Press pioneer : death of Oseah Philemon is the second major blow for the Pacific press, following that of a Papua New Guinea colleague, Susuve Laumaea, this same month. Photo / LoopPNG
“OP was an inspiration for generations of news and other media workers in Papua New Guinea”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PFF, Friday 29 December 2016
“OP was an inspiration for generations of news and other media workers in Papua New Guinea,” says Monica Miller, Chair for PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“He was also a strong regional voice for spreading ethics and independence among his colleagues, in newsrooms all over the Pacific.”
As a vice-president of PINA, the Pacific Islands News Association, the region’s oldest news organisation, Philemon was quick to praise and defend colleagues, including foreign editors working in the islands.
As well as a regionalist, Philemon was also a realist. During a 2005 gun summit, he expressed scepticism about the power of the media to influence society:
“Newspapers were available only in towns; radio was listened to by those who could afford it, while TV was a luxury to many Papua New Guineans.”
He may had have similar scepticism about the advent of the internet, and it’s creation of a new divide, this time digital.
Already saddened from the loss of Susuve Laumaea, Papua New Guinea news media were stunned with the news that “OP” had also died.
Tributes poured in for both men, including from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Described by some sites as ‘retired’, the last piece written by Philemon appeared online just four days before his passing – still with an eye to a headline pun.
It was the other daily, The National, that linked the passing of Philemon with an earlier PNG media memorial – that of Susuve Laumaea, a former Chair of the Pacific Freedom Forum.
If Laumaea was renown for his volcanic criticism of journalism ethics, Philemon was an entire mountain range of media ethics and independence.
Perhaps his most compassionate moment in service of both those qualities came during the 1999 PINA convention held in Pape’ete, French Polynesia.
His embrace of Maire Bopp Dupont, a journalism student; the first Pacific Islander to go public with HIV, set the tone for sympathetic press coverage from some 200 news media leaders from all over the Pacific Islands.
A quick online search reveals just over 120 links to Philemon and his stories quoted in academic studies, and other sources under Google Books.
Overall, there are 3,310 links online for Philemon.
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The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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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