Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Asia Pacific Report

PNG: Media industry hit by assaults, ethics issues and no leadership

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill … pledges caution over news media, but industry in crisis. Image: Garamut/PMC

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Item: 8141

Following a recent assault on a Post-Courier reporter in Papua New Guinea, a media workers group has spoken out about the “worrying” state of the country’s news sector. Attacks on journalists are on the rise, industry ethics are deteriorating and the Media Council of PNG is completely ineffective, they say. What’s going wrong in the South Pacific’s biggest media industry? An Asia-Pacific Journalism special report by Harry Pearl.

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Centre Online / Pacific Media Watch): Post-Courier reporter Michael Koma in Papua New Guinea was recently savagely assaulted for a news story he wrote questioning the appointment of several district administrators in the Highlands province of Chimbu.

Koma, who is the newspaper’s Kundiawa-based correspondent, says four men confronted him at a relative’s house at about 8am and, after questioning him briefly about the story, repeatedly punched him in the face.

“I received punches to both sides of my jaw, jawbones, which is very painful as I’m talking right now,” Koma told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation just days later.

According to a story which appeared in the Post-Courier the following week, the men were disgruntled supporters of newly appointed administrator, Francis Aiwa, and his deputy, Marcus Warip.

The attack on Koma was not an isolated incident. It is at least the second serious assault on a journalist working in Papua New Guinea this year.

In April, Mark Kayok, a police reporter for the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), suffered a broken nose in a brutal attack by uniformed police officers disgruntled with “negative” reporting about them.

While Papua New Guinea ranks highly on international media freedom indexes, as reported in the Pacific Media Freedom Report 2011 by Pacific Media Watch, some in the country are worried the assaults are signs of a worrying trend.

Papua New Guinean journalist Titi Gabi, who co-chairs a regional media watchdog, Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF), and is a founding member of the PNG Media Workers Association, says the media climate is “deteriorating” in the country.

Threats to journalists, widespread allegations of bribery within publications, and a lack of affective industry regulation are all afflicting the media, she says.

“What used to be a really shining, strong industry, sadly has now cracked all over the place”.

Abridged - read the full report and links here:

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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