Tuesday May 12 2020
The mainstream media and the COVID-19 Media and Public Information Unit of the Joint Agency Task Force, have resolved to collaborate to ensure appropriate and timely information is disseminated to the general public, amid concerns of growing misinformation.
In a Media Dialogue today co-hosted by the United Nations and the Joint Agency Task Force in Port Moresby, the dialogue resolved to allow outcomes of the meeting to be presented to the government and the Controller of the COVID-19 State of Emergency, David Manning.
Minister for Information and Communications Technology, Hon. Timothy Masiu opened the dialogue and said it was an appropriate time for the conference given the many issues of concern, not only from government but for many also in the public and private sector in the many misleading and misinformation going out especially in the social media.
“I want to thank the mainstream media in your coverage of this pandemic. It is an invisible war the globe is fighting and we are all equally responsible for stopping its spread because if there is any lapse on everybody’s responsibility, it can be catastrophic.
“Our concern and more so my concern as the Minister responsible is the use and abuse of social media and in this case, Facebook,” Minister Masiu said.
He said he has directed the National Information and Communication Technology Authority (NICTA) and his department to discuss with Facebook Australia on what can be done to manage the abuse of social media.
United Nations PNG Country Coordinator, Gianluca Rampola, welcomed the dialogue and expressed the importance for an open, upfront and clear partnership between the media and relevant authorities ,with the intention to relay correct information to the public.
Mr Rampola from Italy, said his country was one of the worst affected COVID-19 countries, adding the earlier experiences of lack of communication and awareness issues led to what happened in his country with many deaths.
He agreed to be the mediator to bring concerns of the mainstream media to the Government and the COVID-19 SOE Controller.
Mr Rampola further agreed to bring up the outcomes of the dialogue and recommending strategies, to assist in improving the working partnership and collaboration with the all stakeholders in the effort to stop COVID-19 spread and the stigma it has created.
The Operations Commander of the SOE Joint Agency Task Force Donald Yamasombi agreed that collaboration among and between all parties including media and the government, was key towards empowering the people with the knowledge to protect themselves.
He reaffirmed the Controller and the JATF support of the media and recognition of its important role in the fight against COVID-19.
The dialogue also involved media workers and students outside of Port Moresby who were connected through a virtual application called Zoom Video conferencing which is becoming a new normal in meetings to avoid crowding.
The dialogue also discussed the need for timely release of information to the public through the mainstream media and authorized social media platforms, leaking of information to the public from unauthorized persons especially via social media, the use of correct and simple terminology, stigma faced by journalists, media workers and health workers or victims and risks faced by journalists and media workers in general.
The recommendations and findings of the dialogue are expected to be delivered next week to the Controller of the SOE by the UN Resident Coordinator Mr Rampola.
Media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS
Team Leader – COVID-19 Media & Public Information Joint Agency Task Force
Mobile: 75430557: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org