Compliment mainstream media

Editorial

THE media’s job in maintaining equilibrium between truth and public perception and in ensuring always to remain just and objective cannot be overstated.
For certain people including politicians, public perception is almost everything and heavily dependent on portrayal by the media.
Papua New Guinea’s mainstream media has today taken on an undeclared competitor.
In an ideal scenario, the social media, via internet applications and the multitude of local blogs should necessarily complement the traditional media.
Where mainstream newspapers, radio and television are inhibited by situations such as geographical location or censorship and commercial considerations, social media could and should be the available option. However, recent developments have given rise to criticisms against the abuse of social media in spreading defamatory information, lies and half-truths.
Where such abuse results in defaming other individuals and public office holders, it should be of concern.
What’s worse, the perpetrators of such abuse sometimes remain anonymous or hide behind pen names of pseudonyms.
Parliament has passed the Cybercrime Code Act, which applies to defamation, cyber security, spam, hacking, forgery and computer fraud.
The intent is not to control the media but there should be some proper mechanisms in place to ensure people have to be responsible when they are using social media to attack others. We agree that every Papua New Guinean has the qualified right to broadcast or publish and to partake in a public assembly.
However, that comes with responsibility as well which is lacking at the moment.
Keeping tabs on social media is necessary yet at the same time, we in the mainstream media might want to do some soul-searching as well.
Some common questions being asked about the roles of these two strands of media include:
Is the social media venturing into a grey area where the mainstream media is expected to but is either failing or being restricted by the laws on libel and defamation?
Are the country’s newspapers, television and radio stations not doing enough for some of their readers who would rather educate themselves by using the freedom provided by the social media?
Social media is a vital source of information and education.
Used correctly and with proper control mechanisms, it can result in positive development for the individual as well as the community at large.
The public might want to ask whether to take social media seriously as a source of information and education.
Some say readers don’t seem to really care about what organisation they’re getting their news from, or what device format they’re reading on; what matters, really, is the news itself.
Elsewhere in the world, governments and non-governmental organisations have successfully used social media to transmit vital knowledge for social and economic development.
Unfortunately, social media in PNG has been thriving on conspiracy theories and is being used by people to vent their hatred and malice towards others.
There is, however, reason to believe that we need some monitoring mechanism now to avoid serious issues later.
Someone has to take on the responsibility of telling the truth about public issues and controversies and that is the mainstream media’s role to extract truth from public officials.

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