“Our first responsibility is to listen to views from the public, not take orders from career officials or political appointees.”
Whose department? Senior PNG officials have been 'reminded' that the news media are not their department. Image / Post Courier website
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Governments should see news media as a partner – not one of their departments, reminds PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“Departmental heads have to remember an old saying in government when it comes to news media,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller -
“- that’s not my department.”
Warning vs. warning
PFF is responding to news from Papua New Guinea, quoting Health Secretary Pascoe Kase, describing him as having “warned” all media not to talk to “any” person unless he authorises them.
That warning was backed up by Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan, who was reported as having “reminded” news media to “always” follow “protocol.”
But PFF is responding with a warning of its own.
Much worse off
“Papua New Guinea will be much worse off from corruption and mismanagement if news media wait for departmental heads all the time,” says Miller.
“Our first responsibility as news media is to listen to views from the public, not take orders from career officials or political appointees.”
Instead of seeing media as the enemy, Miller says governments should see news like a frontline against corruption, as called for by citizens and endorsed by island states at multiple international meetings, over decades.
Listen to the public
“May we also remind departmental heads they are there to listen to the public, which pay taxes funding their salaries.”
PFF welcomed other news last week of a meeting, hosted by Pacmas, the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, and UNDP, the United Nations Development Fund, that was held in Fiji to improve relations between Parliament and media.
“Governments need to hold more of these meetings, and regional partners should look at widening the scope to include more news media”, says Miller.
Balanced, objective and impartial
In a country still heavily dependent on public broadcasting for information, Papua New Guinea has long had laws requiring that the government provide “balanced, objective and impartial broadcasting services” including that “adequate” access be given to public opinion - with questions of “accuracy” to be set by the NBCPNG.
Section 5d of the Constitution calls for “freedom of conscience, of expression, of information and of assembly and association.”
Papua New Guinea is also a member of the United Nations, with the article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guaranteeing that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Media and government relations
PFF is repeating calls for governments across the region to revisit a 1990 media relations conference, held in the Cook Islands, as a long overdue step towards better mutual understanding.
Hosted by the Cook Islands with the Pacific Islands Forum, the conference saw comprehensive objectives laid out for improving relations between news media and island governments.
However there was never any follow up, with both governments and news media failing to act on the recommendations.
Media warned to follow protocols (subscription) http://www.postcourier.com.pg/login/?ref=%2FStories%2Fmedia-warned-to-follow-protocols%2F
Monica Miller PFF Chair News Director South Seas Broadcasting American Samoa firstname.lastname@example.org +6842584197
Alexander Rheeney PFF Co-Chair President Media Council PNG Papua New Guinea email@example.com +67578045266
Bernadette H. Carreon PFF Co-Chair Palau Correspondent Guam Business firstname.lastname@example.org +680779430
Netani Rika PFF Coordinator Communications Director Pacific Council of Churches Fiji email@example.com
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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