This brings me to the incidents and crucial issues that need to be addressed because they echo a larger, national, and even international misunderstanding about what the media can and cannot do.

In order to have stories, we need to attend events and happenings. The media cannot attend private events. For instance, we cannot cover every SRC meeting because we’re simply not invited. The media can attend a private event if they have been invited. For example, serrie finals this Friday is not a free, open event but we will cover it because Stuku has invited us and it is relevant to our readership. The media can attend any event that is open to the public, especially if it has been advertised as such. Events open to the public are vital to cover, especially if they deal with current topics of discussion as they impact and encourage participation from a wider range of people. This makes an event that is open to the public not just Perdeby’s right to cover, but also our responsibility.

If you are hosting an open event and a journalist is in attendance, you cannot kick them out (yes, this is addressed to you Anti-Racism Forum) because we have every right to be there, personal invitation or not. You definitely can’t take a vote as to whether we’re allowed to publish a story on the event or not because the answer is, and will always be, that we most certainly are allowed to and most certainly will. Journalists are quite dutiful people, you see. And while we’re on the topic, Anti-Racism Forum, you criticise us for not engaging in the debate on racism and transformation, which is okay because now we’re making an even more conscious effort, but when we do attempt to cover it (the article would have explained what was expressed at your political school and what you stand for so everyone could hear your message), you instead decide that we aren’t invited and that we can’t write about it but that you’ll write us a letter instead. That’s not how media works. Please, choose your stance.

Journalists also have the right to access to information, specifically that which is in the public domain. This includes any footage from an event that is open to the public. No one has the right to make a journalist delete footage of a public event (And yes, EFF Tuks, this is for you). You certainly can’t harass and intimidate them either, because that’s actually illegal. As far as I’m concerned, the launch of a new branch is something you should actually want us to cover. This is basically free publicity for you, but you’d rather ensure that the article never sees the light of day by assaulting the journalist assigned to the story. I honestly don’t think you even need a stance, just some common sense.

There are deeper questions in all of this that apply to everyone we write about: if you don’t want us to cover something, why? Are you trying to hide something? Are you scared that an objective take on an event may risk making the holes in your beliefs apparent?

Journalists aren’t vindictive and we’re certainly not out to get you. We just want to provide a reflection of all the sides of a story so that the reader can choose their stance.

A world without media freedom is one where the public can’t see the whole picture. It allows those in power to do whatever they want without being questioned. Media in society is vital. If you’re playing your part correctly, you need not fear us. If you aren’t, we have the tools to unravel you. In a supposedly free society, our role becomes more important by the day. Media doesn’t just help win freedom, it plays a part in ensuring that you get to keep it too.

Michal

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