Pacific media face the same problems as world press – shrinking numbers and declining support as the world marks 100 years since the onset of global conflict. Photo / Deutsche Welle Akademie
For immediate release:
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Sunday 3rd March 2015
Fighting for press freedom is one of the best way of honouring sacrifice from the first of two world wars, 100 years ago.
"One hundred years after the war to end all wars, there are still wars all around the world," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.
"One of the longest running wars is still going on right in our own region, in West Papua, where there are few freedoms, especially for the press."
Press freedom must include all parts of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, not just some, says Gabi, as PFF marks World Press Freedom Day 2015.
"Papuans have fought and died for freedom, as have islanders from all across our vast Pacific.
"Full sacrifice has not guaranteed full freedom of expression."
PFF welcomes the call from Human Rights Watch for Indonesia to end media restrictions on Papua.
But PFF says that while problems are by far the greatest in Papua, there is also growing concern for the survival of media in the rest of the region, and around the world.
PFF is backing a challenge from IFEX, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, to support press freedom and "let journalism thrive" globally.
PFF shares IFEX concerns about freedom of the world press under threat from autocratic governments, endemic corruption, and financial vulnerability.
PFF joins IFEX in calling "for the kind of strong, supportive systems that allow a free press to flourish" worldwide.
Those systems must include new funding models to replace failing business models, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.
PFF Co Chair Monica Miller says that the new funding models are urgently needed to make up for decades of losses.
"The United Nations identifies better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age as leading issues," says Miller.
"Better reporting is possible with better funding, and gender equality is essential to ethical reporting, ensuring all voice are heard."
"However corporate and political pressure is threatening not just news media safety but also news media survival."
Miller warns that the Fourth Estate is fighting its own losing war with impunity for those who suppress the press.
"Stop shooting messengers," she says.
"Where the press dies, liberty dies with it, along with democracy, stability and security."
For that reason, PFF welcomes criticism from UNESCO about news media being "sewn up" by governments, corporate monopolies and media barons.
Communications industry figures show that there are five times as many employed in public relations as news media.
"Journalism needs similar resources if it is to communicate effectively against war, poverty, inequality and environmental disaster."
Years of talk about a journalism crisis must now turn to solutions within post-2015 agendas, says Miller.
For the Pacific, that includes the continued need to develop media accountability systems such as the Pacific Media Ombudsman office suggested by PFF.
LINKSHRW: End Media Restrictions on Papua
IFEX: Let Journalism Thrive: On courage, resilience, and finding a way
UN: Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age
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PFF Chair Titi Gabi | GM PNG Loop | Papua New Guinea Mail: PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, Papua New Guinea | Mob: (675) 7314 3929 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PFF co-Chair Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob (684) 258-4197 | Office (684) 633-7793 | Email: email@example.com
PFF Editor Jason Brown | Aotearoa New Zealand | Mob: +(64) 224340831 | Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
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