COMMENT: By Scott Waide, in an open letter posted on his blog after he was reinstated by EMTV today following suspension for broadcasting an APEC news item on November 17 criticising wasteful government spending.
Over the last 48 hours, I have been very humbled by the incredible support my family and I have received from people both here in Papua New Guinea and abroad. Support also came from friends in the media, academia, law enforcement, the military and many other circles, too many to name.
I have since been reinstated to my job as deputy regional head of news at EMTV.
I wish to thank our media friends here and overseas, especially. Thank you for your support and your words of encouragement. Thank you to my immediate and extended family and to the strangers who offered support and words of encouragement in Port Moresby, Lae and remote parts of PNG.
My news teams both in Port Moresby, Lae, Kokopo, Madang and Mt Hagen demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and maturity by remaining away from everything that has happened.
I am proud to lead this team of young journalists, camera operators and support staff.
A great many thanks also to management of EMTV and CEO for working through this very trying time, despite the challenges and pressures. A very special thank you to head of news, Neville Choi, and the powerful Sincha Dimara. (I apologise if I missed out anyone.)
I was suspended on Sunday, 18 November, on the last day of the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) meetings. The reasons for the suspensions are now public knowledge and I do not wish to dwell too much on them.
Essential part of democracy
However, I do wish to make the following points:
- Papua New Guinea is a democracy and the media is free to hold those in authority to account. This means highlighting flaws in policy and making sure mistakes are pointed out and corrected. It is an essential part of our democracy.
- There should NEVER be any interference at the operational level by board members. The media is an institution of democracy and must remain free and independent. It is our constitutional right to report AND be critical.
- Journalists of “state owned” media are NOT government public relations officers, nor are media organisations PR machines.
- EMTV is “state-owned” which means the PEOPLE own this company through their elected government.
- Journalism is an art… and art and creativity cannot operate in an environment of suppression and fear.
Papua New Guinea is at a critical moment of its history with the growth and influence of China, US-China trade tensions and challenges within our own country.
We are a largely rural nation. Many of our people still have no access to basic services.
We will continue to promote critical, proactive and transparent journalism. The people’s voice has to be heard and the media must remain as the conduit and platform for opinions and debate and those who cannot accept it MUST step aside and let progress happen.
– Scott Waide
The Pacific Media Centre’s Asia Pacific Report frequently republishes articles from Scott Waide’s blog My Land, My Country with permission to provide a PNG “voice” on developments.