Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) President, Georgina Kekea during today’s World Press Freedom Day breakfast function. At the Heritage Park Hotel. Photo credit @ MASI/Facebook

MASI President Gina Kekea expresses gratitude to those championing free and independent media for their dedication, support, and commitment during World Press Freedom Day.

Here is her speech in full:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning to each and every one of you. It is with great pleasure and honor that I stand before you today as we come together to mark World Press Freedom Day.

Allow me to extend a warm welcome to our distinguished guests!

From the British High Commission: High Commissioner Thomas

New Zealand High Commissioner, Schwass, and your staff

Representatives from the US Embassy

Project Manager for BBC Media Action Dipak Bhattari

Transparency Solomon Islands, Madam Ruth

SICCI CEO (ag), Rhibbie

And all our esteemed members of the media across various departments and organizations and my fellow Board Colleagues.

Your presence here today is a testament to the importance we collectively place on the fundamental principles of press freedom and journalistic integrity.

As we gather on this significant occasion, it’s imperative that we take a moment to reflect on the essential role that journalists and media professionals play in our society. They are the unsung heroes who work tirelessly day in and day out to uncover the truth, hold the powerful accountable and give voice to the voiceless. Their unwavering commitment to seeking and reporting the truth, often in the face of adversity, is a cornerstone of any functioning democracy.

Today, we pay tribute to the journalists who, despite facing numerous challenges, remain steadfast in their pursuit of journalistic excellence. We acknowledge their courage, resilience, and unwavering dedication to their profession.

Whether reporting on the frontlines of natural disasters, investigating corruption or shining a light on social injustices, journalists play a vital role in shaping our understanding of the world around us. In Solomon Islands, where conflict zones are absent but challenges like climate change, environmental degradation, and socio-economic disparities persist, the role of journalists becomes even more significant.

They are the voice of the people, bringing to light the issues that affect our communities, our environment and our future. Through their dedication and commitment to truth, they provide us with valuable insights and perspectives, empowering us to make informed decisions and take meaningful action.

It is also essential to recognize the critical role played by public relations officers in facilitating the flow of information between organizations and the media. Your collaboration and partnership with journalists are instrumental in ensuring that accurate and timely information reaches the public. By working together, we can foster greater transparency, accountability, and public trust.

The past years have been a struggle for media organizations, navigating through the events of the 2021 riots, the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 earthquake, and political disruptions. Despite these challenges, our media professionals have demonstrated remarkable resilience and dedication to their craft. Their coverage of events such as the Pacific Games, the joint elections, and the election of the Prime Minister has been exemplary, providing the public with vital information and fostering greater civic engagement.

However, we cannot ignore the challenges and obstacles that our media organizations face on a daily basis. Limited resources, time constraints, and the rapidly changing media landscape present significant challenges to their operations. Many newsrooms operate with skeleton staff, stretched to their limits, yet they persevere, driven by a deep sense of duty and commitment to the public good. The media landscape in the Solomon Islands presents unique challenges. Limited capacity, constrained budgets, and reliance on word-of-mouth communication are just some of the obstacles that journalists and media organizations struggle with on a daily basis.

While international support, such as that provided by the British government through BBC Media Action, is invaluable, more must be done to ensure the sustainability and resilience of local media outlets.

Despite these challenges, the role of journalism in promoting national security cannot be overstated. A free and independent press serves as a defense against misinformation and disinformation, providing citizens with the information they need to make informed decisions. By fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, journalists contribute to the stability and security of our nation.

It’s incumbent upon us, as a society, to support and empower our journalists, to defend their right to report without fear and to uphold the principles of press freedom and freedom of expression. We must strive to create an environment where journalists can work safely and without undue interference, where their contributions are valued and respected.

As we celebrate the achievements of Solomon Islands’ media professionals today, let us also reaffirm our commitment to upholding press freedom and democratic values. Let us pledge to stand in solidarity with journalists around the world who continue to risk their lives in pursuit of the truth. Let us recognize that a free press is not just a cornerstone of democracy but a fundamental human right.

In closing, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all those who champion the cause of a free and independent media. Your dedication, support, and commitment is truly valued.

Thank you tumas


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