Pacific Media Watch

30 March 2012

FIJI: PNG government official causes stir at media conference

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Tongan publisher Kalafi Moala at the PINA Pacific Media Summit. He has reacted to remarks made by PNG Information and Communication deputy secretary Paulius Korini. Photo: Wansolwara

SUVA (Radio Australia Pacific Beat/Pacific Media Watch): A Papua New Guinea government official has been called arrogant and ignorant after claiming at the Pacific Media summit that it's not the media's role to challenge governments.

Paulius Korini, deputy secretary of PNG's department of information and communications, told Pacific Beat on Tuesday that rather than challenge governments the media should work in partnership with governments.

Mr Korini called for more responsible reporting by journalists.

Tongan delegate at the summit in Fiji, Kalafi Moala, says he's spoken to several other delegates who have seen the transcript of the interview, and they are as angry about it as he is.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Kalafi Moala, a Tongan delegate at the Pacific Media Summit in Fiji

MOALA: I think if this is the message that he was bringing to PINA it's a wrong message. Mr Korini is definitely entitled to his own opinion. For him to spit it out and to tell media what to do in terms of their job and their objectives, whether they are to challenge government or not to challenge government, whether they should partner with government or not, that is really to me a streak of real arrogance. And not only arrogance and ignorance, and it does I believe Bruce confirm the kind of whispers and things that come out of Papua New Guinea concerning that particular government's attitude toward media. And Mr Korini himself comes straight out of the office of the government, he's a deputy official there from the ministry of communication and information. I want to say to Mr Korini that statement made concerning the media is not only ignorant, very arrogant, and we in the media do not stand for that. The theme has always been one of the major objectives of media is to be able to speak to power, speak truth to power. And whether that involves challenging governments, whether there has been allegations of corruption or bad practice in terms of governance, who is he to tell us that the media shouldn't challenge governments.

HILL: Has there been much reaction to what he said here at PINA and in journalism circles around the Pacific?

MOALA: Well since the interview of course there has been the transcript has come through and a number of people who are not at the PINA conference basically take those statements as if that that's a major theme that's being discussed here at the PINA conference. And you and I both know that that's not at all, it's still the opinion of one man, although he was at a particular workshop and brought that out. And I thought well I didn't know it, but when it becomes now have gone out through the airwaves and people have listened to it and read the transcripts, I think that I want to be a representative of the media to say, nonsense.

HILL: Might it perhaps not be a good idea for government officials like Mr Korini to be here at PINA so they can exchange these views with the media directly? There are a number of government officials here at PINA aren't there?

MOALA: Yeah it's interesting because the way it came through for government officials they'd come and dialogue, let's talk together, this statement was more or less like an edict. Media, this is what you're supposed to do or not supposed to do, and that's just so wrong. I very strongly without any qualification say that is really a bunch of nonsense.

HILL: Have there been other journalists here at PINA that you've spoken to share the same opinion?

MOALA: The people that have known about it, the statement, have kind of reacted toward it, they're saying my gosh, what do you mean? Do you mean that we're just to be a lap dog that crawls up to the laps of government and basically partners with government and be controlled by government? So in essence that's what the guy is saying. For somebody, who I understand was a former journalist and somebody who is working in the ministry of communication and information, that is a very unacceptable statement. The objective and the reason for media existence, not only in the Pacific but anywhere, and one of our roles is to be able to be a tool or medium to speak truth to power, and that doesn't change.

Listen to Pacific Beat interview

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