Minister of Communication,
Representative of the United Nations Systems Coordinator,
Officer of the Chief of State,
President of the Superior Office of Freedom of Communication,
Ladies and gentlemen,
One year ago, we launched this journalism film festival to offer a space of reflection for journalists and members of government responsible for communication. The results were positive, so we thought to repeat this experience with participation from decision makers and others involved in the media. I would like to take advantage of this moment to thank the Minister of Communication, whose participated in this festival at the highest levels since last year. I would also like to thank the Superior Office of the Freedom of Communication, whose President actively participated in the Festival since its launch. I appreciate our partnership with the United Nations and the Bilingual Journalists Club, who spared no effort to make this festival a success.
Ladies and gentlemen, this film festival takes place in a time when the press is dramatically evolving. Social networks are more and more overtaking the supremacy of traditional media. Young people turn towards these modes of communication that they see as more adapted to their needs: instant and available at the fingertips at every moment. In 2015, Facebook and Twitter were the leading sources from which Americans got their news according to a study at the Pew Research Center based on a sample of Americans aged 18 and older. This increasingly worldwide tendency renders journalists’ tasks more important and more delicate. Indeed, consumers of information are more numerous, more varied, and more demanding and the rapidity of information passes at the speed of light. Therefore, the press’s responsibility becomes paramount. This responsibility must not dissociate itself from the freedom of the press, of course. The two contribute in a lasting fashion to the emancipation and democratization of society. I would like to say that the rise of citizen journalism online and the proliferation of information sources – giving access to viable information from the portion of responsible journalists in an environment conducive to a free press is more and more sizeable. All in all, accuracy must not be sacrificed in favor of rapidity or exclusivity.
Dear journalists, you contribute to the success of democratic processes, of your country, and of the world, thanks to your objectivity, your neutrality, and your integrity in the investigation and treatment of information. As President Barack Obama said at this year’s White House press correspondents dinner, “Taking a stand on behalf of what is true does not require you shedding your objectivity. In fact, it is the essence of good journalism. It affirms the idea that the only way we can build consensus, the only way that we can move forward as a country, the only way we can help the world mend itself is by agreeing on a baseline of facts when it comes to the challenges that confront us all.”
The film festival, does not cover all the problems of journalism. Nevertheless, it offers us a crucial moment to speak to ourselves. To speak of journalism, of its evolution, and above all its fundamental place in a democracy. It is true that the free and responsible press must be accompanied by a system of finances and investment to assure its survival. It is that which we will follow today, a short video on the importance of investment in an independent and responsible press. This video places us in a context of modern investment. The narrator evokes contemporary financial solutions that are realistic and effective. We wait with impatience for an animated discussion between media owners and journalists on how to finance and support more independent media in a Congolese context, without forgetting the importance of a responsible press.
It is the reason for which we have chosen a short video for the opening day and specifically asked for the participation of leaders in the media sector. “Spotlight” and “Cry Freedom” will be shown the two other days. They direct us to the heart of the problems that undermine our society and the role of the press as a watch-dog. I encourage each media outlet represented here to be active in the debate and to share their experience.
I cannot finish my remarks without thanking each of you for having accepted our invitation. It is a testament to your willingness to contribute to the emergence of a free and responsible press. I hope that these three days of film festival will be engaging, that the debates will initiate exchanges, and the sharing of rich and beneficial knowledge for all. A musician famous in the two Congos said: “Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, vérité eyaka na escalier, mpe ekomi.” So may the truth always triumph!