The right to know, the duty to tell the truth without fear or favour

Vakai ki he konga taupotu taha ki lalo 'o e peesi ni 'oku 'i ai 'a e fakamatala faka-Tonga 'a Sione Tu'itahi kau ki he'ene fakamatala ko 'eni 'i he lea 'Ingilisi.

The public needs to be more vigilant in consuming news from social media and mainstream media has to work hard to protect the Tongan public from fake news.

That’s the message from Sione Tu’itahi, Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand, who said Tongans were becoming confused by fake news and biased, unbalanced stories.

He said these emanated from a handful of Tongan social media sources that acted as professional news outlets.

“This unfortunate situation happens at a time of significant transformation in Tonga society, a time when enlightened, robust and healthy public discourse that can lead to wise decisions, is sorely needed to ensure a relatively smooth change for the better in all domains of society, and for the collective good,” Tu’itahi said.

“It is timely then to revisit the role of the traditional and social media in society today.”

Writing in the latest edition of his series Talanoa Tufunga Fonua: Discourse on Nation Building, Tu’itahi said the primary aim of the media was inform, educate and entertain.

“The media’s task is to tell the truth as it sees it without fear or favour,” he said.

“Truth in this case is about accurate, full, and timely facts, told in balanced, fair and unbiased ways.”

He said opinions of the media should normally be kept to a clearly labelled space, such as the editorial page, so that facts are not diluted with its opinion, which can confuse the public or cause undue influence.

People had the right to know.

“It is the duty of the media to tell,” he said.

“It is a fundamental responsibility of policy and decision makers to inform its constituents with the whole truth in a timely manner. This is the virtuous cycle that can ensure a progressive society where truth is sought to enlighten decisions that can build and enhance a peaceful and prosperous community and nation.”

As the public platform for diverse perspectives that connected the views and voices of the rulers and the ruled, the media played a vital link and role in community and national building. More than any time before, the Tongan media must rise to the occasion in executing their duty with professional and moral courage in a small society where almost everyone is related to each other.

Nurses

“In 1979-1980, the nurses went on mass protest and later resigned, unhappy with a decision by the Government of the day over who their new manager should be,” Tu’itahi said.

“One of the only  two news media at the time, reported on the resignation in a biased manner, giving voice to the Government only. Amid public confusion and rising anger, the other outlet fortunately reported the story fairly, giving the views of both sides.”

At the end of the whole process, the Government listened to the nurses and changed its decision for the happiness and betterment of all. The nurses returned to work and the public was fully informed. It was a win-win situation after all.

“So what can be done to address these new media challenges?” Tu’itahi asked.

“How can we manage the opportunities and challenges of information technology and the social media?”

He said the Tongan news outlets and their journalists could strengthen their professional media association to train their members in the knowledge, skills and ethics of journalism.

“They must aspire to be exemplars in protecting their media freedom and the freedom of speech of the public, thus ensuring a healthy exchange of informed views in public discourse,” he said.

“They can investigate and expose those bogus, biased groups of media whose masquerades ruin their profession and propagate untruths that lead to unhealthy, uninformed, negative exchange in many Tongan social spaces.”

He said the public could be more vigilant in consuming the so-called news from social media outlets who propagate biased stories and false news.

“Consuming such information is like taking medical advice from a bogus doctor, and heading to the abyss in the darkness of night, with your headlights off. Faith and prayers cannot save you,” he said.

“In a strong oral culture like Tonga, where research-based literature has yet to become the foundation of community story-telling and social discourse, the media profession must be relentless in upholding its code of professional conduct, exposing the bogus media, educate the public on its role, and continue to maintain high standards in its duty to tell, and the right of the people to know.

“In the final analysis, no nation on earth, Tonga included, will last if it is built on falsehood and one-sided truth. As the mirror of society and the fourth estate, the Tongan media, must continue to lead by both words and action.”

The main points

  • The public needs to be more vigilant in consuming news from social media and mainstream media has to work hard to protect the Tongan public from fake news.
  • That’s the message from Sione Tu’itahi, Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand, who said Tongans were becoming confused by fake news and biased, unbalanced stories.
  • He said these emanated from a handful of Tongan social media sources that d as professional news outlets.

