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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 3, 1999 - PACNEWS)---World Media Freedom Day is being celebrated across the Pacific today with a unified theme "Media Freedom is Your Right".

In the Fiji capital, Suva, the day was celebrated with journalists from the region taking part in reading Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 19 reads, "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedoms to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".

Solomon Islands Broadcasting journalist, Dorothy Hatigeva and French-speaking Vanuatu journalist, Jean Baptiste, read out excerpts from the declaration and the messages from the United Nations on Media Freedom.

The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) also organized two regional workshops on training women in the media, and writing and editing for television news, to coincide with the media freedom day celebrations.

PINA President, William Parkinson said it was time the media educated society on the importance of media freedom.

Parkinson said media freedom is a fundamental human right for every individual in society, and without it there is a social vacuum that needs to be filled. He said in Fiji’s case, where the media is constantly under scrutiny from the Government and politicians, there is a need to show sensitivity to issues raised.

Parkinson said training is an important component of an accountable media outlet. He admitted that a large amount of money had been wasted in the Pacific region on media training and it was time that donors see changes in the product put out by journalists.

"The media themselves should realize that freedom is never absolute. Along with freedom comes a responsibility and a level of accountability not to Governments or political leaders but to the societies in which we live. To retain our freedom we must work to provide our communities with media organisations which are committed to the highest standards of ethical journalism," Parkinson said.

Deputy Secretary-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Dr. Jimmy Rogers also addressed the celebrations. He said there have been dramatic improvements in the standard of journalism in the region.

Dr. Rogers said journalists have become responsible in the way they report on issues. However, he believes there needs to be more regional co-operation in training journalists on regional issues.


PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 3,1999 - Radio Australia)---Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate says foreign media companies operating in PNG should do more to assist development of journalism.

Radio Australia correspondent Richard Dinnen reports the Prime Minister was speaking at a function to mark World Media Freedom Day.

"Prime Minister Skate said foreign media companies are welcome in Papua New Guinea, but he says they should not be here just to make a profit.

He singled out Australia's Nine Television network, which operates Papua New Guinea's TV station, EM-TV.

Mr. Skate called on Nine to put more resources into training and development of journalists and broadcasters.

The Prime Minister says the right to media freedom is enshrined in the Papua New Guinea Constitution and is respected by his Government.

But, he urged the PNG media to be more accurate in its reporting, and called on the foreign media, particularly in Australia, for a fair go, and less sensational reporting of news from Papua New Guinea.



SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 3,1999 - PACNEWS)---Media ownership and free expression in Fiji and Papua New Guinea are featured in the latest edition of Pacific Journalism Review, launched in the Fiji capital, Suva today to mark World Media Freedom Day.

Dr. Ian Ward, Deputy Director of the Center for Democracy at the University of Queensland launched the 153-page journal.

The Pacific Journalism Review journal is the first to be published in Fiji and carries several articles debating the issue of the Daily Post takeover, so close to Fiji’s general election next week.

Views include critics of the sale such as Fiji Times columnist, Sir Vijay Singh, academic Ingrid Leary and a media lawyer, Richard Naidu, a former journalist, who acts for the editors of the of the paper defending the purchase.

It also reports on media gags (now lifted) imposed by French Polynesian authorities on the independent news and culture magazine Tahiti-Pacificque and pro-independence radio station Te Reo o Tefana.

Research articles and industry documents examine television policy in both Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

The journal is edited by USP’s journalism coordinator David Robie. UNESCO assisted in the publication of Pacific Journalism Review.

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