World Press Freedom Day 2021, Statement from SG Dame Meg Taylor

Statement of the

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor

on World Press Freedom Day, May 3

For immediate release

 

Today, the 3rd of May, marks three decades commemorating World Press Freedom Day.

World Press Freedom Day gives us a golden opportunity to prioritise access to information, and what Pacific journalism is doing to serve the public interest. This is especially important because the media industry, and the nature of journalism itself, is facing unprecedented challenges.

Our Blue Pacific Continent grapples with major challenges and disruptions and from climate change to COVID-19, we are also witnessing a powerful new change, as more Pacific voices are leading the telling and production of our stories. Our countries have seen first-hand how information can connect Pacific citizens and connect them to life-saving information. From the first months of 2020 right through to the current day, where vaccine hesitancy is a major concern, your role in helping people to make informed choices is critical.

Information as a public good – the theme of World Press Freedom Day this year – is essential to help our Pacific communities to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic and from climate change. Whether you are on television or TikTok, in print or podcasting, we need you in the fight against misinformation, deliberate disinformation and hate speech.

When Pacific Leaders founded the Forum 50 years ago, world news was about the world outside of this region. They knew our people needed to hear their stories told and realities shared. Our stories of sovereignty and the birth of independence. Our stories of stewardship, and the birth of rights over our ocean. And of course, our stories of strength and regional solidarity.

Access to information and media freedom are essential to securing the democratic values and objectives that all our Leaders have committed to through the Biketawa Declaration and the Framework for Pacific Regionalism. It is why the Pacific Islands Forum recognises the relationships we have built and will continue to foster with our Pacific news leaders, emerging news leaders, and others leading access to information across our Blue Pacific Continent.

The climate story and development challenges of the Pacific have required strong partnerships with you, and we will continue that work. In appreciation of the role of independent news media and public service media to democracies and sustainable development, we recognise the powerful role of the media, to inform and shape the Pacific conversations at national, regional, and global level.

As you apply ethics of diversity, inclusion, and balance to your journalism, I hope you can work without fear or favour, in supported workplaces where you are safe and encouraged to thrive. –ENDS

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