Regional Media Institute Marks Press Freedom Day with Free Articles Offer

By Edris Redi

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 27, April 2016 (IMC) - The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) offers free articles that focus on the state of press freedom to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a UNESCO declaration on press freedom in Africa.

According to a press release the African Media Initiative (AMI) sent on Wednesday, 40 journalists and media experts assess the state of media freedom and expression, access to information and media pluralism and diversity in sub-Saharan Africa.

“These articles are available for publication to all media at no charge,” AMI’s press statement sent to Ifriqiyah Media and Communications stated.

The Windhoek, Namibia based MISA which is represented in 11 Southern Africa member countries, accordingly says “all print, online and broadcasting media editors, as well as specialist media publications, newsletters and journalism initiatives” can use  for free a portfolio of over 40 quality articles and audio-visual content on free media, free expression and access to information in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The articles, written by journalists and media experts from West, East and Southern Africa, are being made available by MISA in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of UNESCO's 1991 Windhoek Declaration on an Independent and Pluralistic African Press,” the statement added.

The UN proclaimed May 3, the date Windhoek Declaration was adopted as World Press Freedom Day (WPFD). The articles, accompanying pictures and short videos can be accessed online for immediate use in the run up to, on or after WPFD May 3, at (select WHK25 MEDIA KIT). The articles are being made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.

"MISA decided in consultation with a range of other African media freedom NGOs and experts to publish a special newspaper with broad popular appeal to general readers on WPFD this year, under the title of the African Free Press,” Zoé Titus, the Regional Director of MISA, said from the organisation's regional headquarters in Windhoek. “We will distribute the newspaper on May 3 at various WPFD events across Africa in partnership with other media freedom organisations, but are also making the articles and audio-visual content accessible online on MISA's website”.

Titus also said that this way, MISA hopes to extend their reach as a public information service to citizens in Africa and to provide African media with a range of stimulating content from which to choose. Media, NGOs and other organisations outside Africa are also free to make use of any of this content and are not restricted to publishing these only on WPFD 2016.

The two co-editors of the African Free Press, Jeanette Minnie and Hendrik Bussiek – both experts on media freedom challenges in sub-Saharan Africa – have commissioned articles on a wide range of topics pertinent to the African media environment (see table below). Online editor, Kyle James, commissioned a series of video messages asking an important question: what do young people want from their media? Kyle also adapted the written articles for online publication. (Those versions are available on MISA's website.) The articles and other Declaration-related information will be featured on various social media channels in the run-up to WPFD.

Throughout the project, MISA was supported by its long-term partner - DW Akademie (Germany's leading organisation for international media development), as well as the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and fesmedia Africa - the Africa media project of (Germany's) Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).