Vanuatu Media Pioneer: Social Media Source Of Misinformation

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

Vanuatu Daily Post publisher Neil-Jones retires; lauds traditional media

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 22, 2015) – A retiring Vanuatu media pioneer says he believes there will always be a need for mainstream media in the country.

As publisher and editor of Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper for more than 20 years, Marc Neil-Jones has frequently been in the firing line - at various points deported, assaulted and jailed over stories he's published.

However he says media freedom has greatly improved in Vanuatu since the 1990s when he started his newspaper.

But he says the growing influence of social media, opening the way for much misinformed comment and analysis, is now a concern.

"There needs to be some element of control over people who administer these social sites, social pages through Facebook. I mean, the people are based here in Vanuatu and they should be administering it and making sure that there's no highly defamatory and libellous comments coming out on it."

Marc Neil-Jones says there is a tendency by Pacific Island governments, in response to the impact of social media, to take sweeping action against all media in a bid to control information flow.

However he warns against wholesale crackdowns on the media, as hinted at by Vanuatu prime minister Sato Kilman earlier this year.

Mr Neil-Jones says in many instances the public is growing tired of the rubbish that infiltrates social media and will therefore look to mainstream media for more balanced coverage.

He indicates that the Daily Post stable will keep building its digital platform which includes a strong social media presence.

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