The media is actually the canary in the coal mine of modern life.
Often, when journalists write about World Press Freedom Day – marked yesterday – people tend to roll their eyes, questioning why we, in the media, are so “self-absorbed”.
And, the media (that great amorphous mass which is, nevertheless, capable of coordinated conspiracy) is frequently blamed when things go wrong, or when what it reports goes against the world view of its critics.
Ironically, those casting the stones often get their information from the media…
The media – at least the formal, hopefully, professional and hopefully ethical part of it, that is – is actually the canary in the coal mine of modern life.
Like the canaries of old which warned miners of toxic gases underground, so the media warns society at large of looming toxic threats.
In the Covid-19 pandemic, governments all over the world are introducing restrictions which remove chunks of people’s rights.
So, we must be thankful that the ANC has declared journalists to be essential workers – so they can get the message out … good or bad.
It is also encouraging that, so far at least, the authorities have not tried to silence or restrict the media in its coverage.
That freedom is vital for all of us.
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