Friday, 24 June 2011 8:15 AM

PFF Welcomes Ethics Focus in Vanuatu Media Monitoring Training

PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS- A just-completed ethics and media monitoring workshop in Vanuatu is welcome news for regional media freedom monitoring network the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.

30 participants completed the ethics and media monitoring workshop held this Wednesday in Port Vila. It is a joint effort between the national media association in Vanuatu, MAV, Transparency International, and the International Federation of Journalists Asia-Pacific project for Media, Democracy and Human Rights in the Pacific. As part of its support for in-country workshops aimed at improving journalists awareness of media rights violations, the IFJ also funded leading media trainer Titi Gabi of Papua New Guinea as a resource trainer to the Vanuatu workshop.

"Newsroom codes of ethical practice set guiding principles for journalism standards in any community, and build a strong awareness of the impact of news on public debate," says PFF acting chair Monica Miller, of American Samoa.

"We congratulate our news colleagues and all involved in the Vanuatu training workshop for taking on the issues of media responsibility; and urge all to share existing codes more widely."

The call for increasing awareness of existing media ethics codes comes as serious media ethics breaches continue in Pacific media.

The Solomon's Star daily newspaper gave extensive reportage this month revealing the identity of a woman and her teenage son -- the woman had suffered massive physical abuse and trauma at the hands of her husband, including loss of an eye and forced sex with a dog.

"All the court reportage named the husband, which ensured the identity of the woman and their child has also been made public. Of extreme concern is the fact their child, a teenager, has been robbed of his right to privacy at this time," says Miller.

Other local media outlets including national broadcaster SIBC also named the husband in their radio coverage of the case and the information has been shared widely via social networks for Solomon Islands communities.

In Papua New Guinea, leading daily newspaper The PNG Post Courier featured full frontal nude colour photos of two obese children in its June 16 issue -- images which also gained followings and commentary on social networks.

"Sensitivity to victims of violence and to young children are key clauses of ethical coverage and its important that the editorial front line of our newsrooms is vigilant in that regard," says Miller.

"We encourage all media newsrooms to dust off their ethics codes and apply them. Importantly, we should support public access to complaints procedures," says Miller.

PFF and other regional networks in the founding membership of the umbrella Media Alliance of the Pacific, MAP, endorsed the creation of a regional code of ethics for journalists in May this year.

"Journalism codes of ethics share the same common concerns. A Pacific code makes sense and in terms of monitoring and complaints, could lead to a more effective space for addressing concerns over industry standards," says the PFF chair.--ENDS

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