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Press freedom remains pipe dream as long as journalists are poor

Poverty is bad.

Poverty should be declared a human rights issue. A press freedom issue.

Yes, we have put in place all measures to fight poverty – including killing all poor people with poverty.

This is why there is hope in the fight against poverty. The fight against poor journalists.

Because the fight against poverty can be won; will be won. There will be no poverty by the Year of Our lord 2030 because all poor people shall have died of poverty.  We declare here that poverty will end by the stroke of midnight on December 31, Year of Our Lord 2029.

The majority of media men and women live in poverty. Poverty is a greater threat to press freedom than guns and boots.

There will be press freedom by the year 2030 because all poor journalists will be dead by then. We shall have a society free of the press.

Only then shall we have press freedom because freedom makes no sense when poor, hungry journalists are made to report on the rich, the famous, the powerful.

Press freedom makes no sense when the journalist is a rabid hungry dog that society expects to be vegetarian. Press freedom makes no sense in a society where scribes struggle to get by.

It is absurd, nay, mad, to expect press freedom in a society that gives more to rogue pastors in tithes than its watchdogs. It is an absurd society that thinks press freedom means not caring about its press men and women – not caring about what they eat, where they live, whether their children are in school, their spouse is well; not caring at all.

It is absurd, nay, mad, to expect hungry watchdogs to bark at fat thieves. Because, like all canines, dogs are carnivorous. Dogs need to eat, need their time at the dinner table.

So, whoever needs a good watchdog must feed it first. And here in lies the problem: How do we feed a watchdog without wanting to own it? How do we feed a watchdog to be a watchdog for an entire village, an entire society, and not for the few that have extra bones to throw around?

How do you feed a dog with good intentions? How do you feed a dog without wanting to make it a pet to bark at your every command?

Press freedom is a good slogan to throw around, a good phrase like, democracy, like Amandla Africa, like Harambee…good slogans. But press freedom is an absurd slogan in a society that places little value on its press men and women; a society that believes that dogs ought to be chained to the gate; that dogs do not need to be fed; that dogs can fend for themselves.

Until society begins treating its watchdogs not like pets; not like villains; not like a necessary evil, press freedom will remain a cliché that fellows talk about when they wake up one morning to find that they have been robbed.

Until society makes a conscious effort to safeguard its press, not just from guns and boots, but from poverty too; until society makes a conscious attempt to improve the lot of its journalists, their general wellbeing; their food, their shelter, their children; then press freedom will start getting defined as a society that is free from the press. Because there will be no press left.

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