TODAY marks the annual commemoration of World Press Freedom - a day when all global citizens should respect the crucial role that free media play in a democracy and development.
It highlights the fundamental statement of principles of media freedom, promotes independent and pluralistic media, encourages media's contribution to community development, pays tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty and discourages viciousness against media operations.
While our media has done well to hold the government and other powerful institutions to account by exposing corruption, human rights violations, abuses of power and misappropriation of national resources committed daily by those in power at the expense of the society; it has yet to enjoy trust and credibility among the masses.
The questions that the masses ask about mainstream media include the following:
lDoes the media support or undermine the democratically elected government?
lWho controls the mainstream media groups and what are their agendas and motives?
lDoes the media do a good job when it comes to covering issues affecting the masses, such as hunger, poverty, service delivery and development?
There is also an increasing tendency in the mass media sector to allocate more space to trivial things such as fashion and the affairs of the rich - and to aggressively advertise a consumerist lifestyle beyond the reach of the masses.
This happens at the expense of the development and aspirations of the masses, particularly in remote underdeveloped areas.
So we have to carefully monitor our media to ensure ithey function to the benefit of the country's masses and not to the detriment of the Constitution's vision.
Mass media should be the voice of the voiceless - the hope of the hopeless.
Thabani Khumalo Durban