Pacific Media Watch

24 April 2018

SOLOMON IS: Watchdog role of media highlighted in USP journalism talk

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Dr Shailendra Singh ... "news media is an important and a crucial pillar of democracy." Image: Solomon Star

By Ronald Tito'ona
HONIARA (Solomon Star/Pacific Media Watch): Local journalists in the Solomon Islands have again been reminded of their watchdog role by keeping the government accountable in the fight against corruption.

Head of the University of South Pacific journalism strand Dr Shailendra Singh spoke to a group of journalists in a four-day Anti-Corruption Reporting Workshop in Honiara on Monday.

He said the role of a journalist was important in order to keep people informed and to keep the government accountable.

“The priority is scrutinising the government,” said the regional media specialist.

Dr Singh added that the private sector and civil society organisations are also prone to corruption.

Informing public

“People need to be informed to be able to analyse government’s performance, because we have elections every 4 to 5 years.

“And, people need to be fairly informed, to be able to make a right choice,” he said.

Dr Singh explained that if people are informed of the government’s conduct or policy, they can choose to either vote the government out or keep it in power.

“That is why it is so important that we, the media, scrutinise both the government conduct and policy on a regular basis.

“This is something we do constantly, but it is good to revisit and be reminded of our roles because we do this all the time, it can become a routine,” Dr Singh told journalists.

Dr Singh is firm that this was how the news media performed its Fourth Estate role and upheld a country’s democratic system.

'Very important role'
“So the news media is an important and a crucial pillar of democracy in any country. Without it, the government is no longer as accountable to the people.

“Without the news media, the government does not feel as accountable to the people. The government can act with impunity, and indulge in corruption more freely.”

Local journalists were also told to be vigilant and with a priority placed on reporting corruption, as their role is crucial in a representative democracy and they should not under-estimate that.

“So do not underestimate your role. You get a lot of criticism in the course of your work.

“People you question will criticise you, and they will also try to belittle you.

“So don't let them distract you from this very important role,” said Dr Singh.

He reminded the participants that they were representatives of the public, and without the media the public was handicapped in terms of the choices they made.


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