“Safeguarding Press Freedom”

Chirwa outlines challenges and Progress on the media landscape

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 (3-05-2024) – In their pursuit of truth within a transparent society, journalists encounter numerous challenges. These hurdles include physical threats, intimidation, legal constraints, cybersecurity risks, psychological strain, and limited access to information.

At the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) event, Jane Chirwa, Programs Manager at the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia, shed light on the manifold obstacles journalists face globally.

Chirwa emphasized that journalists brave obstacles such as violence, censorship, and legal constraints like defamation laws and detentions.

“These challenges not only compromise the fundamental right to freedom of expression but also endanger democratic values,” stated Chirwa.

She stressed the critical importance of protecting press freedom, noting that attacks on journalists erode democracy and endanger lives.

However, Chirwa highlighted signs of progress in Zambia, where collaborative efforts among media organizations, civil society, and international bodies are making strides.

“Through unified action, stakeholders can press governments to honor their commitments to press freedom and promote transparency,” she asserted.

Chirwa emphasized that a robust and unrestrained press is essential for holding power accountable and empowering citizens.

To ensure journalists remain relevant in modern society, Chirwa mentioned ongoing nationwide initiatives and regional engagements, such as workshops on climate change.

She expressed gratitude to various entities and individuals for their support of press freedom and called for the review and repeal of restrictive laws.

Press freedom faces global threats from violence, intimidation, restrictive laws, and digital challenges.

Solutions encompass security measures, advocacy, and support networks, crucial for democracy as they foster transparency, accountability, and citizen empowerment.

Despite progress, Zambia grapples with high poverty rates and unmet health and education goals, exacerbated by COVID-19.

To address this, it prioritizes agriculture, renewable energy, and partnerships. Advocates urge governments to repeal restrictive laws curbing press freedom.

Organizations like CPJ, IMS, Article 19, and Reporters Without Borders play a pivotal role in safeguarding journalists’ rights and ensuring the free flow of information.

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