Being an agitator can come at a high cost. In many instances, society may not be ready for the solutions the media provides. The media itself may not be ready
| My Land, My Country
LAE - It has been a hectic three months working around the clock running pre-election workshops for journalists in all four regions through the media development initiative of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The most important part of the training for many of those journalists who attended has been the discussion around the role of the media in Papua New Guinea.
It is an important question to address with cross-sections of society to raise awareness and understanding of the integral role of the media in a democracy.
The role of the media as a guardian of democracy comes to the fore when people go to the polls.
The media is expected to hold leaders and potential leaders to account, and ensure that democratic systems and processes are protected.
This should be a daily function of the media, whether it’s election time or not.
The media is a guardian of the Constitution as is the legislature, the judiciary, the executive, civil society and citizens.
That role is to ensure that legislators behave within the confines of ethical conduct and that the people’s rights under the constitution are protected.
The media’s role is also to be a voice. It must be able to articulate the people’s desires and aspirations.
It needs to ensure that free expression is guarded against abuse by governments, whether domestic or foreign.
It must also ensure that marginalised communities are heard and adequately represented in public forums.
The media is a conduit - a bearer of good and bad news, a messenger, the telephone wire between people and their government and vice versa.
The conduit ensures that voices are heard and that important information is passed on accurately and in a timely way to the masses.
This is such an important function in a country like Papua New Guinea where millions of people live in rural areas.
I like to take people back to those years when the National Broadcasting Commission (established in 1973) informed and educated people on the transition towards political independence in 1975.
People turned to the media as an educator and informer. Radio was (and still is) an educator, a voice a conduit and a guardian of the fledgling democracy.
Radio was used as an integral part of early education in all primary schools, in political education and the indoctrination of the concept of self-reliance.
As an agitator, the media is supposed to ensure that our society is vibrant and alive.
This means media must drive the debate and introduce solutions and new ideas with the goal of constant evolution and self-improvement.
It must challenge the ills of society and question decisions that are not in the best interests of people and country.
Being an agitator can come at a high cost. In many instances, society may not be ready for the solutions the media provides. The media itself may not be ready.
Governments who hold on to power will try to clamp down on agitators who encourage people to recognise that the rights of protest and of free expression are enshrined in the Constitution.