"So This is Democracy?" is an annual publication produced by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) to record and reflect on incidents of media freedom violations monitored by MISA in the previous year. The publication is based on daily monitoring, research, and analysis gathered in the 11 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries where MISA operates. The theme for the 2015 edition, which reflects on violations in 2014, is "photojournalists under fire." According to the report, "oppressive governments understand the power of images and in the year 2014, photojournalists and other media workers capturing photos and video were prime targets for attacks by authorities trying to control the media." The report notes that images have become more powerful through social media. "A picture tells a thousand words and in the current age of technology, pictures can be distributed around the world in just moments. This year, oppressive governments strove to control and stop the spread of information and truth through images." The attacks included assaults, detention, confiscating equipment, deleting photos and, in the most extreme case, the fatal shooting of a reporter, usually while reporters were attempting to cover police actions or public protests.
According to MISA, while 2014 was particularly difficult for photojournalists in southern Africa, the situation of media freedom all over the world was a matter of concern. "As wars raged across the globe, governments lead the fight for information, seeking to control media messages through violence, intimidation, restrictive legislation and unfair arrests and sentences."
Each of the reports covers some or all of the following:
- Journalist safety
- Free Expression and the Law
- Freedom of Information
- Censorship and Banning
- Election and the Media (for those countries who had elections in 2014)
- Free Expression Online
- Looking into 2015
- Violations and victories - highlighting specific examples of attacks on journalists, media freedom infringements, or legal cases involving the media.
Email from Zoe Titus, Regional Director of MISA, on May 2 2015.