Media release

Government commemorates Media Freedom Day

19 October 2018

19 October 2018

Government today joins South Africa’s media in commemorating the anniversary of Media Freedom Day also known as Black Wednesday. On October 19, 1977, South Africa's apartheid government banned three publications and outlawed 17 anti-apartheid groups during the one-day crackdown, which came to be known as Black Wednesday.

Government would like to use this day to recognise the role the media plays towards strengthening our democracy. Media freedom is one of the cornerstones of democracy and this freedom, entrenched in the South African Constitution, should be guarded at all times.

The diverse South African media industry is known for its robustness and is critical in shaping public discourse; playing their part to ensure that we have an informed citizenry; and enabling participation in debates.

Acting GCIS Director-General Phumla Williams said: “In South Africa, the media enjoys editorial independence and our constitution is unambiguous about the protection of media freedom. The role that the media plays in our developmental agenda is very vital to growth. We see the media as partners in nation building, fostering of social cohesion as well encouraging public debate on a variety of issues that affect our nation and the rest of the world.”

However, the government believes that while the freedom of media should be protected, the media has a responsibility to report fairly, truthfully, avoid exaggeration and departure from the facts. Irresponsible reporting is detrimental to people’s careers and reputation in society.

The GCIS and government in general will always strive to deepen relations with the media to reflect a genuine South African story.

Phumla Williams
GCIS Acting Director-General
Cell: 083 501 0139

Issued by Government Communication and Information System

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