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Melanesian Institute, INA Workshop, Port Moresby, 13 June 2017




Media as the Art of Communication: Towards a holistic approach to Social Media and its impact on peoples of Papua New Guinea within the local/global Context

Melanesian Institute, INA Workshop, Port Moresby, 13 June 2017
The Director of the Melanesian Institute was invited by the Institute of National Affairs to present a paper on the impact of social media and other media outlets on ordinary Papua New Guineans. More than 40 journalists met to listen to the presenters, and had opportunities for exchanging views with them. The executive director, Mr. Paul Becker, advised that the reason for setting up the workshop was to encourage journalists to do their job and be cautious in their reporting and releasing of information into the public arena. Many speakers were invited: Ms Winifred Kamit (Post Courier), Mr Alexander Rheeney (Media Council of PNG), Ms Freda Kana (Wantok Niuspepa), Ms Alison Anis (Project officer of Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee) Mr. Erik Tlozek (ABC PNG Correspondent), Fr. Geovanne Bustos (Melanesian Institute), Mr Lawrence Stephens (Chairman of PNG Transparency International) – who facilitated the workshop. At the wrap-up of the event, journalists were reminded to follow the code of ethics, and to be fair and accurate.
The Director of MI began his presentation with the following statement: “any work or any idea is shaped by the biographical experience of the one author”.*
He thanked the Institute of National Affairs (INA) for its invitation to offer some personal reflections on the topic “The Complementary Role of Traditional and Social Media on issues of independence, investigative capacity and media responsibility”, laying special emphasis on the framework of the Melanesian Institute as his point of reference. The Director highlighted how the Melanesian Institute, in its work and research at the social and the anthropological levels, achieves a level of independence and impartiality in among the media: “from the local to the universal perspective.”

In the first part of his presentation, “Social Media outlets and Journalism within the diversity of peoples and cultures in a postmodern culture”, the MI’s Director looked for a locus and a context in existing traditional cultures. This is where any journalist faces the challenge of knowing the important elements of Melanesian culture and becoming sufficiently aware of the basic traditional worldview – in an amazing new nation with the icon of the bird of paradise, embracing perhaps 800 different cultures. The local context (the social reality of PNG) is the place – the Director explained – where they as journalists face the challenge of reaching what scholars call a “scientific balance”, of managing to avoid a one-sided interpretation of reality, risking either a slide into one or another form of bias, or the temptation to be “sensational”. That “scientific balance” requires the developing of an objective gaze, an awareness of the realities encountered by people in their existing context of living.** The Director drew attention to the fact that we now live in a highly globalised world, and that this will be shaping our way of thinking as people. We, and journalists too, develop our perspectives

*Prof. Martin Jaggle at a Seminar for doctorate candidates held at the University of Vienna 2012.

**We can suggest what may be forming the “PNG context” by taking into consideration the particular needs of local people in their coping with real life experiences, such as novelty, disaster, crime, sex, conflict, tribal clashes, foreign aid, wantokism, etc. See Cullen, Working with the Media.