Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo says the role of media is to ensure access to information which is essential to the health of South Africa’s democracy and its development.
“We need a media that joins us in building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society – a South Africa that is proud of its achievements and a country united in its diversity,” Minister Dlodlo said.
On Friday, the Minister delivered a keynote address at the UNISA Annual Media Conference, which took place under the theme: “The role of the media in conflict escalation”.
“It must ensure that citizens make responsible and informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Media stories must contribute to our development by allowing South Africans to make better decisions or take advantage of opportunities,” Minister Dlodlo said.
She said the role of the media should also be to drive a discourse that benefits communities and changes lives of ordinary people.
“The media must do their best to provide independent and trustworthy information to the people. In times of uncertainty people need reliable information so they can know what is really happening around them because their survival may depend on it,” Minister Dlodlo said.
The Minister said the provision of reliable information can go a long way towards helping in managing conflict and promoting democratic principles.
According to Minister Dlodlo, independent and pluralistic media matter because they contribute to a well-functioning democratic society that is characterised by informed citizens.
“It prevents any one media owner or owners having too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda. Most importantly it ensures that there is a diversity of viewpoints including those that are unpopular.
“This is the most basic rule of freedom of expression which all of us fought for and it would be unjust not to allow those we do not agree with to be heard,” she said.
She called on society to allow journalists to do their job.
“We must therefore do more to inculcate a culture of respect for the right of journalists to work freely and in conditions of safety,” Minister Dlodlo said.
Since the dawn of democracy, media have been free to report without fear or favour, and have exposed wrongs and shone a light on issues that are vital to the public and to the country’s democracy.
Minister Dlodlo said free and independent media are vital partners in strengthening any democracy.
“In South Africa we seek reporting that is credible, honest and informative. We seek comment and analysis that challenges us and provides fresh insight into our world and the challenges we face,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za