ADVERSE MEDIA CAN DESTROY ECONOMY

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

March 31, 2001

The Editor Pacific Island Report

Dear Sir/Madam:

When addressing the Australasian and South West Pacific Commissioners' Conference held last week in Madang, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary's Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Mr. Sam Inguba, is reported to have said that adverse media publicity about a country affected by civil unrest can destroy its economy and international image. He went on to claim that "more often the issues are exaggerated, misconstrued or blown out of proportion by the local and international media."

(See Adverse Media Can Destroy Economy, Pacific Police Chiefs Hear at http://pidp.ewc.hawaii.edu/pireport/2001/March/03-30-18.htm.) 

Although Deputy Commissioner Inguba was speaking in the context of the policing issues faced as a result of the PNG Sandline Crisis, I fully endorse his comments in respect of irresponsible reporting by certain journalists representing the international media and who regularly comment on Pacific affairs.

Grossly inaccurate and false reports during the latter part of 1998 and early 1999 by regionally based journalists aggravated the situation in the Solomon Islands to the extent where the maintenance of law and order and effective policing was greatly hampered by orchestrated lies.

Generally, I have found the members of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) committed to honest reporting and ethical standards of journalism, but the same cannot be said for those who, seemingly, set out to damage the interests of countries like the Solomon Islands.

From what I know of our Pacific police services, they have accepted the need for transparency and accountability, but what about the accountability and responsibility of those few journalists guilty of past abuse? Surely all journalists should promote the truth and help reinforce, and not undermine, the genuine efforts of those charged with the onerous responsibility for enforcing law and order.

Yours faithfully

Frank Short, CBE

c.c. Commissioner of Police        Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary        Police HQ        KONEDOBU, PNG

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