'Newsrooms must be free from management and corporate influence'- Kamit

Lady Winifred Kamit answering a question on newsroom independence vs corporate responsibility (Pic: CAD43 Ltd)
Lady Winifred Kamit answering a question on newsroom independence vs corporate responsibility (Pic: CAD43 Ltd)

THERE is a clear line of separation between the newsroom as an independent space, and corporate management and the board of directors of the organization it reports for.

This was explained clearly by prominent woman lawyer, Lady Winifred Kamit at the inaugural PNG Media Freedom Day Breakfast held at the Gateway Hotel to commemorate World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday, May 3rd.

Lady Winifred was responding to a question from Festus Maiginap, a journalist with EMTV, on whether there was a 'grey area' when it came to the interests of the newsroom, and the interests of the corporate management and board.

"When it comes to corporate obligation, and an independent reporting body, my question to the panel - is there a fine line between having an independent media...um....enabling in a corporate entity. I believe these are some challenges that um, where the change, from independence and later, being affiliated with a corporate company, I'm sure there should be a fine line of having corporate...what's the word....in being responsible in terms of corporate and our reporting. Can you guys um, explain on that. The question of corporate, social responsibility?" asked Maigainap.

Lady Winifred's response, was straight to the point:

"What it comes down to is independence of the media. I say, without hesitation, that the newsroom, is out of bounds for anyone that is sitting on the board. It's not a fine line. It is a definite line. The newsroom must be free, and that's the way it should be. If there is anyone sitting on the management or the board, they should be concerned with the running of the business. Not the editorial team, and what they should, or should not do," Lady Winifred explained.

Lady Winifred is a renowned PNG woman lawyer who sits on the board of Post-Courier, a position she has held for many years.

Former Secretary for Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology, and former President of Divine Word University, Jan Czuba, was the third discussion panel member at the Media Freedom Day breakfast, and he had this comment to make regarding the independence of newsrooms in organizations:

"I think that corporate social responsibility, from all of industry, can be understood, is based on universal knowledge, and the basic one is to protect the truth, be guided by the truth, and reporting on the truth. So journalism is not a job. It is a vocation. Like nurses and doctors. They have gift and deliver it with love. And that is the corporate social responsibility is to protect the truth and expose the truth. And I think this is very important for journalists to protect values and protect integrity," Fr. Jan told the gathering.

A total of 25 journalists (which includes their News Manager), from EMTV were terminated because they took a stand against corporate and management intimidation, raising the concern on whether organizational management and oversight includes encroaching on to the independence of newsrooms, and dictating how news is to be presented, to suit corporate interest.