Media, Information and Development in Papua New Guinea

Article excerpt

Media, Information and Development in Papua New Guinea. Evangelia Papoutsaki and Dick Rooney, eds. Madang, Papua New Guinea: DWU Press, 2006. 243 pp. About U.S. $16 pbk.

In-depth studies of journalism and media systems in developing countries are a rarity. Thus, Media, Information and Development in Papua New Guinea fills a gap in international and development communication scholarship. This collection of essays from a renowned group of local scholars provides a comprehensive account of the media landscape of Papua New Guinea. The uniqueness of this work lies in the collaborative effort of faculty, staff, and students of the Communication Art Department of Divine Word University. The contributors to this book are well acquainted with the media in Papua New Guinea and are actively engaged in making them an important tool for national development and social change.

In order to understand the media system of any country, context is important. The culture, socio-economic, and political milieu in which a country's media system operates affects how it functions. Having gained independence in 1975, Papua New Guinea is a young, democratic state with a burgeoning media system, one of the "largest and most diverse" in the South Pacific region. The media in Papua New Guinea comprise three national newspapers (two dailies and a weekly), a television station, a national radio system, and several other commercial and religious radio stations. Following patterns of media systems familiar to most developing countries, the beginnings of Papua New Guinea's media are embedded in a colonial past that privileges the elite and literate groups in society.

This book is an eleven-chapter compilation edited by Evangelia Papoutsaki and Dick Rooney on a wide range of topics addressing media ownership, journalism education, national development, ethics, community media, identity, and culture. Each chapter is anchored in quantitative research in the form of surveys of media institutions, audiences, journalists, and analyses of media content.

Media ownership is key in defining the media's development function. Chapter 5 is dedicated to discussing ownership and its implication for democracy. Rooney notes the effects of globalization and how it is reflected by the domination of foreign ownership of Papua New Guinea media. …