Access to reliable, transparent Information important for democracy

Journalists are responsible to obtain this information and inform the public. Well informed public are empowered to make correct decisions about their lives.
03 May 2019 15:47
Access to reliable, transparent Information important for democracy


As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day in Fiji, it is appropriate that we focus on the words of António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General.

He says “no democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.”

While he may be referring to national leaders I would like to extend it to include leaders at all levels of our society.

All leaders in Government, Opposition, private sector, faith organisations cultural and traditional communities are required to practise what they preach.

The principles of transparency and accountability apply to all not just those in Government. It is hypocrisy when some criticize others for issues that they themselves  struggle to handle. Sometimes the media are unfairly targeted as scapegoats when things get a bit uncomfortable.

Some leaders choose not to talk to the media. But they are quick to criticise the media when things do not go their way.

The worst thing a leader could do is to try to avoid the media.

Mr Guterress also talks about transparent and reliable information. Smart leaders develop an amicable working relationship with the media. They ensure that the public is fully informed.

The relationship is based on truth and trust. It means when things go wrong, the leaders do not  hide them. They admit the problems, say they are rectifying them and move forward.

The leaders are not only those in Government but in the private sector also and at all levels of our society.

One of the biggest challenges for the mainstream media in Fiji is dealing with the increasing problem of fake news in social media. The mainstream media carry an important responsibility to ensure that the public are told the truth. As such all people in leadership positions should always expect public scrutiny.

That is why the media, regarded as the fourth estate, is referred to as the public watchdog.

On this World Press Freedom Day it is an opportunity to:

  • celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  • assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  • defend the media from attacks on their independence;
  • and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Media freedom is associated with creating the environment for journalists to be able to do their jobs without fear of intimidation.

That will enable them to fully inform the public of issues that affect their lives and help strengthen our democracy. In Fiji, journalists are fortunate because they enjoy this media freedom.


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