The Local Governance Strengthening Project held its first session of a two-day governance clinic for emerging press on Friday, August 14, aimed at training young media professionals on the relationship between government and media.

The Project constitutes a joint partnership among the United Nations Development Program, the Bureau of Domestic Affairs, the Ministry of State, and the Palau Media Council. The clinic, held at Palasia Hotel, included talks by representatives from all of these, targeted towards young journalists and media professionals.

Radio owner Salvador Tellames opened the meeting with a story about a local government function he once attended, during which he was asked to leave and his notebook was torn. The experience, he said, made him reflect on the relationship between the government and media, and how important mutual respect is in this relationship.

Director Eunice Akiwo of the Bureau of Domestic Affairs followed this up by explaining the importance of empowering local government and the media in Palau, as well as healthy collaboration between the two. “All the most important community assets belong to the local government: land, air, ocean, water,” she said. “And the media is the vessel that brings messages to the community. Having a strong local government and a strong media are both essential in our society.”

Ensuing talks centered on traditional forms of government in Palau, the reconciliation between Palauan cultural ideals and democratic ideals, and the sensitivity to these ideas which media professionals must keep in mind as they deliver news to the community. Speakers also discussed the importance of transparency and accountability in the government and society, and of improving the quality of life for people.

“The BDA hopes the workshop is a beginning of long- term partnership with private sector media to explore how emerging press can be part of decision-making,” Director Akiwo said, “to encourage positive changes and explore how Ngerel Belau can contribute to incubating that emerging interest”.

The second and final session is set to be held on August 25 at West Hotel. 

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