Defending the 'Fourth Estate' in PNG, an ongoing challenge

TIPNG Chairman, Peter Aitsi was Keynote Speaker at the inaugural PNG Media Freedom Day Breakfast (Pic: TIPNG)
TIPNG Chairman, Peter Aitsi was Keynote Speaker at the inaugural PNG Media Freedom Day Breakfast (Pic: TIPNG)

DEFENDING the 'Fourth Estate' as a crucial aspect of a progressive and thriving democracy continues to be an ongoing challenge for media in Papua New Guinea, a perspective repeatedly highlighted in events recognizing World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday, May 3rd.

This year's theme: 'Journalism Under Digital Siege', was echoed throughout several commemorative events staged to mark the day.

At the inaugural Media Freedom Day Breakfast held at Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby, members of the media fraternity, past and present, gathered to celebrate media freedom, remember fallen comrades, and to take stock of where the PNG Media is today.

Organized by a motivated group of Graduates of Divine Word University's Journalism School under the name CAD43 Limited, the breakfast featured as guest speakers, Transparency International PNG Chairman, Peter Aitsi, and Veteren Journalist and Founder and CEO of Lekmak, Scott Waide, and a discussion panel featuring Media Council of PNG President, Neville Choi, Prominent Woman Lawyer Lady Winifred Kamit, and former DWU President and Secretary for the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Fr. Jan Czuba.

Mr. Aitsi highlighted the increasing role of the media, to hold executive government, state agencies and the judiciary accountable for the decisions they make - something TIPNG is aligned on and committed to pursuing.

"What is the relevance of TI to the work of the media? Well, I believe we have a shared role - and that is to hold those in power, accountable. Accountable for the decisions they make on behalf of we, the people, accountable for the use, or misuse of public funds - the taxes that we all pay, accountable for the deteriorating government services such as the condition of our hospitals, the overcrowding and poor facilities of our schools, and the very poor state, of what we call the public service," Mr. Aitsi said.

"We, as a group, have to hold our people accountable for the decisions they have made to cause our country to go into further debt."

He also highlighted the need for stronger vigilance in media newsrooms, to systems and processes.

"Reflecting on the work of the media, we must ensure we have strong editorial policies and practices within our newsrooms. We must also commit to the ongoing training of our journalists. We must actively support communications and journalism programs being offered by our universities."

Mr. Aitsi spoke of the work TIPNG is doing in partnership with the MCPNG, on reigniting the PNG media through the establishment of an Investigative Journalism Award program.

"As part of our support, we have partnered with the Media Council of Papua New Guinea to host several training workshops and several industry events aimed at reigniting media practitioners. In 2021, with the support of the European Union, we launched the Investigative Journalism Award, aimed at encouraging and rewarding excellence in investigative reporting."