World Press Freedom Day: Are We Really Free?

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Every year World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on May 3 to commemorate journalists and highlight the difficulties they face while reporting truth.

As we celebrate this year’s World Press Freedom Day with the theme: “Information as a Public Good”, it is important to know that the media as the fourth estate of the realm is saddled with the responsibility of checkmating the excesses and abuses of government in a bid to keep them on track, among other watchdog roles and responsibilities to the society. But can we really boast of having a libertarian press in this clime where media practitioners seem to be gagged by the power that be and in turn, the society is held in ransom.

It makes no sense to celebrate a day that doesn’t exit in this part of the world. We need to be more pragmatic in our fight against excessive government control and regulations that constitute a major challenge in discharging top-notch media services to the members of the public at large. The essence of journalism is to provide information without fear or favour for the good of the public. Thus, the society suffers when information is thwarted as a result of the impediments posed by government interference and/or probe.

This is not the time to shout Uhuru or call for excessive celebration but a time for deep reflection on better ways to achieve a more profound journalism than what is obtainable in recent times. As watchdogs, we are obliged to be objective and unbiased in terms of discharging our duties to the people.

We should be solely responsible to the society and not the government as it has been the norm. The government on the other hand, should as a matter of urgency and necessity allow free press where truth and fairness prevail and not suppressing the facts as a result of its interest or political gain.

Together we can make World Press Freedom Day in Nigeria a reality but as it is now, happy SUPPressED Freedom Day.

– Arogbonlo Israel writes in from Lagos.

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