UNESCO launches media trends report in Johannesburg

The UNESCO 2014 “World Trends Report on Freedom of Expression and Media Development” was launched regionally at a colloquium of media researchers on 20 October 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Participants in the event, which took place during the Colloquium for the Media Policy and Democracy Project (MPDP) of South Africa, applauded UNESCO for gender mainstreaming in the report.

Dr Glenda Daniels, an academic and researcher at Wits University, South Africa, stated that the “most important point is that reports such as this one have put on the centre pages the particular and universal experiences of women – highlighting progress but also importantly, shining the torch on gender discrimination that is widespread from country to country”.

Also speaking at the launch, held at the premises of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, was Ms Zoë Titus, Executive Director of the Media Institute for Southern Africa. MISA works to promote press freedom across the Southern African Development Community.

The report, supported by Sweden, provides a gender-sensitive global overview of media freedom, pluralism, independence and safety, as well as offering detailed chapters on each region: Africa, Arab Region, Asia and the Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe and North America.

Copies of the African chapter were distributed at the launch as part of the MPDP colloquium.

The MPDP is an inter-university collaborative research project between the journalism departments of the University of South Africa (UNISA), Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The project is co-led by Dr Julie Reid, who was one of researchers who contributed to the UNESCO World Trends Report.

Addressing the launch event, UNESCO’s regional communications advisor Hezekiel Dlamini said that the report was a useful resource for both media academics and civil society organizations alike, and that it could be usefully incorporated into tertiary syllabi or as a resource to inform further research.

The colloquium assembled 50 participants from South Africa’s schools of journalism, media researchers, media civil society organizations, policy-makers, journalists and journalism students.