Raymond Louw, left. Picture: Sunday Times
Raymond Louw, left. Picture: Sunday Times

One of the reasons we still enjoy a free and vibrant media is the vigilance of Raymond Louw, the veteran journalist and tireless campaigner for freedom of expression, who died on June 4, aged 93. As editor of the Rand Daily Mail (1966-1977), Louw courageously built on the legacy of Laurence Gandar in standing up for egalitarianism against apartheid. "Seek truth from facts" was his mantra. It’s a message we’d do well to remember right now.

Later, as SA slipped down the world media freedom rankings with the ANC’s attempts to set up a media appeals tribunal, and when it attempted to enact the Protection of State Information Bill, Louw was at the forefront of the opposition.

"Mr Press Freedom", as he came to be known, helped change the SABC’s mandate from state broadcaster to public broadcaster, and he led a number of media bodies and campaigns.

As journalists go to court now over the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act (Rica), and to defy intimidation from Julius Malema’s EFF, they do so very much because of Louw’s legacy.

"When sinister pedlars of disinformation learn to fear you for the facts you report, they will begin to slander you, and when that happens you know you are doing your job," he advised a journalist a few months ago. "A well-informed society works," he added.