On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, Pacific journalists and media organizations vowed to step up their efforts to protect freedom of expression and media freedom. For most of them, ensuring the safety of journalists is one of the ways to achieve independence and freedom of the press, which are crucial for democracy.
World Press Freedom Day is led by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has declared this year’s motto “Information as a Public Good.”
Below are some messages from journalists in the Pacific led by the Fijian Media Association (FMA) who have highlighted the importance of an independent press in times of crisis.
The FMA takes this moment on World Press Freedom Day to thank and pay tribute to its members for their courageous and committed reporting on the Covid19 pandemic which has played a key role in keeping Fijians safe from the virus. We thank you for the sacrifices you have made, the long hours endured, for taking the flack and criticisms in your stride, for asking the questions that needed to be asked, and for the creativity to disseminate information through various platforms to the Fijian public. We urge our journalists to keep learning and developing from the experiences gained, to keep improving their work in disseminating information to all Fijians, to work with the authorities but keep them accountable and honest, to scrutinize the decisions of our leaders and ensure they meet the highest standards, and to ensure that all voices are heard including those that are marginalized. We thank all the key stakeholders we work with – the Government, the Opposition, the leaders of industry and civil society and the Fijian public for their support and we urge them to keep staying true to the ideals and principles of media freedom. To our journalists – you have earned this day – World Press Freedom Day. — Stanley Simpson, General Secretary, Fijian Media Association,Editor Mai TV
Thanking all the journalists, photographers, camera people, editors and support staff who have been working hard in ensuring Fiji is well informed in these trying times. We play an important role and regardless of the backlash faced at times for different reasons, today we come together to say we do things for our people and will continue to do so, while we put our own interests secondary, which is the passion for this job. —Indra Singh – FBC News Director
I take this opportunity to wish every Fijian the very best as we face trying times. I refer to comments by two special people…UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Maintaining independent, fact-based reporting is an essential global public good, critical to building a safer, healthier and greener future.” Award-winning Filipina journalist Maria Ressa said something interesting as well: “A lie told a million times becomes a fact. Without facts, we can’t have truth. Without truth, we can’t have trust.” I wish to acknowledge all Fijian journalists on the frontline… these are certainly not normal times… we are not immune to the dangers of the virus. Thank you for the passion you show daily. Let’s continue to stay safe, and adhere to social distancing rules. I wish you all a happy Press Freedom Day.— Fred Wesley – Fiji Times Editor in Chief
The Government should be applauded for the way it has included and made use of the mainstream news media. It ties in with the World Press Freedom Day theme of Information as a Public Good. The three examples of catergorising the news media as essential service: 1. The holding of daily press conferences with questions and answers. 2. Treatment of news media as an essential service. 3. Prioritizing of the vaccination programme for journalists who are out there as frontliners.–Rosi Doviverata, Managing Editor Digital and Readership Development
As we mark World Press Freedom Day 2021, let us remember we continued to face multiple challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown access to accurate and comprehensive news coverage has never been more important. For our journalist let us continue to ask the right questions and get to the truth. It is therefore important to understand why it is necessary to produce high-quality independent journalism – stories that we publish must be fact-checked and well-sourced because disinformation can spread as fast as the COVID-19 virus itself, and harm ourselves and people around us. Journalist must be responsible in publishing factual stories that are objective, balanced and trustworthy. We are living in a time when the public has a lot of information, and verifying facts for public consumption and bearing witness to the truth have become more important than ever – even more so in a severely challenged media landscape. –Dreu Vukailagi – Fiji TV Head of News
These are challenging times for us as most of us are kept away from our loved ones to perform our line of duty. We spend a lot of hours working to keep our fellow Fijians updated and informed. Our fight against the spread of disinformation shall continue. Now, more than ever, the art of good journalism is vital in spreading clear and accurate information during this pandemic. With people glued to their devices, seeking the facts and information to help keep them safe, journalists are the threads that keep the citizens connected to what’s happening. As George Orwell stated “Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose.”- let’s all continue with the good work that we have been doing all this while and maintain consistency, accuracy, balance and fairness at all times. Once again wishing you all a Happy World Press Freedom Day.–Reginald Chandra – Fiji Live Editor
The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) would like to commend all our journalists in Fiji and the Pacific region for their resilience and tireless round the clock reporting ensuring that our citizens are well informed about COVID19 and taking precautions to protect themselves. Our governments should consider the media as ‘frontline workers’ and accord them protection and safety in their line of work. Apart from personal risks to their health, they are having to deal with misinformation and restrictions that challenge their work daily. PINA salutes all media workers in Fiji and the Pacific for staying true to their calling – reporting without fear or favour – during this very challenging COVID19 times.–Makereta Komai – PINA Coordinator
source: Fijian Media Association World Press Freedom Day 2021 via PINA