Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fiji honeymooners and headline grabbers


CROZ WALSH has picked up yet another example of media hypocrisy and bias relating to post-coup Fiji. This time an Australian Associated Press report about "honeymooners flocking to Fiji in spite of instability". And who should be the sole expert voice sought for comment? None other than "South Pacific specialist" Professor Brij Lal, a Canberra-based Fiji academic. Indeed, as a social historian yes. But couldn't the news agency also locate an economist or tourism industry specialist for balanced comment? The bias of the news item carried by Television New Zealand's website is quite marked. Read on for Croz Walsh's spin on this item:
Fiji has been picked as the best place in the world to honeymoon, after Hawaii and French Polynesia. They are apparently flocking to Fiji and overall tourist numbers are up. TVNZ reports that "this is despite the presence of a military regime which has been in power since a 2006 coup." Similar negative comment follows.

Then TVNZ ask "South Pacific specialist Professor Brij Lal" what he thought. Prof Lal is an historian who is yet to say one complimentary word about the Baininamara government. He lives in Australia. He has no specialist knowledge of tourism. And this shows. He said Fiji was a popular destination worldwide, thanks [among other things] to marketing of the bottle brand Fiji Water and Oprah Winfrey's visit. What utter .....! Fiji has been a popular tourist destination from Australia and NZ well before there was a Fiji Water brand or an Oprah Winfrey show.

This is not the first time NZTV and RNZI have sought inappropriate (but politically correct) information from Australian sources. Tourism is taught and researched in Fiji and almost all NZ universities. Why did our media not ask an expert in Fiji or New Zealand, rather than a person resident overseas with no tourism expertise? Someone with fewer negative vibes on Fiji?

One suspects these journalists have an address book of preferred sources. [Sorry, Brij. This is not a personal attack. Surely you'd agree there are more appropriate sources than you on this issue.] - Professor Crosbie Walsh on his Fiji: The way it was, is and can be blog
Picture: Fiji Honeymoons.com

1 comment:

Liu Muri said...

Lal is a brilliant writer and a celebrated historian of Fiji, especially on the indenture and Indians. His comments reflect the naivity and perhaps stupidity of TVNZ to pick a historian to comment on tourism. The fault or perhaps the oversight is as much of TVNZ as of Brij Lal whose comments were out of place. Fiji was popular for Australians and New Zealanders long before Fiji Water and Oprah Winfrey. As a historian, Lal should know this was rooted in history and the people of Australia and New Zealand will always have a soft spot for Fiji irrespective of how their respective politicians feel.

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