Monday, 22 May 2017

PNG Media Council gets hard on media personnel saying 'news content must be empowering" - How journalists around the globe risk their lives to just get news.

THE mainstream media that disseminates information and news to the people has a role in the democratic society and contributes to development agendas.

So far the mainstream media in PNG have come under public criticism and at times journalists being attacked. Journalists must know that "a pen is mightier than the sword" and what they disseminate must empower people and promote the vibrant democracy.

The Media Council of PNG president recently urged newsrooms to improve their editorial content in the course to disseminate news to empower readers, listeners and viewers.

“Is your news content empowering or disempowering Papua New Guineans?” asked Council president Alexander Rheeney.

“If your news content is not empowering Papua New Guineans then sorry, you have no business in the media industry,” the president added.

The job of journalism takes some form of courage and the journalists love their job. Before the journalists and editors empower the people with the news content, they must first be empowered themselves to look for it and coil it for the reader, viewer or listener. They must find the fashion and courage to get the news.

If the journalist are not empowered to get the news - they lazily wanted to do it because it paid them then there is a bigger problem.

Journalists, photographers, video crews, drivers and others in the media fraternity who go out there to collect news must first be employed and find that courage in their jobs.

During the eve of election, political propaganda will most luckily influence the reporters and editors with politicians ready to pay for biased news.

The mainstream media in PNG comprise:

The National


Sunday Chronicle

Wantok Niuspepa




FM Central


PNG Loop


Click TV

There are some key issues why PNG journalists not doing their job rightly. The following are some:

1) Journalists
Journalists are low paid despite being well educated. An average cadet reporter is paid between K150-K200 a week and he/she has to survive in a place like Port Moresby, with skyrocketing rental costs and high day-to-day expenses. Compare that with other professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants. Journalists’ salaries are in no way comparable. There is therefore a high turnover of journalists joining the private sector and newsrooms are filled with mainly young reporters. Family demands have seen experienced reporters leaving the mainstream media for well-paid government jobs, leaving huge gaps of experience and aptitude in the reporting of governance issues. The absence of a journalist union aggravates the situation because employers can hire and fire at will.

Various concerns have been raised about why journalists are quick to cover press conferences organised by certain ministers. I recall a press conference I attended on Christmas Eve 2003 by a government backbencher. The backbencher, who was also the parliamentary leader of a political party, was merely welcoming a new MP into his camp, but the number of reporters present was comparable with the Prime Minister’s monthly press conferences. After the press conference, I noticed the MP beckoning my colleagues to follow him to his office. I tagged along and, there in his office, he handed out bundles of K50 notes.

2) Media organisations

Media organisations are pressed to make money. Advertising rates have increased significantly and so have other costs, such as talkback, which were once free. Today for one hour’s talk on HIV/AIDS, corruption or the environment, there is a fixed charge of between K3,000–5,000. It seems that making money is more important than promoting governance for a better PNG. Since their corporatisation, media organisations such as the NBC have been urged to make money, despite its mandate to inform Papua New Guineans. The ratio of news to advertisements is 60:40. Peter Aitsi, former President of the PNG Media Council, admitted at the 2005 Media Freedom Day at the University of PNG that the media had obligations to its shareholders. Addressing students during the celebration, he said the media was a service provider and shareholders expected some form of return for their investment.

3) The public’s perception

The consumer focuses on what concerns him most. He will attend to his own parochial needs rather than worry about issues such as governance. If the issues propagated are linked to him/her, time is set aside to deal with this. Other than that, people get carried away doing their own thing. Take the sales of newspapers during the State of Origin rugby series, when rural provinces have significant sales, compared with ordinary days.

4). Locally driven agendas

There are no local, indigenous movements opposing corruption that can be supported by the PNG media, which must therefore work out exactly how it can dissect global issues and present them to the public. The media could easily promote how to be a responsible Papua New Guinean. It could also push issues about being a successful Papua New Guinean. So far, environmental groups such as Eco Forestry Forum have pushed for stringent control of logging practices, which are a global and local issue. The media does not endeavour to encourage home-grown issues; it plays a stereotyped role, opting to present news and information and not worrying about its effects, even if it exacerbates a situation.

