The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has pledged solidarity with the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA), applauding the association for its continued good work as it hosts a General Meeting and Strategy Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Conference, which EAJA is organising in cooperation with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) from 25-27 May 2013, is being held with the theme “Journalism as a Public Good: Press Freedom and Trade Union Rights in Eastern Africa.”
In a solidarity speech delivered at the Conference, MISA’s Regional Director, Zoe Titus, noted that the Conference’s theme was apt at a time when journalist continue to work in environments replete with oppression, corruption, violations of media freedom, exploitation, lack of respect and understanding, lack of freedom of expression, lack of job security, and an inability to engage in collective bargaining.
Ms. Titus said that when creating conditions to allow journalists to function effectively, it was important to recognise the journalists’ contribution to democracy and development, because without access to credible and ethical journalism, people are unable to make informed decisions, and corruption often remains in place.
“A vibrant democracy relies on the pluralist participation of all sectors of society, including journalists, and democracy flourishes best when journalists are able to provide civil society with the information they need to formulate informed positions on economic, social, and political matters,” She said.
She further stated that MISA was proud to have an association with EAJA and supported EAJA’s vision to recognise, expand and protect freedom of expression in Eastern African countries as a basic human right and vital ingredient of democracy, noting that this was the key to good governance, economic, social and political development.
Ms. Titus, who will also present the southern Africa prospective in the ‘Mainstreaming Gender: the Fight for Equality Continues’ session, encouraged the journalists in attendance to adhere to the codes of ethics and to maintain the high standards of reporting, stating that this was what the consumers of news products and services expect from each and every edition.
The two day Conference will also have sessions on Challenges Journalists Face In the Line of Duty: Report on Press Freedom in Eastern Africa; Inside Eastern Africa’s Newsroom: Working Conditions and Trade Unions in the Media Industry; Making Journalism Safe: Our Collective Challenge; and, Elections.
The Union of Central Africa Press Syndicates and the Human & Trade Union Rights, International Trade Union Confederation – Africa Regional Organisation, are also expected to deliver solidarity messages at the Conference.