1 COMMENT

  1. Talanoa Tufunga Fonua – Konga Fitu’

    Mahu’inga ke talaki e mo’oni ‘o ‘ikai filifilimānako pe taaufehi’a

    Fa’u ‘e Sione Tu’itahi

    (Faiako, fa’u tohi mo faiongoongo pea kaungā taki he mala’e ‘o e mo’ui mo e langa fonua ‘i Aoteroa Nu’usila)
    ‘Oku talafili e ngaahi kāinga Tonga mo e fonua he ngaahi ‘aho ni koe’uhi ko e ngaahi ongoongo fakapalataha mo loi ‘oku fakamafola he ngalu’ea pea tufaki he ngaluope. He’ikai ha kāinga pe fonua ‘e langa he fakapalataha mo e loi pea tau ‘amanaki ke tu’uloa. Ko ia tau tālanga he konga 7 ‘o ‘etau talanoa tufunga fonua ki he fatongia ‘o e kautaha ongoongo mo e kau faiongoongo koe’uhi ‘oku mahu’inga fau.

    Ko e mo’oni ‘oku makatu’unga ai e langa hake ‘o e kāinga mo e fonua. Ka ‘ikai ma’u e mo’oni ‘e lahi e ma’u hala ‘a e kakai, tupu e hu’uhu’u mo e fetaaufehi’a’aki pea ‘e ala iku ki he fekolo’aki. Ko hono nunu’a ko e holo e kāinga mo e fonua kotoa. Te tau kavahia kotoa mei he tu’ukimu’a ki he tu’ukimui, mei he lalahi ki he iiki, he ko ‘etau nofo ‘oku fekau’aki, fefalala’aki mo fefakakakato’aki. ‘Oku ‘ikai ha to’a ‘e tu’u tokotaha.

    Tukukehe ange ‘a e fiema’u ke nau taki he founga totonu mo taumu’a ki he lelei fakakātoa, ko e fatongia ‘o e kau taki mo e kau fai tu’utu’uni he kāinga mo e fonua ke tuku mai e mo’oni kakato he taimi totonu ke maama e fonua pea makatu’unga leva he mo’oni ‘enau fakakaukau, ‘enau fili mo ‘enau ngāue. Te nau ala ‘ofa ai he kau taki mo e kāinga , kolo mo e fonua mo kau atu ki hono langa.

    Ko e fatongia ‘o e kautaha ongoongo mo ‘ene kau faiongoongo ko hono talaki ‘o e mo’oni ‘o ‘ikai filifilimānako pe ilifia. Ke nau fekumi ta’emanavahē mo faitotonu ‘o tala ‘a e ongoongo tonu, mo’oni mo kakato. ‘Oua ‘e fakapalataha, kae potupotumālie, ‘oua ‘e kau ki ha tafa’aki kae ‘oange ‘a e totonu ‘a e tafa’aki kotoa ke fakahā ‘enau totonu mo ‘enau vakai. ‘Oku nau fakafehokotaki e kau taki mo e kakai he founga mahino, maama mo totonu pea makatu’unga ai ‘etau feinga kotoa ki he lelei fakalukufua kae ‘ikai ko e lelei pē ‘a ha ni’ihi.
    Ko e totonu ia ‘a e kakai ke nau ma’u ‘a e ongoongo mo’oni mo kakato he taimi totonu kae lava ke nau fai ‘a e tu’u’tu’uni mo e ngāue ‘oku kaunga lelei ki he’enau mo’ui mo e lelei fakakatoa ‘a e fonua.

