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PINA President Statement on Media Freedom Day

PINA President Statement on Media Freedom Day 3 May 2014

“Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda”

First of all, I take this opportunity as President of our Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Ltd, to wish all national media associations (NMAs), media organisations, media practitioners, academics, our partners, our governments and the people of the Pacific a Happy Media Freedom Day 2014.

As we know, 3 May is set aside every year to commemorate World Media Freedom Day.

It is to acknowledge the role of the media and how it impacts on the welfare and the fundamental rights of an individual and a nation. For us in the Pacific, the media has been part of our different societies in the form of our traditional ways of passing messages through beating of drums or slit drums and blowing of conch shell to singing and Today, we are still communicating but through modern mediums and using the ever advancing technologies and systems. It is an undeniable fact that there is a major lack of understanding yet in the Pacific on the role of the media, and the knowledge of effective and appropriate use of the media and communication for that matter.

This year we celebrate "Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda" as the theme of our commemoration of Media Freedom Day 2014.

As we remember and salute our fellow journalists and comrades who have either lost their lives, injured or locked up in jails while carrying out their duties, we in the Pacific need to take a good look at ourselves and within our media fraternity and ask ourselves "how can we effectively advocate media freedom so that our people, from the villages up to the higher places have a better understanding of the work that we do, and thereby embrace media freedom as their freedom truly?

It is easy to issue press releases and condemn our governments and leaders whenever we see or hear of media suppression in one of our member countries. But I think we have failed to take time to understand our Pacific ways of dealing with challenges in life.

Media can play a vital role in the empowerment of our people so they can be effective in their participation and contribution toward economic developments.

Successive PINA boards and the current one have maintained as a priority the need to strengthen and empower National Media Associations (NMAs) so that they can engage with stakeholders in advocating the role of the media and media freedom in their Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)

Accordingly, I wish to reiterate PINA's stand and call on our governments, traditional and potential media development partners to assist in the development of NMAs at the local level and strengthening PINA at the regional level through direct support and leadership training for media leaders who are leading these organisations. Since 2005, PINA has encouraged NMAs to develop national media code of ethics and complaints mechanisms to self-regulate their media industry.

The Pacific needs a "media friendly" environment. This can only be achieved when we in the media work in partnership with our governments, non-governmental organisations and the civil society. To this end PINA acknowledges and congratulates recent positive achievements in Vanuatu as a result of collaborative engagements between Media Asosiesen blong Vanuatu (MAV), Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV), Vanuatu Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (VANGO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Vanuatu Government. The official launching of the country's
National Policy on Right to Information by Prime Minister Moana Carcasses a few weeks ago is a landmark achievement for the country and a challenge to other regional NMAs and their governments and people.

PINA also acknowledges and congratulates media leaders and members in Fiji for their ongoing positives developments in setting up their Fijian Media Association (FMA). I am informed that the new Fijian Media Association (FMA) was officially registered in Suva this week. PINA has been supporting our media colleagues in Fiji to set up their national media association. We congratulate them for this great initiative to have a body to represent the interests of all media workers in Fiji.

PINA also congratulates leaders and members of the Media Association of Solomon
Islands (MASI) in their efforts to reactivate MASI. In Honiara today, MASI will be organising a Media Awards to recognise the achievements of media workers in Solomon PINA also acknowledges the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) funded under the Australian government aid agency, AusAID of their continued support and engagement in developing and strengthening leadership and media practice in the region through their training programs in our island countries.

I believe this year's media freedom day theme is a call on the media industry to develop, or review and strengthen its internal governance system. If Media Freedom is for a Better Future, then it must be first understood and embraced by our peoples – beginning at the grassroots level in the villages’ right up to the highest level of government.

Happy Media Freedom Day and God Bless!

Ends

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