It was revealed recently that, for the third year in a row, over 250 journalists were jailed around the world.
This, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), suggests that the authoritarian approach to critical news coverage is more than a temporary spike that is generally intended to suppress or completely block critical news reporting.
This is most unfortunate – especially taking into consideration the fact that the Press and the profession of journalism as a whole is widely acknowledged as the Fourth Estate of the Realm, so to speak.
Indeed, the term ‘Fourth Estate’ – or ‘Fourth Power’ – refers to the Press or news media both in their explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame and advocate socio-econo-political issues.
Although it is not formally recognised as part and parcel of the governing system of a given nation-state, the Press nonetheless wields significant social, cultural, economic and political influence – albeit more often than not doing so indirectly.
Most unfortunately, however, those in power – including especially the traditional branches of government, namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary – never fail to find a bone of contention with the Press every so often, either as individual entities or together as the government of the day.
Hence seemingly endless disputes, some of which end in Journalists being jailed and/or otherwise punished – including mysterious disappearance or the ultimate penalty of death, judicial and otherwise.
It is, therefore, no wonder that about 70 per cent of imprisoned journalists are convicted on anti-state charges
This should not continue, and those in authority must learn to live in harmony with the media fraternity as partners-in-good governance, not as institutional enemies.