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The role of media in a democratic society in South Africa

The role of media in a democratic society in South Africa

The role of media in a democratic society in South Africa (Grade 12 Life Orientation Notes):

Key Concepts

What is Electronic media?

Electronic media are any media that need electricity or batteries, such as the Internet and emails, websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, radio, TV, film and DVDs.

What is Print media?

Print media includes books, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, brochures, posters and billboards

What is a Whistleblower?

Whistleblower – a person who reports illegal or immoral activities.

What is Investigative journalists

Investigative journalists – news reporters who try to find information that is of interest to the public, but that someone or an institution may try to hide.

What is Blasphemy

Blasphemy– something that is insulting.

The role of the media in a democracy

The role of the media in a democracy answers:

  • The role of the media is to inform society about daily events that are newsworthy.
  • In a democracy, the media’s communicated, and educate.
  • The media play an important role in informing citizens about their government, their rights. and freedom and their health and safety.
  • Expose violations of human rights.
  • Report on unlawful activities, the court and court cases.
  • Expose corruption and mismanagement.
  • Communicate, inform and educate and entertain.
  • Shape the public’s opinion.
  • Give political information that can inform voters.
  • Identify problems in our country and communities.
  • Promote debate and discussion.
  • Promote nation-building, by giving access to diverse viewpoints and world views, as well as sports cover.
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The role and responsibility of the media in a democratic society includes

  • Being fair
  • Honest and
  • Reliable

Examples of when the media does not fulfil their roles responsibly include

Below are some of the reasons why the media does not always fulfill their role in a democratic society:

  • Most media make money from advertisements and sponsors. The media therefore aim to satisfy the interests of their advertisers. These may not the same as the interests of the public. They may withhold information or give biased reports, to satisfy their sponsors.
  • News entertains rather than informs. Some media are filled with gossip, scandals, sex and violence rather than facts.
  • Political news is often more about personalities, than about politicians’ work and contributions. Media publicize the scandalous private lives of politicians and their families, which have nothing to do with their work.
  • The lives of famous stars are made difficult by the paparazzi (photojournalists who follow or chase after celebrities and politicians in both their public and private lives, looking for scandal) who invade their privacy. The media are like vultures when celebrities are in trouble; they persecute rather than protect them.
  • The media sometimes exaggerate dangers and make people afraid for no reason.
  • News and interpretation of events may be biased, incomplete or incorrect.
  • The information in the printed press, radio and TV has been selected from a large pool of information. Somebody, somewhere, made a decision on what was necessary to tell the public and what not. What is not told may be just as important as what is told.
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Freedom of Expression and Limitations

Freedom of limitations means that you can express your ideas and opinions freely through speech, writing, and other forms of communication. Freedom of expression is a basic right in a democratic society, and it applies to everyone, including individuals and the media. People may not express viewpoints that violate the rights of others.

Four limitations to freedom of expression

The right in the constitution does not include:

  • Propaganda for war
  • Incitement of imminent violence
  • Advocacy hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion
  • Incitement to cause harm

This means you have freedom of speech, but cannot use hate speech. You cannot use racist language, or discriminate against anyone. You can nor encourage people to take part in violent acts, or hate others. The media may not publicize and distribute anything that can damage or harm people.

Bill of Rights

What is the Bill of Rights?

It is the right of all people who live in South Africa called the Bill of right

Human Rights that you should be aware of

  • Equality: All people are equal and must be treated equally
  • Personal privacy: You cannot be searched or have your home or possessions searched without a warrant. (Principal of the schools, by law, do have the right possession of illegal substance and dangerous weapons) People cannot open your mail or listen to your phone calls.
  • Freedom of religion, belief and opinion: Everyone can say or print or photograph whatever they want provided they do not break the law.
  • Freedom of association: You can associate with whoever you want to.
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