Civilised nations today mark World Press Freedom Day to pay tribute to journalists and to reflect upon the state of media freedom.
Press freedom is a fundamental right that has come to be recognised as a prime measure of other freedoms.
Nations are judged by their level of media freedom. Democratic governments respect the rights of the media and of their citizens to air their views and to make their own choices in life.
Repressive regimes curb dissent and control every aspect of their people's lives.
We need only look at Zimbabwe to see how dictators muzzle the media to blind the public to misrule.
Sadly, press freedom is on the decline, even in wellestablished democracies.
South Africa is no exception, despite its constitution that enshrines media freedom.
Unfortunately today our media must fend off a bid to stifle their ability to report the news.
The draconian film and publications amendment bill poses as a bid to curb child pornography and children's access to pornography. But it is the work of politicians and bureaucrats with contempt for the fourth estate.
It boggles the mind that President Thabo Mbeki's government indulges the whims of these enemies of media freedom and ignores the widespread condemnation of the planned new law.