Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fairness and the Fiji media

"Anonymous" has taken me to task by claiming that my recent quickfire criticisms of the James Anthony report (and the Fiji media) were "typical" in that that "the racist part was overemphasized by [me] and the media elite. What is racist about the term 'white'?"
Actually, I would have been just as critical if such a "detached" report was addressed in such extreme emotive terms relating to any race.
"Should fairness in the media also mean proportionate representation?"
We're under no illusions, there is little fairness in the media in Fiji. There never has been as long as I have been writing about Fiji, and I also lived in Fiji for five years. After 40 years in the news media and having lived and worked in some 15 countries, my experience of the Fiji media is that it is the least fair and balanced of any media that I have encountered. Much of this has to do with the lack of basic training and education compared with many other countries. This is being gradually addressed by the two j-schools at USP and FIT but there is also a constant drain of experienced people. Still there are many outstanding journalists in Fiji.
This leads me to the next criticism from the reader:
"Seems you have turned on a dime, comparing your views on the Fiji Times post-2000 coup. I wonder why the media, including you have not commented on the glass ceiling of the Fiji media."
No, Mr Anonymous, I haven't turned at all. My criticisms stand and many others have echoed that analysis. A far fuller and documented case is made in my 306-page book Mekim Nius: South Pacific media, politics and education, published by the University of the South Pacific in 2004. It is available at Amazon.com. But that isn't the point. In my blog posting, I was addressing some of the flaws of the Anthony report.
"Anonymous" makes a few other points too - read them.

A new book about the state of the media in the Pacific today should be out by May. Co-edited by Evangelia Papoutsaki (formerly of the Divine Word University, and now of Unitec, NZ) and a former Fiji journalist, now media academic, Usha Sundar Harris, South Pacific Islands Communication: Regional Perspectives, Local Issues, it is jointly published by the Asian Media, Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) in Singapore, University of the South Pacific and AUT University's Pacific Media Centre. More information about this at the PMC.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The coverage of Fiji Times is now under scrutiny from its own readers for some unfair and inaccurate coverage.

This article underscores how the Fiji Times presents comments from people, and presenting those comments as the news.

Fiji Times article in question


---start---


Chief: Silence is not the key

Thursday, March 06, 2008

AS long as there is injustice there will never be silence.

Rewa chief Ro Filipe Tuisawau made the comments in reaction to Ratu Jo Nawalowalo's call for critics of the People's Charter to be silent.

"Jo just never seems to realise that as long as there is injustice there will never be silence," Ro Filipe said.

"The Charter was born out of the power of the gun and will never succeed," he said.

"It was not born out of a consultative process through our elected representatives in Parliament.

"In the process of the imposition of the power of the gun, three Fijians were killed and numerous others injured.

"Human rights abuses continue and media freedoms are under threat," he said.

Ro Filipe applauded Mick Beddoes and Suliana Siwatibau for resigning from the Charter, but said that they should not have joined in the first place.

"As for Seru Serevi's Charter song, let me remind him that Rewa has rejected the Charter and he should respect the decision of its Bose Ni Yasana and Bose Vanua to which he is subject to," he said.

"My message to Seru is that the Fijian people have been suppressed so do not sell your soul to the devil for 30 pieces of silver," Ro Filipe said.

---End---

These comments by Filipe Tuisawau was actually a letter to the Editor of Fiji Daily Post.

The letter to Fiji Daily Post Editor.



---start----

Amazing Ratu Jo
6-Mar-2008

Sir,

RATU Jo Nawalowalo just continues to amaze me when he advises critics of the Charter to be silent.

He just never seems to realise that as long as there is injustice there will never be silence.

The Charter was born out of the power of the gun and will never succeed.

It was not born out of a consultative process through our elected representatives in parliament.

In the process of the imposition of the power of the gun, three Fijians were killed and numerous others injured. Human rights abuses continue and media freedom is under threat.

The economy has gone into negative mode and law and order is a farce. Double standards and nepotism is the order of the day.

I applaud Beddoes and Siwatibau for resigning but they should not have joined in the first place.

As for Seru Serevi’s Charter song, let me remind him that Rewa has rejected the Charter and he should respect the decision of its Bose ni Yasana and Bose Vanua to which he is subject to.

My message to Seru is that the Fijian people have been suppressed so do not sell your soul to the devil for 30 pieces of silver.


Filipe Tuisawau,
Lami.

---end---



My question is why are letters to the editor now being considered a news article?

Where is the balance in the article, which the Fiji Times erroneously claims it follows?

Why wasn't the source of Filipe Tuisawau properly acknowledged?

Why are there an overwhelming amount of comments from the usual people as if their words are absolute and without ulterior motives. People like Ratu Osea Gavidi, Filipe Tuisawau, Mick Beddoes, Dr. Brij Lal, Sitiveni Rabuka et al.

These articles in the Fiji Times, such as the one on Australian Sports sanctions.

---start---

Update: 12:14PM
AUSTRALIA is pushing for further sanctions against Fiji, including a sports boycott, to force rugby-obsessed military leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama to respect human rights and return the country to democratic rule, the Australian reports.

Kevin Rudd later this week will canvass a series of measures against the Fijian dictatorship on an official visit to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands ahead of a Pacific Island Forum foreign ministers meeting later this month.

The move, which would lead to the ousting of the Fiji rugby team from this year's Pacific Nations Cup, including a game against Australia A in Brisbane, follows the beating and detention of opponents of the military regime, as well as last week's deportation of Fiji Sun newspaper publisher Russell Hunter, an Australian.

It also comes as Commodore Bainimarama's Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudry, yesterday announced he would sue the Fiji Times newspaper for $F1billion for defamation, following a series of articles in that newspaper, and in the Fiji Sun, raising allegations about his tax dealings.