    Vakai ki he ongo talanoa ko eni. ‘Uluaki, ‘i he 1979-1980 ne fakahāhā loto pea tuku ngāue fakalukufua ‘a e kau neesi koe’uhi ko ‘enau loto mamahi he founga ne fili ’aki honau taki he ‘aho ko ia. Na’e kei ua pē ‘a e ma’u’anga ongoongo faka’aho mo fakauike ‘a Tonga he ‘aho ko ia, ‘a ia ko e nusipepa ‘e taha mo e letiō ‘e taha.
    Na’e fakamafola fakapalataha ‘a e ongoongo ki he tuku ngāue ‘e he taha ‘o e ongo kautaha ongoongo. Nau ‘ave pē ‘a e le’o mo e fakamatala ‘a e Pule’anga ‘o e ‘aho ko ia kae ‘ikai ‘oange ‘a e le’o mo e fakamatala ‘a e kau neesi, neongo ‘enau totonu ‘oku foaki ‘e he Konisitutone ki he tau’atāina ‘a e lea.

    Na’e kamata ke ma’u hala ‘a e kakai ‘o nau loto mamahi mo ‘itengia e kau neesi he’enau tuku ngāue kae ‘ikai tokanga’i e kau mahaki he ngaahi falemahaki. Kae mālie ne hanga ‘e he kautaha ongoongo ‘e taha ‘o fakamafola fakatou’osi e le’o ‘o e Pule’anga mo e tafa’aki ‘a e kau neesi pea toki ma’u kakato ai ‘e he kakai ‘a e mo’oni ‘o e me’a ne hoko. Ne iku foki ‘o ikuna e kau neesi he’enau tangi ke fakalelei e tu’utu’uni, pea nau foki fiefia ‘o fakahoko lelei honau fatongia.

    Talanoa ua. ‘I he 1989 na’e pulusi ‘e he nusipepa ‘a e Pule’anga ko e Kalonikali Tonga ‘a e ongoongo ki hono faka’ilo e Fale Alea felave’i mo honau vāhenga. Ka na’e ta’ofi ‘e he Kapineti ‘o e ‘aho ko ia ke ‘oua ‘e pulusi e tatau faka-Pilitania ‘o e Kalonikali. ‘I he’enau taukave’i e tau’atāina ‘a e ongoongo koe’uhi ko e lelei ‘a e fonua, na’e fakatau folofola e Kalonikali ki he ‘Ene ‘Afio Taufa’ahau Tupou IV pea ne folofola ke pulusi he ‘oku tau’atāina ‘a e Kalonikali ‘o tatau pē mo ha toe kautaha ongoongo ‘o hangē ko ia ‘oku malu’I ‘e he konisitūtone ‘a e tau’atāina ‘a e ongoongo.

    Ko hono mahu’inga ia ke fakahā ma’u pē ‘a e mo’oni kakato pea ‘oua ‘e manavahē pe filifili mānako koe’uhi ko ha’ate tui, pe ko hato kāinga , pe kumi monū, pe manavahē ki he kau ma’u mafai pe ko hato loto taaufehi’a ki ha taha. Ko e lelei fakakātoa ‘a e fonua ‘oku ma’olunga taha mo mahu’inga taha.
    ‘Oku toe faingofua ange mo vave ‘a e tufaki e ongoongo tu’unga he fakalakalaka ‘a e me’angāue hangē ko e ‘initaneti. ‘I he 1990 ko e vave hono ‘ave ‘o e lau’itā mei he fonua ‘e taha ki he fonua ‘e taha ke pulusi he nusipepa ne fakatefito he vave ‘o e puna ‘a e vakapuna. Ko e ‘aho ni ‘oku lau sekoni pē he telefoni to’oto’o pe komipiuta. Pe ko ‘ete faitā’aki pē ‘a e telefoni he taimi tatau ‘oku hoko ai e ongoongo ‘o tufaki hangatonu ki ha tapa pē ‘o māmani.

