PNG journalists reportedly demoted after critical coverage

Three senior journalists at PNG government-run radio and television stations have been demoted following critical coverage of the takeover of Ok Tedi mine and payments to a lawyer at the centre of corruption allegations, the Post Courier reports.

Michael Asagoni, Radio News Editor, and Dick Sorariba and Mulai Robby, executive producers of Kundu 2, have been sidelined and told to resume duties in the National Broadcasting Corporation’s archive section. Respected senior journalists Jerry Ginua and Wesley Manuai have also reportedly been summoned and questioned.

The reporters have been accused of biased reporting against the government.

This worrying encroachment on press freedom comes amid wider shakeups for the media industry in PNG. Last week, Australian Associated Press (AAP) newswire announced that they would be closing their Port Moresby bureau after 60 years. While AAP has stated that it will use in-country freelancers and will have staff on standby to enter PNG if big stories break, the move to ‘parachute journalism’ has attracted criticism from media watchers, who are concerned about the impact on credible reporting and understanding of PNG in Australia.

The PNG government is also reported to be poised to shake up the ownership of the country’s media by introducing a new law restricting foreign ownership in the media. The change would affect organisations such as EMTV, The National, Post Courier and several radio stations.

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Ashlee Betteridge

Ashlee Betteridge was the Manager of the Development Policy Centre until April 2021. She was previously a Research Officer at the centre from 2013-2017. A former journalist, she holds a Master of Public Policy (Development Policy) from ANU and has development experience in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. She now has her own consultancy, Better Things Consulting, and works across several large projects with managing contractors.

1 Comment

  • I have been silently following the latest political development of our once beautiful democratic country. Over the years people, especially ordinary citizens, have been freely exercising their rights, including freedom of speech and expression without fear, favor or intimation. Now it seems that the current government is shifting its gear towards a communist style regime with the application of elements of dictatorship and threat. The high offices in PNG such as Police Departments, Ombudsman Commission, Attorney General Office etc that expose the corruption and deals by people in authority are now silent. What has happened? Are they been manipulated, dictated to over the years or even rewarded with wealth and positions? Where is the freedom of media in PNG to report issues affecting this nation freely without fear or favor? I hope the creation of Kumuls 1, 2 & 3 and transferring the function of IPBC and now the taking over of PNGSDP is done to serve the vast majority of people and not with other hidden agendas.

    I see on one hand current government is doing good in promoting service delivery to the door steps of our people thus, focusing on decentralizing its functions from Waigani to districts and provinces with greater financial powers. On the other, the government seems to be power hungry thus by extending grace period, continues changing of some sections of the constitutions, introducing of death penalty, practicing of dictatorship etc… where will we go from now???

    Pitz Nox

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