Papua New Guinea: Government minister calls for two reporters to be fired over Covid-19 coverage
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a call by a member of Papua New Guinea’s government for the dismissal of two journalists who simply served the public interest by providing helpful coverage of the measures it is taking in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Freddy Mou, who covers politics and business for the Loop PNG news website, and Gorethy Kenneth, a reporter for the English-language Post-Courier PNG newspaper, “can’t be trusted” and should be fired, police minister Bryan Kramer said in a post on his “Kramer Report” Facebook page on 11 April.
Kramer accused Mou of writing a “mischievous and misleading” article in which comments by the treasury minister about government funding for measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic were “taken out of context and misreported,” as reported by Pacific Media Watch.
Kramer also took issue with the fact that the video of the interview with the treasury minister that Mou posted in support of his article was shared by Kenneth on a Covid-19 discussion group for media outlets on WhatsApp.
“It is not up to a government minister to decide whether journalists should be fired, and especially when it is because of a report he didn’t like,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“This constitutes an unacceptable meddling in the media’s necessary work. We call on police minister Bryan Kramer to immediately withdraw his accusations against Freddy Mou and Gorethy Kenneth, who simply provided public interest reporting that was particularly helpful during the pandemic.”
Papua New Guinea is ranked 38th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.