Australia, New Zealand and other leaders of the 16-member Pacific Forum are understood to be concerned Commodore Bainimarama is continuing to entrench his power.

There are fears he will abandon a promise, made following Australian-led economic sanctions, to hold democratic elections next year.

Commodore Bainimarama took power in a bloodless coup on December 5, 2006 - the nation's fourth in 20 years.

Since the coup, the military leader has cracked down on dissent, with outspoken opponents detained, beaten and, in at least one case, killed.

A senior Australian government source said last night that a range of new sanctions was under consideration and would be canvassed across the Pacific in the coming weeks.

"There is frustration about the way things are going in Fiji," the source said. "Things are not getting better. In fact, they are getting worse.

"All sorts of options are being canvassed, including a sports boycott against Fiji, and will be on the table at the meetings."

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith's office did not return calls last night.

Already, Australia has imposed travel sanctions on the Bainimarama regime and suspended aid in other areas.

Former Fiji leader Sitiveni Rabuka, who led coups, said yesterday he doubted a sports boycott would have any effect on the regime.

"The problem with the idea is that the average person, who has nothing to do with this Government, will be hurt," he said. "They are the ones that really enjoy sport, love rugby, but I doubt it will concern the Government. The people are too scared to speak out."

Commodore Bainimarama is understood to be a rugby fanatic. Last year, it was reported he expelled New Zealand's high commissioner to Suva, Michael Green, after Fiji Rugby officials invited the diplomat, and not Commodore Bainimarama, to a dignitary area at a Junior All Blacks rugby match against Fiji.

---end---


Although, the story was acknowledged as from the Australian, the Fiji Times lifted whole paragraphs of the article in The Australian, without stating who the original author was. Moreover, the Australian Embassy has categorically denied the aspect of sports sanctions. No apology from Fiji Times or The Australian.

The original article in the Australian

---start---


Push for sports boycott of Fiji


Michael McKenna | March 05, 2008

AUSTRALIA is pushing for further sanctions against Fiji, including a sports boycott, to force rugby-obsessed military leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama to respect human rights and return the country to democratic rule.

Kevin Rudd later this week will canvass a series of measures against the Fijian dictatorship on an official visit to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands ahead of a Pacific Island Forum foreign ministers meeting later this month.

The move, which would lead to the ousting of the Fiji rugby team from this year's Pacific Nations Cup, including a game against Australia A in Brisbane, follows the beating and detention of opponents of the military regime, as well as last week's deportation of Fiji Sun newspaper publisher Russell Hunter, an Australian.

It also comes as Commodore Bainimarama's Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudry, yesterday announced he would sue the Fiji Times newspaper for $F1billion ($720 million) for defamation, following a series of articles in that newspaper, and in the Fiji Sun, raising allegations about his tax dealings.

Australia, New Zealand and other leaders of the 16-member Pacific Forum are understood to be concerned Commodore Bainimarama is continuing to entrench his power.

There are fears he will abandon a promise, made following Australian-led economic sanctions, to hold democratic elections next year.

Commodore Bainimarama took power in a bloodless coup on December 5, 2006 - the nation's fourth in 20 years.

Since the coup, the military leader has cracked down on dissent, with outspoken opponents detained, beaten and, in at least one case, killed.

A senior Australian government source said last night that a range of new sanctions was under consideration and would be canvassed across the Pacific in the coming weeks.

"There is frustration about the way things are going in Fiji," the source said. "Things are not getting better. In fact, they are getting worse.

"All sorts of options are being canvassed, including a sports boycott against Fiji, and will be on the table at the meetings."

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith's office did not return calls last night.

Already, Australia has imposed travel sanctions on the Bainimarama regime and suspended aid in other areas.

Former Fiji leader Sitiveni Rabuka, who led coups, said yesterday he doubted a sports boycott would have any effect on the regime.

"The problem with the idea is that the average person, who has nothing to do with this Government, will be hurt," he said. "They are the ones that really enjoy sport, love rugby, but I doubt it will concern the Government. The people are too scared to speak out."

Commodore Bainimarama is understood to be a rugby fanatic. Last year, it was reported he expelled New Zealand's high commissioner to Suva, Michael Green, after Fiji Rugby officials invited the diplomat, and not Commodore Bainimarama, to a dignitary area at a Junior All Blacks rugby match against Fiji.

In a statement through his lawyer, GP Lal, Mr Chaudhry said the Fiji Times - published by News Limited, publisher of The Australian - had been defaming his reputation.

Mr Lal said documents would name other people in the Fiji Times who he says have defamed Mr Chaudhry and are believed to be involved in a conspiracy to damage his client with a view to weakening the government.

Fiji Times editor-in-chief Netani Rika rejected the suggestion. "We are the free press, doing our jobs as Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama promised he would let us do," he said.
---end---


Basically, the Fiji Times is guilty of plagiarism and this is no small matter. When you present yourself as the sole creator of works, when in fact one has cut and paste these words from other sources and not acknowledging the fact is a serious concern that could be a criminal act.

Fiji Times has been doing that a lot without any apology.

I did notice a recent letter from Annie Sutton of Sydney, who also noticed Fiji Times lifting article(s) from Associate Press and not acknowledging the source. Editor responded to her letter saying it was merely an editorial oversight.

When this oversight continues unabated; means the practice of plagiarism is more than just a one time mistake. Plagiarism is considered an industry practice at Fiji Times, which the Editor has no intention of curbing.

This practice of plagiarism in Fiji Times articles has also escaped the attention of Fiji Media Council, the self declared media watch dog.

These dishonest practices by Fiji Times further underlines the need for a Media Authority in Fiji; one that is independent of the media and the Government of the day.

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