FIJI news media seem so banal these days, deprived of their usual gutsy, punchy and lively political stories and debate. Sport has taken over on many front pages. “Gateway” Fijilive – the website that took the world by storm during the George Speight coup in May 2000 – offers headline stories such as hotel bank loans may be linked to local and environmental value, a downtown jewellery theft in Suva and five being held over a murder. But the global scare of the moment on swine flu virus has an impact here too. The odd story like defence chief Ratu Epeli Ganilau being in Tonga (he says the military doesn’t need downsizing) for a regional “security” strategic meeting gets a run. And, of course, a chief headline on Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and his top brass getting gongs for “services to humanity”. A handful of international journalists and some are doing a fine job on the ground - Philippa Tolley of Radio NZ for example. In a Listener article this week, entitled "Sticking to his guns," Rebecca Macfie asks while Bainimarama says he wants a racially fairer electoral system, "are his more self-serving motives catching up with him?"
The regime plans to review the martial law parameters now that the country has endured two weeks of censorship. Hopefully the decrees will be relaxed.
Café Pacific notes a couple of recently posted stories on why many Fiji islanders are turning to the blogs again in droves in an effort to keep abreast of both factual info and the rumours. More fact-based blogs, like Coup Four And A Half have emerged and Croz Walsh’s Fiji continues to do a fine job on analysis (he has just posted a scathing condemnation of TVNZ's Lisa Owen and her parachute beat-up about "civil unrest"). Former Fiji Broadcasting Corporation chief executive Sireli Kini is quoted in the David Brooks story on blogs for AFP as saying:
It's human instinct, people want to know what's happening and when somebody spreads a rumour it spreads like wildfire and it's very destructive… [The blogs] have taken over the role of the conventional journalism by informing the members of the public.In another article, Pacific Media Centre’s David Robie wraps up the state up of play with the crisis. While the local media remain gagged, more international journalists have filtered in –providing they were” approved” by not being in the regime’s bad books (ie. filing earlier stories that annoyed the military and/or some of its civilian henchmen). He notes that the media have become rather muted, but not for long. He has spoken on the creativity and adaptability of Fiji journalists and opined that they would find other ways to dodge the gag.
Pictured: Colonel Mohammed Aziz (Chief of Staff), Prime Minister Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Commander Land Forces Colonel Pita Driti and Warrant Officer Semesa Leweni at Government House after receiving their awards. Photo: Fiji government portal