From a PR perspective, the Evan Hannah affair looks pretty bad on the interim govt - and we'd be right to be condemning the expulsion - but one of the basic rules of journalism is that there are always two sides (sometimes more) to a story: That the IG is not divulging all the reasons for its actions, is a little frustrating for most reporters who are led to conclude that there are no genuine reasons for the expulsion.
But the warning signs have been there all along - I think publishing of the [Dr John] Cameron opinion piece was a push too far over the line . Any journalist who has basic knowledge of subjudice laws knows that one is not supposed to discuss matters before courts in the media.
But even then, its hard to justify expelling the publisher. There are other channels of complaints/courts etc to follow in this for the government. Should the media give more understanding to the government's point of view, that it is tired of calling the media to be more responsible; for the Media Council to advise its members better etc? (This has happened if one looks back over the past few months if not the past year!)
I am trying to take an objective stand on this matter. But my conclusion is that both sides - media and govt - have made mistakes. The question is how far do each test each other's patience.
I feel that the media in Fiji is relatively a lot freer than most nations. That the military has let by and large the media do its work without much interference is a plus considering we've had a military coup not 15 months ago. Should the media continue to push along a line that could lead to sanctioning of the media on more stringent terms than those that are spelt out in the bill of rights of our constitution? I don't think so.
Every right and freedom comes with grave responsibility. If we are to claim those rights/freedoms, then we should also have the maturity to see the consequences of our practising those rights and freedoms; to see whether our actions are in the right/same spirit as that espoused in the constitution; or are we going to serve a certain agenda that
could lead to chaos in the nation?
These are among some very important considerations that the media here has make every day. I don't think they get it right all the time - but we're learning. The thing about learning is that sometimes we have to learn the hard way when we make the same mistakes - the Hannah/Hunter case might be an example, though I might be oversimplifying the matter
as there are many more dynamic factors in the Hunter case.
Both sides can get a little too defensive and jumpy at any little criticism and that's why we are
in such a melee!!
- I'll close media: Fiji dictator - The Australian (like The Fiji Times, owned by News Corp)
- Fiji 'govt' has no concept of media freedom: Hannah - The Australian
- Fiji government threatens media crackdown
- Publisher 'permanently' banned from Fiji
- Freedom carries responsibility