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PNG dailies' deference eroding public trust, says NGO

May 4, 2020 2:04 pm
The Post Courier, along with The National, is one of the two daily newspapers in PNG. [Source: RNZ]

A report has found that Papua New Guinea’s daily newspapers often displayed a “deference” to the office of prime minister in their stories.

To mark World Press Freedom Day, Transparency International PNG has released a preliminary statement from its forthcoming report on media trends in the country.

Transparency has zeroed in on PNG’s newspapers, saying “most people rely more on print media than social media for their daily dose of current affairs and information”.

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Analysing a period from June 2017 to August 2018, the report looks at the balance of coverage on governance issues in particular.

The two dailies, which dominate the market, were found to have demonstrated overwhelming deference to the Prime Minister at the time, Peter O’Neill.

In general, PNG enjoyed a relatively free media, but civil society noted this had been under threat in recent years.

The NGO said the threats to PNG’s media freedom were most obvious when it came to major national events that required objective reporting in the public interest.

It said recent instances where the ability of media to report had been hampered by other interests, often political, included the 2017 national Election, the 2018 APEC Leaders Summit.

The 2019 political transition, which resulted in James Marape becoming prime minister, and public spending on the national response to COVID-19 were also major events requiring independent journalistic coverage.

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