Media and The Role in Promoting Access to Information
In democratic countries, the media plays a special role in promoting the dissemination and access to information. The enshrinement of the freedom of speech & expression. The freedom of information has enabled media to be at a position to reach to the masses. They equip the citizens with pertinent information about democracy. As well as their rights in the society pertains to the directives of the government. Or perhaps, its various institutions.
For the success in dissemination and expression of such vital information; it is important that the independence of the media is not tampered with. There is also the need of the media to act appropriately. Without any bias in making this information available. The media should not allow itself to be compromised. Or intimidated in any way. It should always stand for the citizens. One way this can be achieved is by giving much focus to local content as opposed to international content. This way, the media will be at a position to address the various issues; which affect the community. Along with the citizens from various parts of the country.
The Need to Equip the Media with Powerful Resources
I’m an investigative journalist. I’m aware that I’m tasked in uncovering the evils; which happens in the society. However, I must admit that the media policy in my country is weak; at its best. Most of this stems from the recent development in new technologies; used to collect, package and disseminate information. Emerging technologies mean that the media has been much empowered; to reach the vast majority of citizens. However, I must admit that weak policies; and lack of resources have made the situation more complex. Rather than simplifying it.
Some years back, in the company of my team; we went undercover to collect some information about a major graft cover. That had and was still taking place in one of the government ministries. Of course we did our part; each of us. We ensured that we collected the most vital information. It then took us several weeks as a team to edit. As well as regroup all the vital information.
Therefore, it was then time to disseminate it to the masses. However, the news received a warm reception across all divides. It was an eye-opener of the evils; which were going on in the government. The news implicated several senior government officials. Along with public officials as well.
Weak Media Policies can put the Media at Crossroads in Distributing Information
Of course, the purpose of making such a revelation to the public; was to make the public aware of how government operatives were mismanaging public funds. There was need for the public to be aware about the misappropriation of monies collected as taxes. Which were supposed to be used to empower the citizens through developments other important infrastructural sectors of the economy. Instead, the theft for the public coffers depicted a different scenario from that; which was expected.
Notwithstanding, it was for the public divide to make the best decision about the kind of leaders who were governing us. It was also for the judiciary. As well as other mandated authorities to take action against such evils. Along with bringing the culprits to book. What else would be the need for us to go undercover to collect such information and make it public?
Yet, that was never the case two days later; when I was bumped on my way to work and bundled in a police car. Then I was thrown into a police cell; where I met my fellow journalist who we had together gone to cover the news. Three day later we were charged of disseminating seditious information to the public. After all, I was like; what seditious information was being talked about?
The Media Should Neither be Biased nor Intimidated
What we had done was the right thing. As a matter of fact; it was the police. Other bodies tasked with investigating on the cases that were sleeping on their job. Nevertheless, We had nothing to do with the graft. We were just innocent citizens; who had done the right thing. With that said, we were heroes; who cared and loved their country.
But here we were. We were being treated like traitors. The ordinary citizens also took ethnic sides by defending their leaders in social media. They kind of saw nothing wrong with the grafts. They didn’t care about the abuse of office. Perhaps the mismanagement of public finds.
The worse bit is that we were supposed to retract the information. And making apologies; even before the court was through with determining our cases. I could not be part of that I refused to get intimidated. Nonetheless, our bosses were. They made it clear when they sacked us. We were left to fight our battle; which we won. Not much was focused about the graft. Even though I was sure it took place. We had to pack our bags and go home. It was so shameful.
It is time that government endorses strong media policies; in order to equip media house in delivering information. Social injustices must be fought and the media plays an important role in this. It must be equipped and let free to disseminate such information. The public should also be insightful and help the media in exposing such injustices. Also in ensuring that justice is mete for those found guilty without any bias.