Note: Before reading this article, I must make it absolutely clear that the opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect the views of the Office of Higher Education (OHE).
It seems journalism has reached an all time low recently. I got the rude awakening when The National printed in their brief news section that the Office of Higher Education (OHE) was selling the proposed Higher Education bill on a free file sharing site Hotfile. This information is totally false, misleading and implies improper conduct with public documents by the office. However, for me, it is personal because I built the website and upload the files to Hotfile for sharing. The media information may lead to people believing that I am selling these files for a profit. This is not true.
The files were uploaded to Hotfile because OHE is having difficulties with their web hosting service. At the moment, uploading files to the OHE website (http://www.ohe.gov.pg) is restricted. Our web host explained that this was a result of a virus infection on their system which they have now rectified. However, our channel to upload documents for public consumption is still restricted. This has led to us finding alternative ways to publish documents, one of which is the use of free file sharing services.
Free services although labelled as free come at a cost; that is the advertising and sales attempts the service provider will offer. This does not mean that the documents are being “sold”. No, the documents are free for downloading but you can get better services from the site for a fee (subscribe). The free downloads usually take more time and are lot slower but nonetheless you can still download without subscribing.
The news article by The National only implies poor journalism, negligence and incompetency. The person responsible for the information should have verified this information with IT personnel or with OHE. The editor too, did not bother to do any fact checking. OHE is not the only organisation to have come under attack by such poor journalism; NASFUND too, has faced similar misinformation especially with the SCITB issue. This brings up the question of qualification. How qualified are the people working in The National’s newsroom?
The level of reporting and the number of misinformation should start to stir serious questions about journalists within the press agency. The credibility and ethos of the newspaper is in jeopardy. If the newspaper keeps on printing news without any verification from the parties concerned then how can we trust them?
The media has a very strong influence over the general public. This great power brings the responsibility of fair, ethical and proper journalism. If these qualities are not in play then journalists would be like children playing with loaded guns.
This ‘news’ could also be a political manoeuvre to discredit the current acting Director General (DG) of OHE and the proposed amendments to the Higher Education Act (1983). This would mean unethical people using the media to publish propaganda.
It is no secret that certain stakeholders are against the proposed bill.
I once again make it absolutely clear that the proposed Higher Education bill is not being sold nor are the other documents made available online. I also urge that the media take responsibility and not publish news articles without validating its authenticity.