Rarotonga, Cook Islands--World Press Freedom Day 2020 brings us back to the heart of journalism, and more than ever, in the age of misinformation and Covid-19 disruption, that heart is ethics. And just as hearts are meaningless without the bodies they inhabit, ethics would be nothing without the individual journalists who power independant news reporting across the Pacific
Today, as the UN Secretary General sits for a world first- to be part of the UNESCO-led online event marking the 2020 World Press Freedom Day, I’m pleased to note the theme itself, set last year when no one had an inkling of what was coming, was all about the test of ethics in action- journalism without fear or favour.
Far too many Pacific journalists know far too well the work of journalism involves being in uncomfortable situations, asking difficult questions, seeking information guarded by those who want it to remain secret. In the time of Covid-19, with the newer challenges around misinformation and the so called ‘infodemic’ our Pacific newsrooms -- like our governments, are under more pressure than ever. Our nations of the Blue Pacific are mostly free of the coronavirus yet devastated by its global impact. Media workers are an essential service at the information front line, but resourcing, safety at work, and recognition of their independence continue to be a challenge.
For WPFD2020, there will be no Pacific media freedom update on the year that was. World Press Freedom Day 2020 is different. It’s time to say ‘thank you’ to all Pacific journalists working to keep life-saving, life-shaping information in the hands of the people.
Thank you for putting news ethics to work, without fear or favor
Thank you for calling it on misinformation, lies and corruption.
Thank you for having each others back, and helping us expose threats to independent journalism.
Thanks for the passion, the struggle and the sacrifice, often unseen and unappreciated by your bosses, your families, and your own selves.
Thanks for all you do to keep Pacific citizens informed and heard by their governments, and each other.
Through all your front-line coverage of the news that matters to our Pacific nations, on WPFD 2020, please stay safe, and take a moment to remember you are appreciated.
As May 3 reminds our Pacific governments of the need to uphold the universal human rights of all Pacific nations to free speech and sharing of ideas, for 2020, we ask all Pacific nations and the agencies they work with to recognise, support, and protect the right of our people to be served by a free media.
To all Pacific media workers across the islands of the region, from Papua New Guinea to the states across Micronesia, to Niue and Tokelau and everywhere you serve.
May each and every one of you be able to take a moment, press pause, and reflect. And receive our thanks for all you do.
Bernadette Carreon is the chair of the Pacific Freedom Forum