South Africa: We Need Journalists to Be Our Window On a Wider World, Especially During Lockdown


As we temporarily give up certain freedoms to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot give up press freedom.

Azarrah Karrim kept her camera rolling as the officer raised his gun; he paused as she screamed "I'm media!" then shot at her. Reporting in Johannesburg, she had pressed record as police fired at people to disperse them on the first day of South Africa's coronavirus lockdown. The rubber bullet narrowly missed her.

Around the world governments are seeking to prevent the coronavirus spreading by expanding their authority to control and monitor people, limiting freedom of movement and assembly. Such measures might be necessary for the general public, but journalists play an essential role in documenting application of these new powers -- and helping us think through this extraordinary moment.

On the day that police shot at Karrim, photographer Tracey Adam held her phone steady, documenting a Cape Town officer's approach and his demands for her to stop filming. His chest quickly fills the frame, obscuring the group of officers and a form on the ground behind, but the audio is clear. "I have the right to take video," Adam protests. "No, no, no, no," the officer retorts. His hand reaches out...

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