The 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the role of journalists whose first rule is to uphold the news creed – to tell the truth without fear or favour, to serve the public interest, to hold power to account, says Henry Puna, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum.
“The primacy and importance of independent reporting and communication of Forum decisions goes back to our beginnings. One of the key decisions in those early years more than five decades ago was the mandate to communicate, recognising the benefits of sharing information about the Leaders’ meetings and decisions.
From the Biketawa Declaration on Good Governance to the Boe Declaration on Regional Security and the Teieniwa Vision on Anti-Corruption, SG Puna notes Pacific Leaders are demonstrating their understanding that independent and free media are part of the work they do.
“Across our key regional Leader meetings, we actively partner with and brief news journalists to ensure quality reporting of the issues shaping our world. We recognise that editorial independence and quality journalism rely on strong access to facts, information, and certainty.
“The watchdog and public interest role of the press as the fourth estate complementing the other three- the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, has never been more important to public accountability, transparency, and good governance. Together, they ensure engaged, active, and informed Pacific citizens. This level of empowerment sets the basis for a Pacific future that is safe, secure, and peaceful.
“The digital age, amidst times of COVID and climate crisis, has also brought a new layer of transformative disruption and opportunity. A free, thriving, and diverse Pacific press is a key partner to our Blue Pacific strategy to 2050.
“Today we can all celebrate the independence and impact of quality news journalism led by news and media practitioners across the Pacific and globally. Despite often harsh work conditions, they continue a calling for a news agenda of truth, transparency, and accountability,” he said in a statement.