PINA Adddress on World Press Freedom Day 2013

By Moses Stevens Pacific Islands News Association
Media development in the Pacific is progressing well in terms of infrastructure and human resources indicating or portraying the fact that there needs to be some good attention paid to the sector as a significant player or component in the whole concept of "good governance" in the region.

PINA has always maintained that media being the 'traditional' fourth estate in any democracy, has a significantly important role in nation building in any country; And that as such media needs to be rightfully given its place as one of the components in an open, transparent and accountable governance system.

This year we celebrate the theme "Safe to Speak" to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May.

For this, PINA would like to call on the members of the Pacific media family to think beyond their line of duties and the work they do in gathering, compiling and disseminating information as the normal process of informing, educating and entertaining our societies, and think of the part of the people and how this year's theme is relevant to them.

Do our people understand the role of the media? Do they know how to use the media? Do our leaders in our democratic island countries understand the role of the media and are they ready to accept it as a component of good governance?

"Safe to Speak" would be better understood or appreciated only when the above questions are addressed at all levels of our Pacific societies.

At this point PINA would like to call on all governments of the region to help establish, strengthen and empower their national media associations, through their appropriate ministries.

We need strong national media associations in the countries of the Pacific, with their own local and regional journalism code of ethics and self regulatory mechanisms to ensure professionalism among practitioners (mindful of our respective countries' cultural, spiritual and moral values) and to avoid the industry being taken over by investors (who may not be media professionals) who would be more interested in the money making side of the industry.

This is crucial because the quest to make more money often leads to misreporting and or misrepresentation of issues that then leads to governments stepping in, and in some instances causing unwarranted "unsafe" working environment for genuine and professional media practitioners and operators.

The Pacific needs a media free environment through and with which the people, at all levels and status within the society, are guaranteed their safety to speak and to express their views and opinions freely and without fear.

We have and continue to proclaim in our societies that Media Freedom is the people's freedom. But we in the Pacific media and especially the local associations, have a lot yet to do in helping our people understand our work and responsibilities in being their eyes, their ears and their mouthpiece.

To our governments, we are their mirror in which they look to check on their leadership, and the successes and failures/weaknesses in their leadership. From a proactive view, this is important for the governments to be more transparent, accountable and honest to their electorates and the nation as a whole.

Therefore, PINA would like to call on all media companies and organizations to join their national media associations in making this year's celebrations of WPFD the beginning of revisiting their national media bodies, and the need to re-unite in re-building their associations.

PINA also calls on all Pacific governments to take a more proactive approach toward their respective media industries in providing support toward establishing or strengthening their national media associations, through enhanced closer working relationship in exploiting and developing, and protecting their respective media sectors.


Moses Stevens- PINA President (mo.stevens@yahoo.com)




Comments

Why bother to ask? said…
Moses Stevens:

Yes, indeed the Media (the Print Press in particular) is a mirror in which all the ministries of a government shall be obliged to see themselves and to assess their performance.

In 2007, the Fiji SUN Nadi Office was approached on multiple occasions concerning the then suspected (but now confirmed) trafficking of Fijian women to Iraq: a War Zone. They were given ample information some of which was reinforced by the advice received from a British Army Major who was recruiting on the ground. He confirmed that entry to Iraq by any civilian was only through Kuwait on military transport. So no one was going to Dubai for a life of glamour in a Dubai Mall Spa! Ahead was a life of enforced and entrenched bonded labour. The newspaper's staff at the time in Nadi showed: indifference, UNSMART understanding and a failure of curiousity. While their compatriots were being held in the Green Zone in Baghdad. The Editor in Suva for a while did provide some assistance of value: investigative. So, that we came to know that Timoci Lolohea was allegedly involved and he had local Fijian agents recruiting for him (at least two known personally to us). About 90 persons were approached to our then understanding. If the Media in Fiji are so unconcerned about the welfare of their fellow citizens that they have failed to unravel this story of neglect and zealous, verminous money-making, what is their worth? Instead, they left it to The New Yorker Magazine to publish a most revealing story from a US Marine Officer who decided he must do something to assist these TCNs (Third Country Nationals) in distress. Well done, New Yorker! A proud tradition has been upheld and women from Fiji, Uganda, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh and the Philippines finally found the assistance they so badly required. Has this article ever been published in Fiji? Why bother to ask?
john said…
What is this hype about media freedom? Who is interested in this? Yes, it is the urban elite who wants to be entertained by scandalous reporting in the media. This are malicious, jealous and bitter people who loved the old style obnoxious reporting in the Fiji Times. But these times are over now. With a progressive media development decree in place and a watchful government keeping an eye on extremists, our media is now aligned with the thinking an feeling of the majority, the grassroots and the poor. No longer do we have to endure the endless criticisms forked out the the government, the bickering about everything that our AG says or does. We are now able to read positive contributions in the Fiji Sun which clearly is the best media outlet Fiji ever had. And then there are the positive blogs such as this and Graham's. Anybody who is interested in the truth can come here and be educated. You don't have to resort to biased and unfair international media which apparently have a huge agenda pulling Fiji down. I was shocked, when two weeks ago, the Economist, a normally high quality paper published an article that rubbished our PM, his democratic reforms and his unselfish leadership style. This nonsense has to end and we need some international media laws that allow us to punish those who publish bad stories about Fiji abroad.
Anonymous said…


As part of the World Media Freedom Day celebrations by the USP Journalism Students Association I was invited and had accepted an invitation to be the Chief Guest and speaker on their program.

The USP management instructed the Head of School (Professor Mishra) and the Dean of FAL (Dr Kendrayate) to have me removed from the program and this was done.

It is an ongoing tragedy that our regional university continues to limit the academic freedom of not only the academic staff but also the students, while depriving this Fiji citizen of his freedom of speech and academic discourse to the journalism community.
Professor Wadan Narsey
Measure Up on Mothers' Day! said…
Come here to be educated? Well, one might think so. But a great deal more is required than this. There are huge gaps in our understanding of the role of the Media in ANY society. Let alone a democratic one. In a democracy the Duty of the Fourth Estate is established and it is very great indeed. If a government is failing to protect innocent civilians from harm and in particular harm which may befall them 'outre mer' (overseas) then the Media has an overriding (sic) obligation to attend to this. Brave investigative reporting is now evidenced in Syria and also in Somalia and adjacent territories. One might suggest that Fijian reporters and their Editors and Publishers should take a leaf from the moleskin notebooks of such people. Not a few are women. Heroes of Journalism have died in Syria in the past two years: the late Marie Colvin for example. Each and every one determined to report and to stand up for the observed truth of the situation. For how can any conflict be truly assessed without 'boots on the ground'? Turning the other cheek is no option. Going forward: you will be held to account in the future for your failures. Any School of Journalism worth its salt must inculcate a desire to reach the truth through facing up to the reality on the ground fearlessly, indomitably. If the politicans of the past have failed (and they have), face up to them as individuals. Read them the Riot Act of their failures to ensure that Fijian Citizens be protected and those who prey upon the vulnerable within Fiji are corralled and taken to task.

Today is Mothers' Day internationally. Can there be any cogent explanation as to why Fijian Mothers were duped into travelling away from their families and their home to satisfy the whims and the money-making greed of traffickers? Seek out the Ministries andthe Civil Servants who refused to step up to their undoubted obligations. Ensure that five years later, the record is set to rights. Because at present you are singularly "Found Wanting". A Happy Mothers Day to all Fiji Mothers. May our sons and daughters freely choose to 'Measure Up'!

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