By Nigel Nyamutumbu
It’s now been 30 years since a landmark conference organised by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in Windhoek, Namibia to deliberate on the future of the media, then largely dominated by the press.
The resolutions of that conference, framed as the Windhoek Declaration, outlined the democratic principles of what a free media entails and sets parameters and safeguards to ensure that press freedom is protected.
Based on the Windhoek Declaration, the global family of nations resolved to adopt these resolutions by setting the principles as the international standard of press freedom and set aside May 3 as a commemorative day to reflect on the state of media freedom in-country, regionally and globally.
The principles are the benchmarks in which press freedom is assessed and the commemorative day serves as an opportunity to introspect, celebrate gains and set priorities for the future.
Three decades on, the principles remain the same though in a different context.
The dynamics of the media sector have been significantly changed in terms of structure, technological advancements and funding models.
The structure of the media has significantly changed from being ‘top-heavy’ to being more of an open market and opportunities have widened for the entry of new players outside the conversional mainstream media.
On this account, there has been a steady realisation of pluralism and multiple regional, national and community media emerging and contributing to the wider democratic discourse.