‘An independent media is vital’: Right2Know on Black Wednesday

The Right2Know Campaign says  Black Wednesday is a reminder that a critical and independent media is vital to challenging authoritarianism and speaking truth to power. 

This as 19 October 2022 marks 45 years since the apartheid banned certain publications in the country and also tried to ban Black Consciousness Movements and arrested their leaders.  


According to South African History, on October 19, 1977, The World and Weekend World were banned. The editor of The World, Percy Qoboza, who later became the editor of City Press in 1984, was taken into detention and held for five months. 

Further, the apartheid regime declared illegal 19 Black Consciousness organisations and detained scores of activists. That day is now commemorated in South Africa as Black Wednesday and is also marked as National Press Freedom Day.

The Right2Know Campaign said while freedom of expression and media freedom are enshrined in the Constitution, history might repeat itself as there is a raft of laws that are laying the basis of the right to communicate. 

“These include the Hate Speech Bill, Film & Publications Board Amendment Act, Cybercrimes Bill as well as the Secrecy Bill,” the organisation said. 

The organisation also raised its concerns with the fact that the media in the country is dominated by a handful of corporations saying the resulting widespread commercialisation and editorial cost cutting drives down the quality of journalism and ensures that the media prioritise the needs of more wealthy urban audiences. 

Weighing in on the Black Wednesday, in his weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the ill-treatment of journalists that is happening in many parts of the world is something that should not be allowed to happen in South Africa. 

“The media plays an unparalleled role in ensuring there is accountability in our democratic order, so we must all stand firm against any attempts to intimidate or silence journalists,” he said. 

Ramaphosa also called on government and the private sector to play their part in supporting the free press by ensuring its sustainability through advertising, content partnerships and other models. 

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