“There is a cost to corruption,” said media trainer John Hyde who is conducting Investigative Reporting Workshop for Palau media this week.
Discussing why media needs to report on corruption and learning the tools and resources needed for reporting were some of the subjects covered by the training program made possible through the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) project which has provided training to investigative and corruption reporting journalists throughout the Pacific.
“Journalists have a huge privilege and responsibility to hold their governments and leaders to account, so journalists must make sure they do it fairly so as the public has confidence in what is being reported,” said Mr Hyde, who is a former Australian MP, journalist, and media trainer.
“Palau journalists already have a super-power – Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution, says bona fide reporters may not be required to divulge information obtained in the course of a professional investigation to the government,” said Mr. Hyde.
“That’s a right that Australian journalists and many others around the world don’t have, so perhaps journalists here have to examine if they are encouraging whistleblowers enough to reveal corrupt practices.”
Mr. Hyde highlighted that in the age of social media and fake news, the role of media as a fact-checker remained critical but said time and resources are needed to investigate matters properly.
“In Palau, the media is a very important stakeholder in making people aware of ethical behavior and of making sure that all the systems and instruments for integrity in Palau are fit for purpose.
“The Constitutional protection of journalists plus whistleblower protection for Palau citizens going to the Public Auditor are signs of a healthy society but the media has to keep pushing the boundaries.
“It’s very tough for journalists in the Pacific – in our small communities you are often called upon to report about relatives and friends. It’s easy to report about your relatives getting awards or catching a big fish – but if you are an ethical journalist you also have to make sure that wrongdoings are exposed.”
Mr. Hyde was a journalist on The West Australian newspaper in Perth and also The Scotsman, in Edinburgh, Scotland. As a parliamentarian in Western Australia, he helped draft legislation to establish the Western Australia Corruption and Crime Commission and served as chair of the parliamentary oversight committee of the CCC.