Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why arent PNG Journalists confrontational?

Why aren’t Journalists in PNG confrontational? I am affirming that ‘confrontational’ here means to ‘stand up’ or ‘speak out’ and ask the hard questions to those who are responsible for the masses in terms of health, education, welfare, ICT etc.  While there may be a variety of reasons and some people will have even more stronger, valid points than I may make here, in my opinion, I believe that the ability of a journalist to be ‘confrontational’ is hampered by news media organizations in the country who employ journalists.

1. Lack of support by news organisations -  I am of the belief that we as journalists in PNG have very little to be confrontational about since we have not shown that we are prepared for hard work. When was the last time, a news organisation put effort, resources and sought professional and technical advice to investigate a story? When have we seen a step by step investigative story uncovering facts and intelligent writing? The story of budget cuts and not enough resources have been excuses that impede us as journalist to take longer, deeper meaningful research into an issue. Entertainment news has taken over the issue based news because it is easier to write and takes much less time to produce. How often do we see a follow up of a story six months after an event happened? We never got to hear what happened to the outbreak of Cholera in remote area of Morobe Province six months later after everyone closed up and went away. Then we had a similar outbreak in NCD some months later. Which news organisation wants to send a reporter to visit this remote part of Morobe, then ask the hard questions to WHO, Morobe Provincial Government and minister for Health, study the epidemiology of Cholera, trace the origins of Cholera in PNG, find the associations between susceptibility and transmission? All this finding and exploring takes time and financial resources – something news organisations profess not to have. Iam of the opinion that if news organisations or journalists are to be foundations of the fourth estate, then time and financial resources must be devoted to investigate stories and seek to uncover facts and figures that influence issues. News organisations must be prepared to fund journalists to travel, do research and help write intelligently and produce news stories.

2. Keeping journalists in news media. - Iam also of the belief that journalists who possess the passion and the drive to take on investigative journalism, are not being rewarded or justifiably commensurated financially by news organisations. This, I believe is not only found in PNG but evident throughout the Pacific.  Many who start off in the field of journalism as general news reporters, who then take specialist fields such as business, HIV/AIDS, politics, agriculture, mining, carbon fuels, information technology, sports etc don’t usually stay in that news area for long. This is because as they become more experienced, more knowledgeable of the subject area and write accurately, they are more often than not, subject to be coaxed into leaving the news organizations for ‘greener pastures’. This mostly include higher salary, housing, travel, allowances and better working hours, all of which better than those provided by media organizations. They then become public relations officers, community media officers or even journalists in that organisation. Thus, this migration leaves a gap in news organisations that cannot be easily filled. Gone are the person’s valuable experiences, advisory roles, leadership, news values, contacts, etc, things which cannot be easily replaced.  How is that related to a journalist be confrontational? For a journalist to be confrontational, he/she needs good advisors to guide the research, people who can be mentors, people who have experiences over decades, people who can sniff out a rat or see a problem a mile away - the kind of skills are not easily given but gained over the years.  As they leave, they also take their reputation, skills and credibility and leave the news organisation having very little to write or produce investigative stories. It is about time news media organisations pay journalists what they deserve and keep them on the job for longer periods.
Em tasol!

1 comment:

Bernard Sinai said...

How about media organisations being biased and politically aligned?