Open letter by the Press Club of Tahiti (Tahiti journalists' association) – Te taatira no te mau papa'i ve'a

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Club de la presse Tahiti - Te taatira no te mau papa'i ve'a Association loi de 1901 Pape‘ete, French Polynesia

February 1, 2015

Recently formed, the Press Club of Tahiti aims to represent journalists from all media in French Polynesia.

Today here is our question:

Are French Polynesians entitled to a free press?

We think they are.

Yet today, some media have much less freedom than others, to the point where many local journalists worry about the quality of the information they deliver. Pressure, censorship, threats: that's everyday life in some of the most influential media outlets.

For journalists who cover "sensitive" stories, it translates into warnings, undue sanctions and forbidden stories. Reports are censored under pressure from politicians or advertisers. For their too-honest stories, journalists are sidelined, sanctioned without explanation and even fired.

Why such a climate ?

One daily newspaper, Les Nouvelles de Tahiti, has already closed this year. No one is fooled as to the real cause of that shutdown: the paper's outspokenness and its investigative reporting displeased many. Today no trace of the paper remains, not even an Internet archive.

But we know that if we do not produce accurate information, thorough and free, the same fate awaits other media, because we will lose your trust and your loyalty. We do not work to serve our personal interests, settle scores or denigrate public figures. We work to deliver the information you deserve.

According to the Professional Journalist Ethical Charter (2011), "The public's right to quality, complete, free, independent and pluralistic information, stated in the Declaration of Human Rights and in the French constitution, guides the journalist in the pursuit of his mission. This responsibility to the citizen takes precedence over all others."

We therefore ask the various public authorities to pronounce themselves, firmly and publicly, in favor of freedom of the press. We ask them to condemn publicly the infringements on that freedom when they occur.

Everyone will benefit in the long run.

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