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Panpa Bulletin : April 2006
16 | PaNPa bUlletiN april 2006 in a developing country like Papua New Guinea, the media plays a vital role. The Post-Courier, under the steward- ship of editor-in-chief Oseah Philemon has done more than most, a fact that has now been recognised by the Queen. Philemon was awarded an OBE in recognition of his contri- bution to the nation's media in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace late last year. OP, as he is known nationally, has involved the paper in many public campaigns to highlight important issues from gun con- trol to AIDS awareness. "The gun issue was one which I initiated through the Post-Cou- rier after I was held up the sec- ond time outside the National Library," OP said. "The Post-Cou- rier published a front page edito- rial and invited readers to send in their views on the issue." The paper, under OP's ener- getic leadership, continued to push the issue and ran free ads calling for tough action against il- legal guns. This led to the forma- tion of a National Guns Control Committee to seek public views on the issue and make appro- priate recommendations to the Government for further action. "The committee was formed and I was appointed to represent the media on it," he said. This commitment to public issues led to OP's nomination for the OBE, something he never expected. In fact, he found out about his award though the pag- es of his own newspaper, which published the official honours list. "I was dumbfounded to say the least," he exclaims. A humble man, OP gives credit for the award to others who have played an important part in his life. "As much as I feel proud of receiving it, I feel it is an award that so many people contributed to towards, both in professional life and my private and family life. There were many individu- als throughout my whole career who gave me so much help and encouragement throughout all those years and helped me to get towhereIamtoday-andIam deeply indebted to them." OP started his media career in radio in 1972 at the National Broadcasting Commission. After a brief stint at the Prime Minis- ter's department as an assistant to the press secretary he went back to radio, then in 1985 joined the Post-Courier as chief-of-staff. In July 1992 he was appointed editor and in July last year be- came editor-in-chief. Philemon’s work acknowledged AUSTRALIAN Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty has hit out at "sloppy journalism", the "disproportionate exposure " that civil libertarians get in the media, and the "in-house" process which he considers the Press Council op- erates in dealing with complaints. The Commissioner used an invitation to deliver the annual Press Council address to voice an extensive list of concerns about media standards and the issue of whether the Press Council should be proactive or reactive. Keelty complained that rev- elations in the media of police anti-terrorism tactics had set back the AFP's "quest to pro- tect the public" and was highly critical of the "public interest hypocrisy" presented by jour- nalists as a defence when they "managed to acquire opera- tional detail through leaks." Keelty said the past five years had been characterised by a shift in journalism. Police roundsmen and women who were familiar with the criminal law and familiar with the courts had been "over-run by a new cadre of journalists who have been directed by their news editors to go out and report on the security environment," he said. "Some of these journalists have little or no understanding of our criminal justice system. There are inherent difficulties in sending people who are un- familiar with the court system, and unfamiliar with the gen- esis of legislation and policy, to cover stories in the new envi- ronment." The Commissioner believes the reporting on the new coun- ter terrorism legislation had not always been balanced and had not come from a position of understanding. Opinion pieces had started to dominate our newspapers. But opinion pieces were just that and rarely did the reader get a full insight into the background of the per- son providing the opinion. "And yet, because of the way the media now operates, because of the internet and because of what I call sloppy journalism, journalists writing articles search for information and suddenly opinion pieces become infallible," said Keelty. "Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Opin- ion pieces are often written by individuals trying to serve their own purposes. They often con- tain information that has either not been well researched, can- not be substantiated or is incor- rect." In support of his criticism of the Press Council, Keelty said he had been through the proc- ess of bringing an issue before the organisation. "It is not a process that is ei- ther inviting or satisfactory. The process is driven by process it- self, and the process, certainly in my experience, delivers equivocal rather than emphatic outcomes," he said. He had been appalled to see the a daily newspaper's front page story about Peter Cos- groves' family, six months after he had ceased to be Chief of the Defence Force. "One must question the 'public interest' in a story about someone's family when the person no longer holds a pub- lic position," Keelty said. "I am told Peter complained to the Press Council. Another journal- ist working for the same news- paper decided independently to 'right the wrong'. The Press Council, I am told, asked Pe- ter whether the issue had been resolved by the subsequent ar- ticle, but we all know that the subsequent article could not erase the damage caused by the first." Keelty said he, too, had suf- fered a not dissimilar attack over the Bali Nine case, refer- ring to his wife and family. The particular newspaper published an editorial the following day praising him for his work. "Does that 'right the wrong'? No, it does not. But having been through the Press Coun- cil experience once in my life, there is little or no motivation to try it again." Other issues raised by the commissioner included: Police Accountability Keelty hits out at media In a speech to the Press Council, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty was scathing in his opinion of current journalistic practices. Jack beverley reports.