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Pacific Media Summit in Tonga to tackle media freedom and use of social media

09 May 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Lisa Lahari-Williams -

Pacific journalists are in Tonga this week for their biennial Pacific Media Summit hosted by the Pacific Island News Association (PINA).

Photo/ PRN.

The digital environment is a key theme for plenary sessions which began today, looking into the impact of fake news on Pacific journalists, threats to media freedom and the safety of reporters, and gender issues.

Manager of PINA Makereta Komai says Pacific journalists who rely too heavily on social media or press release sources are putting the entire profession at risk.

Komai has been managing the regional media secretariat of the Pacific Islands News Association for almost two decades, and says trust in the media is not as high as it used to be.

She says on top of the press release culture, there have been cases of some Pacific newsrooms running fake news through their outlets in the race to break stories.

"The onus is on the managers or the editors of the newsrooms to be pushing these issues to the journalist, to go out there and look for the stories."

Makereta Komai. Photo/ PRN.

Meanwhile, Tongan youth blogger 'Aulola Ake says regional meetings like the summit should help address online bullying and social media attacks on women.

Ake, a Masters in International Development student and active blogger, says it's an ideal space to talk through the abuse and threats targeting Tongan women online.

"Social media has allowed for other people to take away the agency of women by demonising their actions or what it is that they perceive these women to be," she says.

"We need to have media spaces and social media platforms protect women and not make them more vulnerable than they already are."

'Aulola Ake. Photo/ PRN.