New year – new site: PFF starts 2017 with a website to rebuild, and a new focus on action as well as scrutiny. Image / PFF
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“Having highlighted freedom and ethics problems facing news media since 2008, PFF hopes to lead into its tenth anniversary next year by suggesting actions and implementing solutions.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1st January 2017
Mataora mataiti ou – happy new year !
Pacific Freedom Forum starts 2017 with a new online platform.
The new site will act as a focus point for media freedom and ethics as we take action heading into a brand new year.
Helping out : PFF Editor Jason Brown, assisting PIMA, the Pacific Islands Media Association, at their AGM last month. From left, PIMA Chair Will ‘Ilolahia, adviser Manu Fotu, vice Chair Judy Bataillard, and board member George Vea.
PROBLEMS, ACTIONS AND SOLUTIONS
Having highlighted freedom and ethics problems facing news media since 2008, PFF hopes to lead into its tenth anniversary next year by suggesting actions and implementing solutions.
“We are currently looking at our founding structures, and what we can do to ensure that our advocacy reaches the widest possible audiences,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller.
“That means building on existing partnerships, with IFEX, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, and closer to home, PINA, the Pacific Islands News Association, and PIMA, the Pacific Islands Media Association.
“We will also be forging new partnerships to build our capacity, including moving on from our volunteer-only status towards an established secretariat.”
A leading concern remaining from 2016 is continued attacks on freedom of expression in West Papua.
Indonesia’s Tempo magazine quotes a human rights organisation recording that :
“declining indexes were apparent from restrictions of freedom of expression, for instance criminalization of human rights activists, Papua residents and journalists. Setara Institute recorded that the highest number of human rights violations occurred in Papua, where 29 people were criminalized, 2,397 people were arrested during protests, 13 people were killed, 68 were shot and [there were] two murder attempts in 2016.”
PFF has called on Indonesia to stop attacks on media freedom in West Papua, calling for foreign media to be given full and free access to provinces ahead of Jakarta hosting World Press Freedom Day in May this year.
Three new elements of PFF scrutiny emerged this last year – an assault against a social network user in Vanuatu, and the arrest of a 12 year old girl in Papua New Guinea over a Facebook post; a failure by Commonwealth and Pacific Islands Forum officials to fully scrutinise censorship of local news media in the lead up to elections in Nauru, and the long neglected issue of bullying in newsrooms, especially against women, usually by male bosses.
PFF is actively seeking funding this year to go towards its scrutiny of media freedom and ethics issues.
Funding sought will support operations of the secretariat, and establishment of a Pacific media ombudsman, first mooted at a PFF conference in the Solomon Islands in 2013.
Another significant development from 2016 was new levels of cooperation between the various Pacific media groups.
A notable event was the first ever joint statement between the Pacific Freedom Forum, PINA Pacific Islands News Association based in Fiji and PIMA Pacific Islands Media Association, based in New Zealand.
PFF also played a pivotal role assisting PIMA, proposing radical new levels of transparency and accountability, with members agreeing at their annual general meeting two weeks ago.
PFF says that the three groups have had professional disagreements in the past, especially over ethics, and accountability.
TURNING WEAKNESSES INTO STRENGTHS
“But there seems to be an agreement evolving to focus on building media strengths, as well as exposing weaknesses and suggesting potential solutions,” says Miller.
Debate over professional standards should, for example, be seen as a strength, not a weakness, she says.
Greater scrutiny improves news transparency, and media accountability adds to the credibility of the Fourth Estate, says Miller.
29 October 2016
Free access call for Fiji - PFF
2 October 2016
Fiji action against gag letter shows leadership - PFF
22 September 2016
Regional journalists push job safety for PNG media
29 August 2016
Death of Samoa media pioneer unites media
19 August 2016
Abandon 'overkill' case against Fiji Times – PFF
28 July 2016
PNG police should protect press, people - PFF
24 July 2016
Free and fair access to all media - PFF
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