The Pacific Freedom Forum, a regional media organization, has questioned the intent behind a letter signed by nine out of ten traditional leaders in Yap state asking the legislature to expel U.S. citizen and Pacific Island Times correspondent Joyce McClure.
In a press release, the PFF says the letter issued by the Council of Pilung, also proposes an alternative strategy for news which implies only the government media can provide credible, true information to the people.
“The document we have seen raises more questions over the agenda behind the signatures, and whoever reads it has to look deeper into the reasons prompting leaders to endorse a document which wants a journalist kicked out of Micronesia simply for doing her job,” says PFF chair Bernadette Carreon of Palau.
“Traditional leaders in the FSM state of Yap have to dish out facts in their signed petitions if they want complaints of fake news and poor journalism to be taken seriously,” she says.
“All citizens, whether they are leaders or not, should know their complaints and feedback to media work is welcome and encouraged,” says PFF co-chair Monica Miller, from American Samoa.
“But there is a global standard. To be able to act, newsrooms require details on dates and specific information about what was reported so journalists are able to correct or see where they have missed the mark.
In this case, we’ve found it disturbing to see no such basis for allegations made by leaders who should know better than to ask their lawmakers to dole out punishment without any evidence, and in the same breath issue media guidelines on how the public can be informed,” says Miller.
Melanesia co-chair Ofani Eremae, from the Solomon Islands, says he hopes legislative leaders will see through the letter and let common sense and the public interest prevail.
“If there is anything worse than fake news, it is the baseless and false accusation of bonafide, independent journalists upholding best news practice. This is little more than an obvious attempt to bully and silence the messenger.”