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Media stakeholders highlight the need for press freedom and linguistic inclusivity

The meeting discussed the importance of press freedom and linguistic inclusivity in the South African media landscape.

The Boksburg Advertiser participated in the online webinar that the University of Western Cape (UWC), in collaboration with the South African National Editors’ Forum, the Press Council, and the Indigenous Languages Forum (ILF), hosted on May 3, World Press Freedom Day.

The day honours the value of journalism and freedom of expression in the context of the contemporary global environment.

The UWC’s Dr Sisanda Nkoala, an award-winning researcher and former award-winning journalist who works as an associate professor at the University of the Western Cape, chaired the meeting.

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The meeting discussed the importance of press freedom and linguistic inclusivity in the South African media landscape.

The Association of Independent Publishers chairperson, Mbali Dhlomo, said it is vital to keep speaking a language to preserve it.

She raised concerns about media consumers who tend to skip the community media for the “big gun” publications because they do not realise the crucial role of local media.

Siki Alaf of the ILF stated that she was aware of the obstacles it would pose, such as resource restrictions and the time commitment required to translate a large amount of media content into all official languages but urged that there must be collaborative ways to intervene and achieve inclusivity.

“We cannot call ourselves fully democratic until we achieve that,” Alaf added.

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The 2023 AVBOB FCJ (Forum of Community Journalists) Excellence Awards will feature a new category, Vernacular Languages, which the FCJ plans to introduce to further its commitment to press freedom and diversity in SA’s media landscape.

Marietta Lombard, the deputy executive director of the FCJ, said, “The FCJ believes linguistic diversity is not only a reflection of our nation’s rich tapestry but also a cornerstone of press freedom.”

Furthermore, Lombard added that by honouring excellence in vernacular language journalism, they intend to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities and empower journalists to tell stories that truly resonate with their audiences.

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According to her, including the Vernacular Language category further underscores the FCJ’s commitment to promoting excellence and diversity in the media landscape.

“The news consumer deserves to receive information relevant to their daily lives in their mother tongues.

“By advocating for greater use of vernacular languages in media reportage, we strengthen our stance as a free press and add greater value to our role in society,” said Lombard.

“Through initiatives like the Vernacular Language category, FCJ continues championing press freedom and inclusivity in SA’s media landscape,” said Lombard.

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