5). Taking for granted the reader’s ability to understand

I believe one of the professional cardinal sins committed by journalists in PNG is to assume that everyone understands and interprets information as they do. This notion has been the subject of a lot of debate with the media claiming that it is up to readers to understand, and that they try to simplify the information wherever possible.

So let's try to understand why PNG media is such that never report to standard.
The media has no obligation to publicise any specific issue and addresses each issue when it arises. Media companies want to make money, often at the expense of good governance, despite giving rebates like free coverage up to a certain point. In other words, the media’s prime mandate is to make money and survive.

Reporters are well trained yet underpaid, and there is often a lack in the depth of their experience. Former Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan (1995) concludes succinctly: ‘It would be better to have experienced senior journalists assigned to write [about] important subjects, rather than young journalists who often have no sense of history and appear to have been assigned to a task simply because they are on duty and there is an assignment.’ And, even if issues are presented, most Papua New Guineans don’t grasp the essence of the issues that are being reported.

Morris Dogimai, chairperson of the Wakawa Theatre, and his team visited 436 villages between Oro and Central Provinces and were astounded to find that people still weren’t attuned to the mass awareness programs promulgated by the National AIDS Council. This stark reality shows that outside observers are mistaken if they think that the PNG media has adequately addressed key issues facing the country. Because of a lack of a coherent, precise and simple message, the bulk of the populace remain marginalised.

While the media has shown that it can cover global and governance issues, it neglects its potential to be a responsible partner in PNG’s development. As Chan says, ‘Perhaps if it was seen less as a product, a commodity, a source of ratings and income, and more as the lifeblood of democracy and freedom, more as the people’s right to know the truth, then we would have a better source of news in the world today.’

PNG Journalists need to wake up and report events much bias and political propaganda....

Below are some reporters and photographers throughout the world who commit their time to tell the story and capture the moment.......... what really is meant to be a journalist.

Wounded Reuters photographer Gleb Garanich, who was injured by riot police, takes pictures as riot police block protesters during a scuffle at a demonstration in support of EU integration at Independence Square in Kiev November 30, 2013. Riot police in the Ukrainian capital Kiev used batons and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of pro-Europe protesters from the city's main Independence Square, witnesses said. REUTERS/Stringer
Kenji Nagai of APF tries to take photographs as he lies injured after police and military officials fired upon and then charged at protesters in Yangon's city centre September 27, 2007. Nagai, 50, a Japanese video journalist, was shot by soldiers as they fired to disperse the crowd. Nagai later died. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Samia Nakhoul, now Reuters Middle East Editor, is seen in the back of a car after being wounded at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, April 8, 2003, in this image taken from video footage. A U.S. tank fired a shell at the hotel from which she was reporting. REUTERS/Pool via Reuters TV
Reuters Greek photographer Yannis Behrakis takes cover during a gun battle between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 2001. REUTERS/Stringer
Journalists, including New York Times photographers Tyler Hicks (R- in glasses) and Lynsey Addario (far L), Getty Images photographer John Moore (2nd L), freelance photographer Holly Pickett (3rdL) and freelancer Philip Poupin (4th L) run for cover during a bombing run by Libyan government planes at a checkpoint near the oil refinery of Ras Lanuf March 11, 2011. Hicks and Addario, along with NYT correspondents Stephen Farrell and Anthony Shadid, went missing after falling behind the lines of Muammar Gaddafi's advancing forces two days earlier. REUTERS/Paul Conroy

