FRIDAY May 4th is Media Freedom Day in Papua New Guinea and Divine Word University in Madang is all set for the day.
But why is media freedom so important?
Throughout history individuals and groups of people have been struggling to keep or take back their freedoms. Many of these freedoms were lost under oppression by an economic system that cares less about freedom and humanity.
Media freedom is about protecting the the rights of media to tell the truth about this economic system that is hurting the masses across the world. It is the gatekeeper of all other freedoms.
UNESCO’s Adviser for Communication and Information Programme in Asia, Susanne Ornager, says from Bangkok: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental right stated by UNESCO and a right which all people in the world should treasure.” Yet every year journalists are being attacked, harassed, forced to shut up, denied publication of their reports or even murdered as they strive to tell of the injustices around the world. Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island journalists have also come face to face with the gun.
But the need to know is there and some people have to do the job of finding out and telling without fear or favour.
For every year since 1999, the Divine Word University’s Communication Arts Department has been observing Media Freedom Day. This year they’re witnessing how social media and the internet is making space for free speech and expression, and how a street vendor (Martyn Namorong, a keynote speaker) is using internet to help change the development debate in Papua New Guinea.