MISA was established in 1992 in response to the passing of the Windhoek Declaration, a statement by African journalists promoting freedom of the media.
The Declaration was agreed upon at the UN-sponsored seminar, ‘Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press’, held in Windhoek, Namibia, in 1991. It was later endorsed by the UNESCO general conference.
The Declaration calls for a press that is ‘independent from governmental, political or economic control or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals’ and a pluralistic press that represents ‘the end of monopolies of any kind and the existence of the greatest possible number of newspapers, magazines and periodicals reflecting the widest possible range of opinion within the community’.
As the Internet has grown in more recent years, it would be fair to assume that ‘newspapers, magazines, and periodicals’ now encapsulates online news-sites and the various types of blogs that offer people access to information.
The Declaration further states that ‘the worldwide trend towards democracy and freedom of information and expression is a fundamental contribution to the fulfilment of human aspirations’.