Independence and the role of the Media

THE role of media in society is very crucial.

Media is an important pillar of our democracy.

It holds government officials, public figures as well as organisations and corporations accountable.

To maintain that standard, it must not only be free and independent but be seen to be free and independent.

It is the role of the media to highlight achievements and development aspirations of the nation.

The media has three main objectives – inform, educate and entertain.

The people have the right to know about what is happening around them.

Comparatively, Solomon Islands media is freer than most in terms of accessing information.

Recently, the media in Solomon Islands has come under heavy criticisms.

Many accused the media of misleading the public, causing political instability.

But is it the media that is responsible for causing instability? The media merely reports it.

Recognising the need for the independence of the media and freedom of expression, Prime Minister Ricky Houenipwela took the admirable step in relinquishing his position as Patron of the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI), the body that looks after the affairs of the media in the country.

More of his exemplary action should be followed.

In a report by the Solomon Islands Media Assistance Scheme (SOLMAS) in 2012, the independence of media was highlighted with some citing an independent media as one that is empowered to question authority take an analytical stance and critique information rather than simply provide an outlet for information.

In light of all this we must remember that media cannot work independently nor run its own show.

There are still no laws safeguarding and protecting the rights of journalists and media practitioners in the country.

They work under trying conditions, particularly in getting information.

Government drives the environment in which the media operates.

Thus media in order for media practitioners, companies and journalists to carry out their work effectively, they must be protected by law.

Like all other industries, the media industry needs laws and regulations that will safeguard and promote their interests and wellbeing. In this regard, it is hoped that patronage is the only thing our Prime Minister has removed himself from no more.

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