Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu on Thursday said government appreciated the role of the media during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic following government’s classification of the media as an essential service during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The country will go into a national lockdown on Thursday at 23:59 and Mthembu called on all South Africans to play their part to contain the spread of the virus and “to protect the health and life of all of us.”
He urged media employers to ensure that journalists had access to protective supplies and equipment to keep them safe and safeguard the wellbeing of those journalists may come into contact with during the lockdown.
“Government is doing its best to balance the provision of information with the preservation of the good health and life of all stakeholders during this period. In a moment of crisis such as we are experiencing, journalism that informs, enlightens, empowers and brings hope to citizens and stakeholders is an important national asset and necessity,” he said.
Quality journalism, he said, had contributed in reducing misinformation, the negative impact of fake news and unfounded panic emerging from some social media users and other sources.
He stated that in the weeks ahead during the national lockdown, the engagement between government and public, community and commercial media would help the country ensure that people understood and implemented the stringent measures that were in effect in the country.
He added that government was finalising arrangements to ensure it provided uninterrupted alternative media opportunities via live streaming, to limit the numbers of people who will be together in a single venue at any given point in time.Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia