BY RODERICK KANAMA
I am not privy to what transpired between the National Reporter in Madang and Hon. Bryan Krammer. What I know is what I’ve read from Hon. Bryan Krammer’s post on FB, and this is not much, except to say that I find the whole thing misguided.
Many of you on FB know I am quite vocal on issues of corruption and that I stand with Hon. Gary Juffa, MP, as Governor of Oro Province and as Leader of Peoples Movement for Change Party. What many of you don’t know is that I am also the Executive Officer for PNG Media Workers Association. This is a non-paid position which I have held since 2010. Thus I am placed in a somewhat privileged position to offer commentary on this issue. The mandate of PNGMWA is to serve the interest of those employed in media and media related vocations and the Association will release a press statement in this regard. However, this commentary I make is from a personal perspective.
I have, for a long time, well before Hon. Bryan Krammer became an MP, argued that media must be free of corruption. My view has never changed. You see, media is first and foremost, a public service performed, for reasons of efficiency, by the private sector. Now I can argue efficiency in many different perspectives including propaganda. Is propaganda corruption? In my opinion, it is if inducements are accepted which prompts proper reporting protocols to be deliberately ignored. This is part of the reason the Media Code of Ethics exists and is administered by the Media Council of PNG. Unfortunately, neither MCPNG nor PNGMWA have legislated powers to hold media personnel and entities to be accountable in this regard. Instead we rely on media personnel and entities to hold themselves out to high standards of integrity as may be demanded by their customers and clients.
Should privately owned commercial media entities promote propaganda? It is not proper and neither PNGMWA nor MCPNG condone it. But it is not against the law unless it encroaches on or invades privacy in which case it is a violation of a private right. That being the case, is it proper to make a public call for boycott on purchasing the daily newspapers? It may seem as not being illegal but my gut feeling is that if the matter goes to Court, the Court will rule in favour of the media entities and purely because as I said, there has been nothing to suggest that there was impropriety by the reporter or the newspaper, at least none that I’m aware of from the post by Hon. Bryan Krammer. If there is, then the Court will rely on that.
Having said that, I’m mindful of the manner in which DSIP/PSIP funds are applied. Although there is a guideline for the application of this grant, there is more or less a roving commission which allows application of funds on activities that are incidental to the core activity or project. this is a very important qualification when it comes to the attack on media as a whole. The feature article that the National Newspaper Reporter is said to have written comes to the fore here. Is there anything that was captured in that article factually incorrect? If there is, did she know it to be factually incorrect at the time the article went to paper? Did that piece of information afflict any stakeholder or party or even the provision of basic service in any way, shape or form? The burden of proof rests in this instance with Hon. Bryan Krammer and I have to say nothing I have read warrants a public call for a ban on purchasing the dailies.
My personal position is that if there is clear-cut evidence of misdemeanor, report the matter and have that person prosecuted. Merely grandstanding on social media and throwing mud on someone is sad because that person has commitments that are taken care of through their job with with the media, in this case with the daily newspapers.
My read of this whole situation is whether public funds should have been used to pay for a feature article on the newspaper. The Reporter did write the feature article and paid accordingly. But should she have been paid from public funds? If you zone in on the real issue, the persons to be questioning would be the former MP for Madang and his administration. If it is however a case of misreporting than of course the Reporter should be made to retract.
We cannot have everything our way. Now we are attacking the dailies for misreporting stories that affect us. We are forgetting that they own the paper and can decide what to report and what not to report. We alienate the media and when what we want reported is not reported, what do we do then? Do we attack the media again? Our fight must be for the right thing to be done.
I don’t see how the sale of papers would be seriously affected from this public call. Papers make bulk of their revenue from advertising. Besides, people buy papers for various reasons so they will continue to buy the papers. But based on what I have stated above, I do not think there is anything that warrants the bashing of the daily papers.
Just my thoughts