The Right2Know Campaign and other advocacy groups have expressed deep concern about the lack of access to information and lambasted the mainstream media for not reporting on real issues affecting impoverished communities.
This emerged when they held their annual provincial summit on Saturday February 4, at Isivivana hall, in Khayelitsha, which focused on finding better ways of ensuring that people who live in the township were able to access accurate information easily.
The heated debated was centred on issues of freedom of expression; the right to protest; access to information; and media transformation.
Right2Know argued that the mainstream media has failed dismally to highlight real issues facing people who live in disadvantaged communities, but they were too quick to write about them when they protest voicing their dissatisfaction.
They also accused media owners of interfering with editorial independence and lambasted community radio stations and national radio stations for failing to include labour issues on their radio programmes.
The organisation grabbed the opportunity to express its dismay about the prevalence of fake news websites and said there should be strict measures put in place to prevent these from popping up.
Right2Know spokesperson, Murray Hunter, said they were calling for the mainstream media to highlight community issues on a national level. He adds that they have also discovered that there is still a lot that needs to be done to educate ordinary people about their rights. He said people are still victimised at their work places and work under extremely poor conditions.
He went on to say that journalists should be given the freedom to perform their job without being intimidated and should be protected.
Mr Hunter said media organisations across the world are facing tough times. As a result, he said, seasoned and senior journalists are leaving the industry and that has a negative impact on the quality of reporting.
He called on business people to support alternative media platforms, particularly community based media organisations.
He said the summit played a pivotal role in providing a platform for residents and community stakeholders to reflect on the role played by the media and also voice their concerns and suggestions about the current state of it.
He believes platforms like these also provide media organisations with an opportunity to improve their coverage of news.
Furthermore, he said, the platform also gives them the opportunity as an organisation to be held accountable by the residents.
“The summit helps us to shape the priorities for the year and provides an action plan for the province.
“It also gives us the time to assess our role. We believe that there is a need for more such dialogue hence every now and then we host these because we are of the belief that many township residents are not given appropriate platforms to raise their voices,” he said.
Workers World Media representative, Lunga Guza, said he was worried that mainstream media and even community based media organisations were turning a blind eye to issues facing workers.
He said labour issues have been ignored and media organisations only report about them when workers go on strike. He said many workers were still exploited and their rights have been constantly violated.
He said currently community radio stations across the country are battling to generate revenue to keep their doors open and government has indicated that they intend to buy them and change them into municipal radio stations. He believes that the move could jeopardise their independence as instead they could become the mouth piece of the state.
Member of #Feesmustfall and a student at the University of Western Cape (UWC), Nangamso Bomvana, said their role as the movement was not only to highlight the issues of high fees but their aim was also to decolonise the current education system.
However, she lambasted the media for not reporting on all the issues they were raising as students. She stressed that they wanted to abolish the current education system because it is not making the country better and instead it taught them to be job-seekers instead of job creators.