Small newsrooms in Palau welcome the World Press Freedom Day, which calls attention to the need to keep the media independent and free to seek, receive, and impart information for the public good.

“The World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity for smaller newsrooms like what we have in Palau to highlight the need for independent local journalism,” issued Palau Media Council, in recognition of the World Press Freedom Day today.

Newsrooms in Palau face daunting challenges of reduced capacity, economic pressures brought on by the pandemic, and the growing pressure to differentiate from other digital media platforms that bear no accountability for the legitimacy or authenticity of their content.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme “Journalism under digital siege” spotlights the multiple ways in which journalism is endangered by surveillance and digitally-mediated attacks on journalists, as well as the consequences of these issues on public trust.

Palau media has played a crucial role in mobilizing legitimate information amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to play this crucial role in the midst of an economic downturn. The media does this in an effort to prevent misinformation and disinformation and prevent “local/social infodemic”.

Actions to suppress the release of public information, censor free expression, and the lack of accountability in social media platforms erode public trust and put at risk independent media that is crucial to our democratic institutions.

“We believe that access to fact-based information should never be extinguished. Policy interests should not override the promise of transparency, press freedom, and open debate made by this government,” states Palau Media Council in its World Press Freedom Statement.

“We strongly disagree with the public denunciation of the independent media from the government and any attempts to make the press serve those in power rather than the public,” it added.

Palau’s forefathers wisely understood the need for an independent media for a well-functioning democracy and incorporated a clear strong language in the Constitution as a Fundamental Right. 

Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution states, “ The Government shall take no action to deny or impair the freedom of expression or press. No bona fide reporter may be required by the government to divulge information obtained during a professional investigation.”

“We believe that keeping the population informed and holding leaders to account is crucial to a fully functioning democratic government.” – Palau Media Council 2022 World Press Freedom Day Statement.

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