French photographer Remi Ochlik is seen in this picture taken in Cairo, Egypt, on November 23, 2011. French photographer Remi Ochlik and American correspondent Marie Colvin were killed on February 22, 2012 in the besieged Syrian city of Homs when rockets fired by government forces hit the house they were staying in, opposition activists and witnesses said. At least two other journalists and possibly more were wounded in the attack, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said. Colvin and Ochlik were both prize-winning veterans of wars in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere. REUTERS/Julien de Rosa/Handout
A riot policeman punches Greek photojournalist Tatiana Bolari during a demonstration in Athens' Syntagma (Constitution) square October 5, 2011. Police officers attacked several members of the press covering the protests, injuring at least two members of the media. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
The window of a taxi is hit by a bullet as Reuters' photographer Paulo Whitaker was injured during an operation at Vila Cruzeiro slum in Rio de Janeiro November 26, 2010. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker.
Asif Hassan, a photographer with French news agency Agence France-Press (AFP), sits in a police vehicle after being shot in his chest during a protest organised by Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), against the satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad as the cover of its first edition since an attack by Islamist gunmen, in Karachi January 16, 2015. Pakistan police fired tear gas and water cannon at about 200 protesters outside the French consulate in the southern port city of Karachi when a demonstration against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo turned violent. "AFP photographer Asif Hasan suffered wounds resulting from gunshots fired by ... protesters, police have not opened fire," Abdul Khalique Shaikh, a senior police officer in southern Karachi, told Reuters. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
A woman reporter runs with a rebel fighter to avoid snipers at the frontline against the Islamic State fighters in Aleppo's northern countryside October 10, 2014. REUTERS/Jalal Al-Mamo
The wife of a local reporter is led away as he lies on the ground (R) at the scene of a massacre of a political clan, which included several journalists, on the outskirts of Ampatuan, Maguindanao in southern Philippines November 24, 2009. REUTERS/Erik de Castro
A female journalist lies on the ground after inhaling gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes with protesters near border between Israel and Central Gaza Strip October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
A photographer takes his position behind an empty water tank during an operation at Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro November 27, 2010. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes
Wheelchair-bound Palestinian freelance photographer Moamen Qreiqea takes pictures of protesters calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, in Gaza City October 1, 2012. Qreiqea, 25, lost both his legs in an Israeli air strike in 2008 while taking pictures east of Gaza. The father of two is determined to continue his career despite his disability. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem.
Palestinians carry a cameraman injured during clashes between Palestinian police and Palestinian militants in Jenin. Palestinians carry a cameraman injured during clashes between Palestinian police and Palestinian militants in the West Bank town of Jenin May 24, 2005. REUTERS/Saeed Dahlah
Friends, colleagues and family members embrace while mourning the death of Luis Carlos Santiago during his funeral in Ciudad Juarez September 18, 2010. Santiago, a 21-year-old news photographer working with Juarez-based newspaper El Diario, was killed after an attack by gunmen. Santiago was driving a car with another photographer who was seriously injured in the attack, according to local media. REUTERS/Alejandro Bringas.
Reuters Congo correspondent David Lewis (L) takes cover under a U.N. armored car during machine gun and mortar fire in Kinshasa November 11, 2006. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic.
A Turkish riot policeman pushes a photographer during a protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul June 11, 2013. Turkish riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of protesters armed with rocks and fireworks as they tried to take back control of a central Istanbul square at the heart of fierce anti-government demonstrations. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Reuters Palestinian photographer Abed Omar Qusini (C) falls to the ground after being injured during clashes in the West Bank city of Nablus May 3, 2004. REUTERS/Stringer.
Photographer Serhiy Nikolayev sits on an armchair in the village of Pesky, north-west of Donetsk, February 28, 2015. A Ukrainian journalist was killed by shelling in east Ukraine on Saturday, his newspaper said, even as the Ukrainian military reported a significant drop in rebel attacks boosting hopes for a two-week-old ceasefire. Nikolayev died after artillery fire struck near the village of Pesky, north-west of the rebel-held city of Donetsk, daily newspaper Sevodnya reported in an online statement. REUTERS/Max Rokotansky.


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