Media freedom vs media responsibility

There is a cliché saying that goes: “With great freedom comes great responsibility.”

And though it might seem like a lame afterthought or something a sensei might say when you ask him what the meaning of life is, this is actually a very important statement – especially in the current media landscape.

Freedom of the media and freedom of speech are freedoms that are granted to us by our Constitution.

A reward that we received after many years of struggles.

A reward that we used with great respect and best practice, that is until social media.

With the rise of social media, many people, including media organisations have abandoned their responsibility.

A good example of this was the recent case of the alleged Dros rapist. Millions of people named and shamed him on social media without thinking of the possible outcomes.

A few media organisations followed suit in spite of the fact that the Criminal Procedure Act prohibits it.

The point here is not whether the guy is guilty or not, but the social and legal responsibility we have.

ALSO READ: Court reporting more dangerous than you think

The credibility of social media hangs by an extremely thin thread and if we do not report responsibly and ethically we might just snap it.

Another example is what the recent Sunday Times saga whereby journalists published wrong information tarnishing reputations.

Even though the newspaper publicly apologised, lives were still ruined.

Even though any media entity has the ability to apologise, lives are still ruined.

Even if you apologise after publishing something on social media, lives are still ruined.

Exercise your freedom responsibly.

ALSO READ: The fine line between helping and consulting

  AUTHOR
Arisa Janse van Rensburg
Journalist

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