National Press Club honours ‘Black Wednesday’

“The National Press Club will never forfeit its responsibility to defend media freedom in South Africa. “Media freedom is one of the cornerstones of democracy and this freedom, entrenched in the South African Constitution, should be guarded at all times,” says National Press Club Chairman Yusuf Ambramjee. “It is essential that the media industry and all South Africans honour Media Freedom Day – 19 October. This day gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on how the scene has changed since the birth of South Africa’s democracy in 1994.” On 19 October 1977 the newspapers The World, Weekend World and Pro Veritate as well as several black consciousness organisations were banned. Editor Percy Qoboza was arrested and jailed together with other journalists, including former Sowetan editor Aggrey Klaaste. The day became known as Black Wednesday. “The National Press Club commemorates this dark day 32 years ago on which media freedom in South Africa was under threat. The banning of these organisations was a huge setback for media freedom in South Africa. We honour those organisations and veteran journalists who fought for freedom of speech. “Media freedom plays a very important role in any country. It is an essential pillar for any democracy as it creates and motivates public debate. The National Press Club, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, recognises it responsibility towards media freedom in South Africa. We see ourselves as a great platform for debate and discussions,” says Abramjee. The past year has seen the National Press Club move forward at a dynamic rate, hosting many newsworthy briefings like the recent ones with President Jacob Zuma, Athletics South Africa President Leonard Chuene, the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa and new Police Commissioner Bheki Cele, the interim board of the SABC, the Gauteng Premier and MEC’s, the Minister of Home Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the Mayor of Tshwane, Gwen Ramakgopa. 2 The club also awards a Newsmaker of the Year each year, based on the impact of the news that was generated and the amount of media coverage generated. The newsmakers for 2008 were Eskom and the Congress of the People. Previous recipients include President Thabo Mbeki and former Presidents Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, Charlize Theron, Zachie Achmat and the Treatment Action Campaign, the late Hansie Cronjé, the South African Rand, Jacob Zuma, Helen Zille and a host of other prominent South Africans. The club recently met with editors in Gauteng who all pledged their support. (Ends) Issued by: Martin van Niekerk Junxion Communications Tel 012 804 5199 For: Yusuf Abramjee National Press Club Tel 082 441 4203 Date: 18 October 2009

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