PNG’s standard of journalism as practiced by our national newspapers has been on serious decline for at least the last 10 years
Probably their lowest point came in 2012 during the national election campaign when both newspapers investigated nothing and ran press releases by competing candidates that only created confusion.
This was pathetic and showed how sadly things had sunk since the heyday of PNG journalism in the 1980s and 1990s, the inspiring journalism program at UPNG headed by David Robie and the editorial leadership of Oseah Philemon at the Post-Courier.
The concept of investigative journalism today has become nothing but a dream at the two newspapers.
The result has been a serious decline in the truthfulness of newspaper content in PNG. Only for the most important, national interest issues is there any attempt these days to carry out investigative journalism or present both sides of a story.
Everything else is nothing more than some or now rewording of press releases received by lazy reporters. PNG newspapers are not a source of information or truth, but sources of competing propaganda.
It also appears that the mainstream media generally ignores what is reported on the social media and takes no interest in presenting both sides of any story.
Because of this situation, the government has mostly controlled the messages the newspapers have published about the Unitech saga.
The students’ underlying theme - that this has been a struggle for truth and justice and a fight against corruption - has never come out clearly in either newspaper, which is why the newspapers have never been able to get out of the rut of complaining about boycotts and how the students’ schooling will be affected.
It is very clear that reporters never bothered to talk to student leaders and get their perspective before they published the government’s propaganda.
Worse, with rare exceptions the students themselves are not writing letters to either newspaper and thus don’t even seem to try to control the story line. Does the student movement has anyone who is doing public relations with the newspapers?
Now the newspapers are attacking the SRC president himself as being selfish, etc. Again, they seem to overlook what the purpose of the student movement is. Is it selfish to fight to reverse the 30 year decline in our universities, or to fight the corruption and mismanagement that has led to today’s decrepit institutions?
The students have become well aware of the journalistic bias against them and many are now furious at the newspapers, particularly The National. Last week The National reported that its staff was chased away when they tried to enter the university.
This student anger is creating motivation within the students to show the country and the world that they mean business. And thus we have seen the multi-province awareness effort and, overall, an increase in the volume of the protest in recent days. Stories about Unitech are now a daily event in both newspapers.
Injustice takes many forms, including inaccurate reporting and plain old misinformation. The more cases of injustice they see, hopefully the greater will be the student persistence.