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Press and Government build better relationships on 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day

Thursday 4 May 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Local, National

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Press and Government build better relationships on 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day
Cook Islands News editor Rashneel Kumar addresses government officials on Wednesday, May 3 World Press Freedom Day. 23050304

It was only by coincidence when Cook Islands senior government officials met with senior Cook Islands News staff on World Press Freedom Day.

A meeting had been on the cards for a couple of months but busy schedules had pushed the date out to May 3.

The two groups convened in Tupapa yesterday morning after Cook Islands News reached out to Public Service Commissioner Carl Hunter with a request to meet heads of ministries, in an effort to build relationships, explain the role of media, what Cook Islands News does, and how the publication and senior officials can work together for the betterment of the community.

Officials were asked to provide feedback and highlight any concerns.

Hunter welcomed the proposal, initially saying it had the potential of paving the way for a win-win for both parties, in building trust and confidence.

His initial thoughts were confirmed yesterday.

“The chief executives and heads of ministries have welcomed the opportunity to have a face to face meeting with both the editor and deputy editor of Cook Islands News in an effort to build trust and confidence between the parties, which in turn will hopefully strengthen the working relationship for the betterment of the country and people,” Hunter said following the meeting.

“I am pleased to indicate that the vast majority of the group were very positive in their feedback about the face-to-face with Cook Islands News.

“I must admit that there was some initial hesitancy or uneasiness on the part of a few about it when I tabled the request a month or so ago, but no question whatsoever that they are feeling a lot more comfortable now that they have had a face-to-face meet and figured out, that as long as they are doing their jobs in a competent, professional and honest manner, then they don’t have anything to worry about in terms of negative news,” Hunter said.

“In that vein, I believe that we have definitely got off on the right track in terms of better understanding and respecting the respective roles that we play for the betterment of both our Ipukarea and people. 

“I am an advocate when it comes to the promotion of good governance through improved transparency, and to that end, media such as Cook Islands News will always play a critical role.”

Cook Islands News editor Rashneel Kumar said the meeting was an opportunity to raise awareness about the role of media as the fourth estate in a functioning democracy, which is essentially to inform the public and hold those in power to account, without fear or favour.

“As we celebrated World Press Freedom Day it is important, as the theme suggests, to understand the role of free and independent journalism in promoting human rights and empowering individuals to make informed decisions,” Kumar said.

“We are pleased with the feedback we received during the meeting and we look forward to working with various ministries and government officials to ensure free and transparent system of governance that represents the interests and values of Cook Islands people.

“Cook Islands News has a longstanding legacy of producing robust, high-quality journalism at community and national level.

“The newspaper is guided by principles that promote fair, accurate and balanced reporting; our job is to ensure we remain true to the principles we stand for.”

On World Press Freedom Day 2023, UNESCO held a special anniversary event at the United Nations headquarters in New York, marking the 30 years since the UN General Assembly’s decision proclaiming an international day for press freedom. 

The anniversary edition of World Press Freedom Day included a full day of activities at the UN Headquarters.  

The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day or  World Press Day, observed to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.