According to Walsh, Crump rang him last night, saying he didn't want the blogger/commentator on any more on Nights programmes. Why? Apparently because Walsh "feels too strongly" on Fiji issues (why not? ... he lived there for more than eight years) and he "borders on the emotional" for this programme.
Crump added: "It's not what a lot of my colleagues want to hear." Take this as you wish. Three more planned programmes on nights for Walsh for June, September and November have been canned.
Crump (pictured right - Radio NZ image) reckons the Nights spot works best with "commentators" and Crosbie is seen as an "advocate". In fact, Walsh goes to great lengths to get some sort of balance in his blog commentaries, something sorely missing with many media commentators on Fiji. To be fair to Crump, he did invite Walsh to a symposium on Fiji later this year and, according to Walsh, was keen to interview him early next year.
From all reports, Walsh had an enthusiastic response to previous Nights programmes. This has got Café Pacific wondering, especially when it is considered how unbalanced both Radio New Zealand and Radio Australia frequently are on Fiji commentaries. Opponents of the regime regularly have a field day, but many commentators who try to provide a bit more depth into explaining the Fiji "revolution", as Auckland University's Centre for Pacific Studies political sociologist Dr Steven Ratuva described it last week, or are not sufficiently PC or are too "soft" on the regime, are sidelined.
A good example of this was a "stacked" Radio Australia feature by Bruce Hill marking the anniversary of the abrogation of the Fiji constitution one year on - four interviewees with a vested interest against the regime: Deported Fiji Sun publisher Russell Hunter - an Australian now living in Apia and is currently development editor of the Samoa Observer; an Australian judge, Ian Lloyd, who ruled against the regime; Australian National University professor Brij Lal - one of the three architects of the abrogated 1997 constitution; and Fiji Law Society president Dorsami Naidu versus Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum. Where was the independent commentator to balance this line-up?
[Fast forward: Since this item was posted, Café Pacific has been challenged by Bruce Hill. In fairness, Bruce is one of the best public affairs broadcasters on Pacific issues in the region and this item was not meant to malign him in any way. The posting objective was to question a general unbalanced trend with public broadcasters in both countries over Fiji. While the comments specifically addressed an online ABC feature, they should also have pointed out the wider retrospective historical basis for the on-air version of the feature. Read Bruce Hill's comments here. And more on the PC brigade here.]
Incidentally, this piece challenging "media freedom" in Fiji as peddled by the Suva media old guard, is likely to ruffle a few feathers. Highlighted on ABC's In The Loop is the University of the South Pacific's Shailendra Singh talking sense about the Fiji media. And tonight's Media 7 on digital TVNZ7 also features the media and the Pacific - from the blurb:
New Zealand television viewers were this week served up the first installment of the $200-million dollar drama series, The Pacific. But what about the real life dramas that are being played out in the Oceanic region and the millions of New Zealand dollars and other nations' foreign aid money that is spent to prop up various Pacific nations?
The reporting is patchy at best, given the shrinking budgets of mainstream media and the difficulties inherent in reporting from this sensitive region. News organisations are finding it hard to report Pacific issues and hold regional governments to account in the face of increasing media censorship and repression.
Some of the problems can be put down to a clash of cultures. But journalists and editors face a daunting task when reporting on the actions of a military dictatorship, a semi-feudal monarchy and a group of emerging nations where tribal and clan loyalties are often at odds with basic democratic rights.
Media 7 this week surveys the "media landscape" in the Pacific, featuring AUT's Dr David Robie, TVNZ Pacific affairs reporter Barbara Dreaver and former Dominion Post editor Tim Pankhurst, now chief executive of the Newspaper Publishers Association and a "fierce advocate" of media freedom in Fiji and the Pacific. Watch for the Media 7 programme here.