MAJOR MEDIA CONFERENCE ADOPTS MADANG DECLARATION EMBRACING PACIFIC CHILDREN

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MADANG, Papua New Guinea (October 20, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---The region's main news media organization has adopted a major declaration embracing issues such as media freedom -- and the rights of Pacific Islands children.

Radio, TV, print and online news media executives and senior journalists attending the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) convention unanimously adopted what is known as The Madang Declaration.

It came after a hectic four days of discussion centered on The Media and the Pacific Child, featuring a lineup of international, regional and Papua New Guinea experts.

The "Madang Declaration" reads:

"Members of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) from 22 countries and territories have gathered in Madang, Papua New Guinea, for our bi-annual conference where we have chosen 'Media and the Pacific Child' as our theme.

"We recall that just over a decade ago the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, when an unprecedented number of Heads of State at the World Summit for Children made a solemn promise to protect and promote the survival, development, and participatory rights of every child in the world.

"However, we recognize that many children have been left with broken promises despite good intentions, and that some continue to be victims of inaction, late action and violence by the adults they look to for protection, care and love.

"We also note the children of the Pacific are at high risk of missing the opportunities for a better life and are threatened by the scourge of AIDS, especially the increasing incidence of mother to child transmission of HIV in the Pacific.

"We acknowledge all children deserve protection and the fullest opportunities in life and are confident PINA can play a singularly important and effective role in encouraging the best practices by governments and all elements of society to achieve these ends.

"We of PINA hereby adopt and declare our commitment:

1. To use our fullest resources, imagination and creativity to further the best interests of the child as our major concern in all media coverage about children.

2. To protect and reinforce media freedom to ensure there is always a fair and open forum for all issues, including those concerning children, their rights and welfare.

3. To remain committed to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the rights of all children to be protected from violence, abuse, injury and preventable diseases, as well as economic and sexual exploitation.

4. To recognize that every child, with special attention to the girl child, has an indisputable right to free expression, education, and equal opportunity to fulfill her or his greatest potential in life.

5. To hold governments and other organizations accountable for good governance, especially in fulfilling their responsibilities to children and when developing national policies and plans for the future.

6. To ensure we have the skills to deal with issues affecting children by networking amongst our members and with regional and global leadership initiatives concerning the welfare and rights of children."

The University of Papua New Guinea's head of law department, Associate Professor Dr. John Luluaki, helped put together the declaration.

The PINA convention was held at the Madang Resort Hotel and Divine Word University in northern Papua New Guinea.

It was hosted and organized by PINA member Papua New Guinea Media Council.

 

CHIEF PNG OMBUDSMAN GENO LAUDS WORK OF THE NEWS MEDIA

MADANG, Papua New Guinea (October 20, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea's Ombudsman Commission relies on the media as a source of information as well as for disclosing results of its investigations, regional news media leaders have been told.

Chief Ombudsman Ila Geno said so in his paper "Survival of the Media is the Survival of the Principals of Democracy'' at the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) convention in Madang, northern Papua New Guinea:

"In many instances, the Ombudsman Commission gets its tip-offs from the media."

He told radio, TV, print and online media executives and senior journalists that the Ombudsman Commission and the media both watch over events and happenings, investigated these matters and reported on them.

"We both fire warnings when something is wrong or might be wrong in order to get remedial action," he said.

"By doing this, in our own way, we try to ensure that corruption does not eat into politics, the bureaucracy and society.

"We try to protect the rights and freedoms that each of us enjoy."

Recently, he said, some Papua New Guinea leaders were referred to the Public Prosecutor and subsequently to leadership tribunals and were dismissed from office due to stories in the media.

"A lot of the investigation that the commission does ends with a referral to the Public Prosecutor and subsequently is resolved by a leadership tribunal," he said.

 

REACH OUT TO CHILDREN, PACIFIC MEDIA URGED

MADANG, Papua New Guinea (October 20, 2001 - The Independent/PINA Nius Online)---The Pacific Islands news media are crucial in helping develop the Pacific Islands child, an Asia-Pacific specialist told news media leaders.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Deputy Regional Director of East Asia Pacific Rodney Hartfield spoke at the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) convention in Madang, northern Papua New Guinea.

He said there is no other area in the world in which UNICEF needs to depend on the media to reach children more than in the Pacific.

He told regional radio, TV, print and online media executives and senior journalists: "The role of the media hardly needs to be emphasized. I think it is only too clear.

"I am also aware that a great deal of experience has already been gained, not least here in our host country, on how we can advocate positively with and for children.

"Overwhelmingly, children are optimistic about the future. For those of us with children, there's nothing surprising I think in any of that, but what an opportunity it presents to us all.

"If we can't change ourselves for the better, should we not at least try to help our children realize their optimism?

"Asking questions is so much easier than providing answers.

"The challenge then is to innovate to create a genuine global movement for children where information is generated, not necessarily by agencies such as UNICEF, although we certainly have a role and responsibility in that, but as a spontaneous recognition of the central importance of children to our future.

