“When we stand together as a team, we are stronger.”
Meet Georgina Kekea, journalist at the Solomon Times Online and President of the Media Association of Solomon Islands who is passionate about empowering people through advocacy for a transparent and accountable media in Solomon Islands.
The importance of a free, professional and plural media in contributing to good governance has gained traction in Solomon Islands.
“A vibrant media gives people free-flowing access to information, enables dialogue, encourages people to express their views, prompts greater political participation and encourages accountability,” said Kekea.
The Solomon Islands’ media industry is a fast-growing one and there was a need to have a platform that would support an enabling environment for free and independent media and strengthen their capacities. Hence, the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) was founded in 1980 to provide strong leadership and support to the media industry, stakeholders, and community to empower the media industry to provide up-to-date quality news and information to all Solomon Islanders.
The media usually reflects the country’s pace of development. UNDP supports the enabling environment for a free and independent media therefore, underpinning the media’s potential role in promoting democratic governance, sustainable development and peace.
“With the Transparency and Accountability project’s support, we are boosting the journalists’ capacity building on reporting corruption and bribes. Thanks to this support, the media is more informed and has better knowledge on issues they have to communicate to people," said Kekea.
She stressed that the coronavirus crisis has pushed them [the media] into the digital sphere, using all the possible online tools.
She said, “The media had to adapt to the situation and combat fake news, and spread the word about the real situation around the pandemic. The media community had to be more flexible and accessible to reach new audiences, especially those who lack access to information, to leave no one behind.
“Not only in crises but always emotions matter because it’s wherein the story people feel the most connected to. This inspires them. It’s something that generates people to think. To be more empathetic towards people,” added Kekea.
“Another big challenge is misinformation: social media, informal news sources and fringe journalism have filled the void, often sowing fear, stigmatization, discrimination and confusion. By standing with people to build a trusted relationship, national media can mitigate the worst threats of misinformation, and in turn more loss of lives and livelihoods,” she said.
The local media in Solomon Islands, specifically MASI, acts as a body that looks after everyone digitally wise. It brings everything and everyone together. Through shared problems, the media is evolving and supporting the people and government in finding new ways of combating fake news and misinformation.
“At the end of the day, we all are doing the same thing. We’re doing this for our country and our future. We are moving forward together and that is how we all grow,” said Kekea.
UNDP Solomon Islands has worked closely with the MASI to engage in dialogue with UN experts on development issues, strategies and visions, including the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The media plays an important and effective role in advocacy, education, and awareness related to the Global Goals and their contribution towards building a sustainable society. We must ensure that the 2030 Agenda is being communicated clearly, and in simple language to the citizens. Therefore, a close and meaningful partnership with the media is an effective strategy. Thus, we are happy to have this positive engagement with MASI,” says Mr. Berdi Berdiyev, UNDP Country Manager in Solomon Islands.
Through further support and joint activities, UNDP and MASI will continue to conduct awareness-raising and ensure that everyone has access to and enjoys their right to information.