Pacific media ombudsman aimed at instilling confidence
Aim of having a Pacific media ombudsman to instill confidence in both governments and the public.
The co-ordinator of the online media group Pacific Freedom Forum says one of the aims of having a regional media ombudsman is to instill confidence in both governments and the public.
Pacific Media organisations gathered in Solomon Islands last week for World Press Freedom Day resolved to establish a Pacific Media Ombudsman by the same day next year.
A taskforce has been established to set up a Pacific Media Ombudsman system over the next six months and Jason Brown says that group will approach donors for set-up funding as well as governments in the region for their buy-in.
He told Annell Husband it can be difficult sometimes for Pacific journalists to gain access to the likes of politicians and business operators but trust in the media may encourage them to be more accessible.
BROWN: There has been criticism in the past of media for not being clear and balanced. And what we hope is that by building this mechanism, governments can get extra confidence that their views will be reported clearly, if not fully. Obviously, there's time and space constraints.
HUSBAND: And at the same time, make sure that media are operating correctly and, as you say, if there are any complaints from the public or governments or what-have-you that there's a forum for them to be addressed?
BROWN: Yes. Because there have been media councils established across some Pacific states, but not always with success. I know we tried very hard in the Cook Islands to set up a media council and did succeed in getting people on to it. But it was actively sabotaged by the government of the day a few years back. And by raising it to the regional level we hope to get away from that kind of state-level interference.
HUSBAND: OK. That leads on to my next question, which was going to be how much clout will it actually have?
BROWN: Well, I guess the clout is limited to its public profile and how widely its decisions get reported, including by the media organisations who might be involved in their rulings.
HUSBAND: Is there any thought at this stage to the sort of person who might qualify for the position?
BROWN: There is some support for the idea that it should be someone from a legal background, which is, as I understand it, common in this part of the world. Although there was a report brought out by one of the European Union human rights bodies and they expressly advise against having someone of a legal background, that it's supposed to be a common-sense process where their priority is press ethics, not defamation laws.
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