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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Respect the role of the PNG Media

The  Media  Council  of  Papua  New  Guinea  has  appealed  to  government  institutions  and individuals   to respect the   role of   the media and allow journalists to report without fear or favour.

The concerns coincide with World Press Freedom Day celebrations around the world on  May 3,  2 016  and  come  on  the  back  of  local  journalists  being  subject  to  intimidation  and  threats  of  harassment, when reporting on issues relating to the arrest of high profile personalities recently as  well as being banned from covering related stories.

The  MCPNG,  as  an  example,  highlighted  recent  incidents  that  bordered  on  intimidation  and harassment of journalists.

April  18,  2016:  Members  of  the  Royal  Papua  New  Guinea  Constabulary  (RPNGC)  including  a  Deputy  Commissioner  shouting  at  members  of the  media  and  telling  them  to  leave  after  they  arrived  at  the  National  Fraud  &  Anti - Corruption Directorate (NFACD) premises at Konedobu, NCD.

April  22,  2016:  A  journalist  from  a  daily  newspaper  was  called  by  members  of  the  RPNGC  and  advised  that  he  would  be  interrogated  over  mobile  phone  text  messages  that  he  exchanged  with  the  NFACD  director,  Chief  Superintendent Mathew Damaru.

April 28, 2016: Journalists from the  Post - Courier were barred from entering the University  of  Papua  New  Guinea  (UPNG)  in  Port  Moresby  to  cover  student  preparations for an anti - government protest.

April 30, 2016: Student leaders at the UPNG advised that media organisations Post – Courier, The National
and  television  station  EMTV  were  banned  from  entering the campus to cover the student protest and boycott of classes.     

MCPNG  President  Alexander  Rheeney  said  the  incidents  point  to  a  trend,  where  officials   choose  to  be  discreet  in  their  dealings,  despite  holding  public  offices  that  are  and  should  be  subject to scrutiny.

“Policemen are officers of the law and in the course of dispensing justice should be subject to public scrutiny, including media coverage for the benefit of ordinary Papua New Guineans,” he said.

On  the  attempted  interrogation  of  the  reporter,  Rheeney  said  the  act  in  itself  is  a  worrying  development for journalists, who swear an oath to protect their sources when writing stories in  the public interest.  

“The actions of the policemen in   attempting   to   interrogate the   reporter   concerned are unwarranted. While media organisations do not wish to stand in the way of and respect police  investigations,  the  reporter  and  his  or  her  employee  should  be  contacted  and  a  meeting  arranged in the presence of a third party, preferably a company lawyer,” added Rheeney.  

Recent events at the UPNG which led to the banning of three media organisations recently  also needs  to  be  put  in  perspective according  to   Rheeney.  The ban only puts the student  movement  at  a  disadvantage  as  coverage  by  the  media  organisations  would  give  them  a  nationwide footprint.

“Including the two daily newspapers in your media strategy can instantly give you close to 100,000 readers on any given day. Throw in the coverage of EMTV and the story gets into the homes of over a million  viewers, students need to be smart in how they  use the media, a ban  doesn’t help their cause,” said the MCPNG President.

Rheeney  said  concerns  of  bias  in  news  coverage  should  be  raised  directly  with  the  media  organisation concerned or  the  MCPNG . It should be submitted with evidence, if any, to enable the media organisation or the council to consider it on its merits and for action to be taken.

Editor’s Note: Alexander Rheeney can be contacted on Telephone +675 3091021 for an Interview. Queries on the work of the MCPNG should be sent to the email address media.councilpng@zoho.com


Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on Tuesday, May 03, 2016. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article


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