Palau Media Council 2021 AGM elects new officers and issues World Press Freedom Day statement.

The Palau Media Council (PMC) urged the government to support free and independent media and ensure transparency and accountability.
In a statement issued to mark World Press Freedom Day yesterday, PMC also called on the government to advocate for a fair playing field through equal access to both public and private media.
“As we celebrate this year’s World Press Freedom Day, with the theme ‘Information as a Public Good,’ the Palau Media Council is calling on the government to champion free and independent media,” the PMC statement said.
The PMC also raised the hardship that the private media faces amid the pandemic because it doesn’t have the financial backing of state-owned media.
“As a group made up of small newsrooms and limited resources, we face losing our jobs or worse, our companies, due to the challenging environment, including the pandemic, beefed-up government media, and a well-funded public communications corporation, leaving independent media outlets behind,” it added.
PMC also noted that members of the private media have a long history of providing vital service to the nation, even expanding its reach outside of Palau, due to its independent reporting.
“Palau Media Council has come a long way in covering and reporting local news; it has also put Palau’s name on the map for its independent reporting,” PMC stated. “Freedom House has ranked Palau’s press freedom consistently in the top tier on its annual ranking. That high ranking is a result of the many independent media outlets operating in the nation.”
The PMC also called on the government to ensure the survival of independent media.
“We urge this administration, including its gatekeepers, to improve collaborative relationships with independent media,” it said. “It’s time for this administration to fulfill its promise of government transparency by supporting free and independent media.”
In a short statement released last night, President Surangel Whipps Jr. said that he recognizes the role of journalists in the country and values the work they do.
“Our journalists play a unique role in our society and we honor and commend them for the good work they are doing to maintain balance and order in our government,” he said.
Palau joins other nations and media associations regionally and internationally in commemorating World Press Freedom Day.
The United Nations Secretary-General in a statement urged governments to “do everything in their power” to support free, independent, and diverse media, noting that the media serves as “a cornerstone of democratic societies”.
“During the pandemic, and in other crises including the climate emergency, journalists and media workers help us navigate a fast-changing and often overwhelming landscape of information while addressing dangerous inaccuracies and falsehoods”, UN Sec-Gen Antonio Guterres said.
“Free and independent journalism is our greatest ally in combating misinformation and disinformation.”
He said journalists and media workers face “restrictions, censorship, abuse, harassment, detention, and even death, “simply for doing their jobs”, and that the situation continues to worsen.
With this, the PMC also elected their new set of officers, selecting Leilani Reklai, Island Times publisher and editor to take over Moses Uludong’s post as the organization’s chair.
Uludong, who has served as PMC chair for five years, said he is happy to step down and nominate Ms. Reklai as the new chair.
At the PMC’s annual general meeting yesterday, the members also elected Tia Belau editor Ongerung Kambes Kesolei as vice-chair, Olkeriil Eoghan Ngiruldelsang of TMC as Secretary, and Bernadette Carreon, Pacific Prepared Correspondent as treasurer.
TMC’s Ngewakl Isaac Soaladaob was also elected as the PMC Director. ( B. Carreon)

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