    Fiema’u ke ako e kau faiongoongo

    Ko hono mo’oni kuo vave, ma’ama’a mo faingofua e tufaki ongoongo tu’unga he tekinolosia ka ‘oku ‘ikai ‘uhinga ia ‘oku faiongoongo ai e taha kotoa ‘oku ma’u ha’ane telefoni pe komipiuta. Kuopau ke tomu’a ako e tokotaha faiongoongo ke poto he fakafaikehekehe’i ‘a e ongoongo mei he loi, lau kovi, mo e talanoa noa pē. Telia na’a faka’ilo kinautolu pea telia na’a nau takihala’i e kakai ‘o e fonua. ‘Ikai ko ia pē ka ke nau poto he fekumi ki he ongoongo mo e mo’oni tautefito ki ha taimi ‘oku fufū ai ‘e he kau ma’u mafai ‘a e ongoongo. Pe te nau feinga ke lomitoka e kau faiongoongo ke ‘oua ‘e tala e ongoongo telia na’a kau kovi kiate kinautolu kau ma’u mafai.

    Kuopau foki ke ako pea ngāue’aki ‘e he kautaha ongoongo mo ‘ene kau faiongoongo ‘a e tu’utu’uni fakangāue ‘o e faiongoongo ‘a ia ko e fakahā ‘a e mo’oni ‘o ‘ikai ha manavahē pe filifilimānako, tatau pe ko hai. Ke ‘oua te nau fakamafola ‘a e ongoongo tu’unga he loto taaufehi’a. Pea ke potupotu tatau ‘a e ongoongo ‘aki hono ‘oange ‘a e faingamālie tatau ki he tapa kotoa ke fakamatala pea fa’u mei ai e ongoongo.

    Ko e tau’atāina ko ia ‘a e kau faiongoongo ko e tau’atāina ke fakahoko ‘aki e fatongia ki he lelei fakalukufua, kae ‘ikai ko ha makatu’unga pe faingamālie ia ke ngāue hala’aki ‘e he kau faiongoongo ‘o lohiaki’i e fonua pe ofe’i ‘a e ongoongo ke fakapalataha ki he’enau tui koe’uhi ke fakalotoa e kakai ke nau tui tatau.

    Pea ka ‘oku ‘i ai ha lau pe fakakaukau ‘a e kautaha ongoongo ki he ngaahi me’a ‘oku hoko, pea ke fokotu’u mahino ia ki he feitu’u ‘oku faka’ilonga’i mahino, hangē ko e peesi ko e ‘lau ‘a e ‘etita,’ kae ‘oua ‘e fio fakataha ‘enau fakakaukau mo e ongoongo kotoa he te nau taki hala’i mo kaunoa he loto ‘o e kakai mo ‘enau totonu ke fili ki he’enau tui ki ha fa’ahinga kaveinga pē ‘oku tālanga’i he ongoongo.

    ‘Oku totonu ke tu’u kaukaua ‘a e kautaha fakangāue ‘a e kau faiongoongo ke kau atu ki hono malu’i e totonu ‘a e kakai pea pehē foki mo e totonu ‘a e kau faiongoongo. Pea ke fakatonutonu pe tautea ha kautaha ongoongo mo e faiongoongo ‘oku ne maumau’i e tu’utu’uni. ‘Ikai ngata ai ka ke nau tali mo vakai ha ngaahi launga mei he kakai ke fakapapau’i ‘oku fakamaau totonu ‘a e founga ‘oku nau vakai ‘aki telia na’a mole ‘a e tau’atāina ke lea, tatau pe ko hai. Pehē ki hono fakapapau’i ‘oku ‘ikai lomekina e mo’oni mo e totonu.

    Ka fakahoko e ‘uuni me’a ni pea ‘e maama e fonua pea tau’atāina. ‘E tupulaki e fakakaukau lelei, ‘ilo mo e poto pea femahino’aki e kakai he ‘oku nau maamangia he ama takiloa ‘a e kautaha ongoongo poto mo faitotonu ki he fatongia. ‘E ‘ilo e ngaahi ngāue lelei ‘oku fakahoko ma’a e fonua pea fakae’a mo e kovi mo e fehalaaki ‘o lava ke toe fakalelei mo fakatonutonu.

