When the industrial revolutions began in Europe in the 19th century, many countries used the media to trumpet the government’s role in development.
In the beginning, media outlets – radio, TV and print media – were owned by governments (and in some instances still are). In many counties today, the media is considered as the 4th pillar of government beside the executive, legislative and judicial branches.
In many developing countries, journalists work under difficult circumstances. Many of them are threatened by security agents, who take their orders from government officials. Journalists who take a stance that is critical of the government are sometimes called spies. In some African countries, where there is conflict, many journalists have been reportedly harassed, detained, and some are even killed in the line of duty.
In many cases, these acts of violence and harassment against journalists are contrary to the constitution and laws of the country in which they are occurring. Sadly, South Sudan is one of the countries in which media rights are eroding, especially since conflict erupted one year ago. Reporting both sides of some stories has become dangerous for journalists. The South Sudan government has said that any journalist who interviews rebels is a rebel him- or herself and could be subject to prosecution. The army has said that all security-related stories have to be vetted by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) spokesman before they are published. Journalists have disappeared, fled into hiding or been imprisoned. Many have fled to neighboring Uganda and Kenya. In such situation citizens will definitely follow rumors either they will ignorant of what is happening around the country and the region.
Governments in the developing countries need to reconsider their actions towards media industries in their countries. They have to follow their constitution and to guarantee the freedom of expression, freedom of speech and to give room for different opinion so for the sake of development. Let’s work together towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals of 2015.