A veteran Solomon Islands journalist says the country’s media industry is vibrant and amongst the most independent in the region.
Robert Iroga, founder and publisher of Solomons Business Magazine recently told journalism students at the University of the South Pacific that: “Media serves as a beacon of democracy in the Solomon Islands amidst all our challenges.
“People come to the press to express a lot of issues, and through the raising of these issues, we can be able to amplify that to the leaders to address them.”
But he notes that misinformation can have a significant impact on social media users in the country, and that pick up of news on social media channels is increasing, although data costs in Solomon Islands are high.
In Fiji, a weekly data subscription costs $8 for 20GB. Solomon Islanders meanwhile, pay $30 per week for 3GB.
“It’s very expensive,” Iroga says. “The other way you can look at this is that those who run the (social media) platforms, we don’t make a lot of money, because people can only read it for free.”
Iroga’s company partners with local business to create content and get its news product in front of new readers.
He concedes that social media is affecting the way established media are covering news.
“They (provide) good tips for news, but in reality, people will still go back to traditional media,” he says. “Most of the issues that we see on social media are actually taken from mainstream media. We can’t deal with social media but we can also acknowledge them for amplifying our issues to a wider audience.”