Born free

Nust’s media and communication society hosted a panel discussion about the media’s role in elections and democracy.

30 April 2019 | Education

Michelle Mushonga



In celebration of the upcoming World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), Nust’s media and communication society hosted a panel discussion on 16 April. The panel discussed this year’s theme: Media for democracy: Journalism and elections in times of disinformation. The panel consisted of Natasja Beyleveld, the managing director of Namedia, a business that specialises in media content analysis, Job Amupanda, a lecturer in the department of economic and management science, Shoki Kandji, executive member of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (Prisa), communications manager of Nust FM and Nanso vice-chairperson for the Khomas Region. The forum was organised to promote youth involvement and representation in the media. Accordingly, all Nust, Unam and NIT students as well as members of the public were encouraged to attend and ask questions.

World Press Freedom Day is celebrated worldwide under the auspices of Unesco on 3 May, which also marks the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration. The declaration was compiled by journalists, publishers and other members of the media during a meeting in 1991 as an oath to uphold freedom of the press. Later in 1991, it was adopted by the Unesco general council as well as the UN general assembly in 1993.

Mathias Haufiku, a local journalist, commented on the importance of WPFD. “I think World Press Freedom Day gives everyone who operates in the press sector an arena and a chance to retrospect, introspect and to see how far we’ve come. Furthermore, despite the self-regulatory policies that we have in place, there are still loopholes that we need to look at. Things such as ethics because journalists are under pressure to provide credible news, especially in an era of fake news.”

It is unfortunate that in some countries, media is censored and journalists are attacked, harassed and even murdered. According to article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. Conversely, rights come with responsibilities and in this case, it is the media’s responsibility to report on accurate, fair and unbiased information.

While answering an audience member’s question, Job Amupanda mentioned that reporting objectively is easier said than done. “Journalists are also human beings. They are your brothers, your sisters, your uncles or even your girlfriends. They are not people who come from elsewhere. The element of subjectivity of a communicator or journalist is one aspect that you need to be able to look at because human beings naturally have agency and subjectivity.”

The society plans to host more insightful talks such as this one while encouraging youth involvement in the media.

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