Update: 7:00PM THE head of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) has used World Press Freedom Day to call on governments in the region to develop national media associations.
In a statement, PINA president Moses Stevens says "it is an undeniable fact that there is a major lack of understanding yet in the Pacific on the role of the media."
"[We] in the Pacific need to take a good look at ourselves and within our media fraternity and ask ourselves 'how can we effectively advocate media freedom so that our people, from the villages up to the higher places, have a better understanding of the work that we do, and thereby embrace media freedom as their freedom truly?'" Mr Stevens said.
"I wish to reiterate PINA's stand and call on our governments, traditional and potential media development partners to assist in the development of (National Media Associations) at the local level and strengthening PINA at the regional level."
In the statement, Mr Stevens congratulated Vanuatu on "recent positive achievements" in media-government collaborations, and he's also welcomed the news of a newly-registered Fijian Media Association which was set to be officially launched in Suva on Saturday evening.
"PINA has been supporting our media colleagues in Fiji to set up their national media association. We congratulate them for this great initiative to have a body to represent the interests of all media workers in Fiji," Mr Stevens said.
He's also acknowledged the reactivation of the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI).
MASI was due to recognise achievements in local media at the national Media Awards as part of World Press Freedom Day.
PINA has also acknowledged the role of the Australian government's aid agency, AusAID, in supporting leadership and media practice in the Pacific.