Friday, 30 November 2007

South African Media: There goes our “freedom” of expression

If you thought abuse of “freedom” of media, press and expression is only happening in other African countries – think again!

I thought this was a joke but now it’s become a history of some sort in the South African history, especially in the media industry.

South African media or it’s journalists and writer have been are still are “under threat.”

During November along two journalists were first. First, The Rapport journalist Deon Maas. This was after The Rapport published an article on Satanism. According to many media commentators and analysts – Maas was just practicing his “right” to “freedom” of expression, religion, etc.

According to Maas’s article – many commentators say the article was just indicating that if Satanism is some sort of religion – then everyone who wants to practice such religion should be allowed to do so and be given the opportunity.

This in the end resulted in Maas just for his freedom of religion and expression being fired by the paper’s editor, Tim du Plessis. It’s said that many subscribers formed a campaign, which resulted in the editor’s decision to fire Maas.

Many in the media industry, Freedom of Expression Institute and The Press Council of South Africa are among those that expressed concerned of du Plessis’s decision according to Cape Argus and Independent Online Outrage at journalist's axing.

Sowetan management also fired Llewellyn Kriel yesterday after she wrote a controvetial article about the Sowetan. In her blog On making history or making a difference, Llewellyn Kriel now a former Sowetan journalist has been fired. This is after a controvetial article she wrote on her blog at The Thought Leader. According to Kriel “I was found guilty of gross misconduct for bringing the Sowetan’s name into disrepute by criticising it in a blog and for making public confidential company information.”

Kriel says, “despite my sacking for speaking out about the needless and exploitative frustrations of fewer and fewer people having to make silk purses out of more and more sows’ ears, the Sowetan will get the style guide I promised.”

Although this is not clear at this moment nor has it come to the fore, David Bullard of Sunday Times, one of South Africa’s investigative and influential Sunday newspaper is likely to be next on the list. Bullard is among those who have been very critical of government and its “rulers” and has even gone to the extent of challenging Essop Pahad, a Minister in the Presidency Come on Mr. Pahad.

Is he next on the lists of columnists of journalists to be fired?

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