However, in the state, corollary to these, is what is often termed “the fourth estate”, the media. The role of this estate is all-pervasive and crucial in the advancement of any society in this modern world of ours. Although the relationship between the press and governments are naturally conflictual, journalists are not necessarily enemies of the rulers and the governments they lead.
Governments should regard media practitioners as partners-in-development rather than as mischievous gadflies that must be neutralised at the slightest opportunity that presents itself. Journalists serve a very important role in society and they should be given the opportunity to ply their trade in an enabling environment.
In any civilised and progressive society, the media creates public consciousness by collecting the views, attitudes and information towards certain issues. It is without doubt the best means to spread awareness. It is the media that creates and drives public opinion so that people have the right information to make informed choices and contribute optimally to issues of common concern.
It is the media that could bring the people together to strive for the common good. It is not for naught that one of the leading political thinkers of the modern era and president of America, Thomas Jefferson in a letter to his friend, Edward Carrington, wrote: “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”]]>