    ‘I he 1987 na’a ma kaunga ngāue mo Pesi Fonua ‘o e kautaha ongoongo Matangi Tonga mo e ni’ihi kehe ‘o fokotu’u ‘a e ‘uluaki kautaha fakangāue ma’a e kau faiongoongo na’e ui ko e Tonga News Association ke malu’i e totonu ‘a e kakai pea mo e totonu ‘a e kau faiongoongo kae’um’a hono ako’i kinautolu ki he fai fatongia. Ne ‘omi mo e kau matatotao mei muli ‘o ngāue fakataha mo kimautolu ne ngāue he ongoongo he ngaahi ‘aho ko ia ke ako’i e kau faiongoongo.

    Ko e me’apango ‘e taha he ngaahi ‘aho ni ko e ngāue’aki ‘e he ni’ihi ta’efakapotopoto ‘a e ‘initaneti mo hono ngaahi me’angāue hangē ko e Facebook ke fakamafola ai e ngaahi ongoongo fakapalataha mo ‘ikai mo’oni. ‘Oku nau ngāue’aki eni ke vaka ai e ngaahi loto taaufehi’a ki he kakai kehe, hangē ko e kau taki e fonua. ‘Oku nau toitoi pea ‘ikai ‘omai ha hingoa pe tu’asila ‘e he ngaahi kautaha ongoongo ko eni ke lava ‘o fai ki ai ha launga pe ha toe fetu’utaki.

    ‘Oku mahu’inga ‘aupito e talanoa mo e tālanga maama mo melino ‘a e kakai e fonua he ngaahi kaveinga kotoa pē koe’uhi ko ‘enau lelei mo e lelei ‘a e fonua ‘o fou he ngaahi kautaha ongogongo he ko e taha ia honau fatongia.
    Pea ‘oku tuku mai e ngaahi fakakaukau kehekehe ke lava ai ke tau vakai ki he ngaahi tapa kehekehe ‘o e mo’oni mo e ngaahi founga kehekehe ke vete’aki e faingata’a mo tokoni ki he langa e fonua. Ka ‘oku mahu’inga pē ke makatu’unga e talanoa he mo’oni pea felingiaki e fakakaukau he loto tau’atāina kae ‘ikai ko e taaufehi’a. Ko e tālanga he loi mo e loto taaufehi’a ko hono tamate’i ia e maama ‘a e fonua ka tau nofo he fakapo’uli lahi. He’ikai ma’u ha lelei ai ‘a ha taha.

    Ko ia ai ‘oku mahu’inga ke toe poto ange ‘a e kau lau ongoongo ke nau kumi e ngaahi kautaha ongoongo mo’oni mo falala’anga. He ko ‘ete lau e ngaahi ongoongo mei he ngaahi kautaha ongoongo loi mo tau toitoi ‘oku tatau ia mo ‘ete ‘alu ke ako ‘i ha faiako na’e ‘ikai tomu’a ako fakafaiako. Pe talatala mahaki ki ha toketa loi. Ko e koto fakapo’uli, taki ‘e he kui ‘a e kui, mo e mate kuo pau.

    Ko hono aofangatuku, ko e faiongoongo ko e ngāue mahu’inga ki he langa mo e tufunga fonua he ‘oku makatu’unga e langa he mo’oni kae ‘ikai ko e loi, filifilimānako pe taaufehi’a. Ko e ngāue ‘oku fiema’u ki ai ‘a e poto faka’atamai mo e poto fakalaumālie – ke ‘ilo e founga kumi ki he mo’oni pea tala totonu e mo’oni koe’uhi ko e lelei fakalukufua. Ko e lotu ma’olunga ‘a ‘ete faitotonu hoto fatongia pea tala e mo’oni ‘o ‘ikai ha ilifia pe filifilimānako. Pea ‘oua ‘e taki hala’i pe lohiaki’i e kakai ‘a e ‘Otua he’e mui mai hono ngaahi nunu’a.
    Ko e fonua poto ‘a Tonga pea kuo nau maama he lotu mo e ako. Fakatauange ke tau kei tulifua kotoa ke tauhi ‘a e tu’unga ko ia ‘e kei langa ai pē ‘a Tonga monū’ia ki ‘olunga.

    Tu’a ‘ofa atu
    ©Sione Tu’itahi 2018

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