"Unless we create an environment that is more tolerant and informed, where people's rights are genuinely respected and where we can start to better understand and appreciate our similarities and our differences, the future does not look bright at all.

"You are foremost among those who can help develop respect, understanding and tolerance and I would suggest that your primary audience may well be children. Only there are we likely to find the optimism, energy and idealism that could bring many of us to a better future."

Mr. Hartfield congratulated PINA and its members and the convention's organizers, the PNG Media Council, for declaring this year's PINA convention theme to be The Media and the Pacific Child.

 

WATCH TOBACCO, PACIFIC MEDIA URGED

MADANG, Papua New Guinea (October 21, 2001 – Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---The World Health Organization has urged Pacific Islands news media to be skeptical interpreters when dealing with information affecting the health and well being of children.

WHO representative Dr. Ruth Stark told the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) convention in Madang they could help protect children by carefully examining information from such industries as tobacco.

Dr. Stark said messages from the tobacco industry should be clearly examined.

"The media should help to determine what are the real messages that they are giving," she said.

She said prevent smoking campaigns stated that smoking was an adult thing to do.

Dr. Stark said young people want to be adults and do adult things, and that the campaigns simply encouraged smoking.

"We need to give young people the clear messages about deadly cigarette smoking," she said.

She told radio, TV, print and online media executives and senior journalists that tobacco was already the biggest cause of premature death worldwide.

"Smoking kills people. Just exposure to tobacco smoke is harmful to children," she said.

She said extensive studies showed that secondhand smoke was responsible for many cases of respiratory illness, infections and asthma attacks.

Dr. Stark said cigarette smoking could be thought of as a disease of children because most people start smoking in their teen years or even at a younger age.

"We know the earlier a person starts smoking, the more damage is done to their health and the harder it is to quit," she said.

Dr. Stark emphasized ways in which the media could make a real difference in the lives of children. "The media can intensify coverage and editorial comments on the many issues affecting child welfare," she said.

She said there was good evidence to show that the more coverage a public issue received, the more concerned the public became about that issue. "The media may not tell the public what to think, but the media do influence what the public thinks about," she said.

Dr. Stark said of all the issues affecting children, health was the most important.

"The ministers of health in the Pacific are finding that this healthy islands approach is working," she said.

The PINA convention had the theme, The Media and the Pacific Child. It was held at the Madang Resort Hotel in northern Papua New Guinea, and nearby Divine Word University.

 

PACIFIC MEDIA TO HELP EAST TIMOR

MADANG, Papua New Guinea (October 21, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---The Pacific's leading news media association is offering help to East Timor's emerging news media, following a request for assistance.

The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) convention in Madang decided to offer East Timorese news media organizations:

PINA members will also consider admitting East Timor into PINA's full membership area when East Timor makes such a request.

Full membership of PINA is currently only open to news organizations and national associations of practitioners based in Pacific Islands countries and territories.

The PINA convention at Madang, northern Papua New Guinea, was addressed by radio editor Fausto de Sousa, representing the Timor Loresae Journalists Association.

He told PINA radio and TV, print and online media executives and senior journalists that East Timor's news media want to have links with PINA. He said they want to strengthen connections with the Pacific Islands.

Mr. de Sousa's participation in the PINA convention was supported by UNESCO. Its Apia-based Regional Communication Adviser for the Pacific States, Tarja Virtanen, is also looking after UNESCO projects in East Timor, including a community radio development program.

Ms. Virtanen was at the PINA convention.

So too was new Papua New Guinea Post-Courier managing director Bob Howarth. Mr. Howarth has been helping newspaper development in East Timor.

Earlier this year PINA administrator Nina Ratulele was invited to help with the first East Timor journalists' conference, held in Dili, the capital. She was invited to speak on how PINA is set up and how it operates.

Fiji Television head of news and programs Richard Broadbridge, the newly elected head of PINA's TV industry group, has now been invited to help with another conference in Dili. This conference will consider the development of television in independent East Timor.

As well, plans are under way for East Timorese to study journalism at Divine Word University, Madang. Divine Word's Communication Arts Department is also a PINA member.

PINA members also resolved to continue to promote contacts between the Anglophone and Francophone news media of the Pacific Islands.

They stressed the need for continuing development of cooperation between media of both the English-speaking and French-speaking Pacific.

The Pape‘ete, French Polynesia-based news agency Tahitipresse is likely to become one of the focal points of this following discussions in Madang.

PINA's outgoing president William Parkinson told delegates a cooperation agreement involving a French government-funded specialist at the intergovernmental Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has not worked.

PINA delegates also unanimously adopted strategies designed by two major workshops held leading into the convention.

These were on Media and Violence: Designing Coverage to Foster Peace, and a UNESCO/PINA Pacmedia workshop developing a strategic plan for new media (online journalism) in the Pacific.

The PINA convention had the theme of The Media and the Pacific Child. It was held at the Madang Resort Hotel, in northern Papua New Guinea, and nearby Divine Word University.

PINA's next convention will be held in Apia, Samoa, in 2003.

For additional reports from The Independent, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Independent (Papua New Guinea).

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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