Saturday, October 25, 2003

Richard at Way South has a link to a report by Reporters without Borders on world press freedom. South Africa ranks 21st, ahead of France, the UK and the USA. I haven't delved into the methodology used but these rankings set my spidey sense tingling. Since I'm not actually in South Africa, it's hard to get a feeling for how free the press really is at the moment, but it bears pointing out that when I left SA (about 2 years ago) the press had just come through an official investigation into racism in the media which at times had seemed like a barely concealed effort to muzzle those voices that were critical of the govt. I should also add, and I think this is still very much the case, that the SABC more or less toes the party line in its news coverage, to the extent that it is sometimes little more than a propaganda tool for the state. This being the case, I can't help but wander about the motivations of Reporters without Borders. If the USA is in the same company as Benin, Albania and Nicaragua one can't help but conclude that there is some sort of political axe being ground here.

Having said all that, I suppose this is good news. There is little doubt that South Africa does enjoy relatively high levels of press freedom and if the international community recognises this, we should be pleased.

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