2006-2019), close to 1,200 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public. In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished. Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems.  These figures do not include the many more journalists, who on a daily basis suffer from non-fatal attacks, including torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, intimidation and harassment in both conflict and non-conflict situations. Furthermore, there are specific risks faced by women journalists, including sexual attacks. Worryingly, only one in…
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