Thursday, 24 March 2011

Editorial ethics breached in Vanuatu tragedy

PFF, Rarotonga, Cook Islands -- The front page publication of the image of a dead child photographed where he died is a clear breach of media ethics in Vanuatu and must remind Pacific newsrooms to balance news journalism with decency in reporting, says regional media freedom watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum.
The call to uphold established media codes which govern news journalism comes after the front-page publication of a full colour photo of a dead child, by the Vanuatu Times newspaper in its Saturday 18 March issue (number 74). The Times article highlighted the fact that the child, referred to only by the name Kaloran, died in an unsecured timber yard premises, and that relatives were seeking a claim for compensation.
"The codes of ethics developed by the Media Assosiasen Blong Vanuatu commit to special considerations for coverage of children, and for decency and sensitivity to govern decisions to publish images of the dead. We urge all practitioners in Vanuatu to uphold the ethics they have developed, and for the Times to make its apology to Kaloran's family and readers clear and immediate," says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea of Papua New Guinea.
"The Vanuatu Times is led by senior members of the Vanuatu media and includes regional media leadership in the form of PINA President Moses Stevens on its editorial team. We welcome confirmation from the President that publication of the image was a breach of ethics." says Laumaea.
"There is a line between sensitive reporting to the issue of preventable deaths, and gratuitous coverage which goes beyond the bounds of decency in any society," says PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa, "It takes a standard of maturity and courage by newsrooms to admit when the
lines have been blurred, and we encourage MAV to ensure its code of ethics is widely accessible in Vanuatu newsrooms to help editors and journalists stand by the excellent codes they've initiated."--ENDS

CONTACT: PFF interim Chair Susuve Laumaea | Sunday Chronicle Newspaper | Papua New Guinea Mobile: 675-684 5168 | Office: 675-321-7040 | Email: susuve.laumaea@interoil.com PFF interim co-Chair Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: monica@khjradio.com The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.

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