Key Melanesian Media Freedom Challenges: Climate Crisis, Internet Freedoms, Fake News and West Papua
Melanesia, and the microstates of the Pacific generally, face the growing influence of authoritarian and secretive values in the region—projected by both China and Indonesia and with behind-the-scenes manipulation. There is also a growing tendency for Pacific governments to use unconstitutional, bureaucratic or legal tools to silence media and questioning journalists. Frequent threats of closing Facebook and other social media platforms and curbs on online freedom of information are another issue. While Pacific news media face these challenges, their support networks are being shaken by the decline of Australia as a so-called ‘liberal democracy’ and through the undermining of its traditional region-wide public interest media values with the axing of Radio Australia and Australia Network television. Reporting climate change is the Pacific’s most critical challenge while Australian intransigence over the issue is subverting the region’s media. This article engages with and examines these challenges and also concludes that the case of West Papua is a vitally important self-determination issue that left unresolved threatens the security of the region.