Sunday, February 8, 2009

News Ltd innovator to take helm at Fiji Times

ANNE FUSSELL is taking over as publisher and managing director at the Fiji Times. This is good news for the champions of a better gender deal in the local media - she will be the first woman at the helm of the country's major daily newspaper and arguably most influential news organisation. But she is also both an innovator and well-experienced as a sub on a variety of publications, having worked with Britain's Daily Star and The Sun. Back in Brisbane her career included the Courier-Mail and picking up a Walkley Award (1992) for best use of the newspaper medium for journalism with the special report "Creating the future". Her most recent News Ltd executive role has been as group intellectual property manager.

She replaces Rex Gardner, who was kicked out by the military-backed regime last month in fallout from the contempt affair. Two other Australian executives were deported last year - the Fiji Sun's Russell Hunter in February and the Fiji Times' Evan Hannah in May. News Ltd chairman and chief executive John Hartigan pledged his company's commitment to the Fiji Times group: "[The papers] will remain free and independent publications." But not everybody in Fiji agrees with the move. Some are questioning the need for expat publishers in the first place. Laminar-Flow's Stuck in Fiji M.u.d blog had this to say in a scathing posting (mostly about the Pacific Islands Forum circus in Port Moresby):

The question of how and why - despite 120 years of existence - the Fiji Times still can't produce or employ any local publisher, comic strip series or independent columnist, or separate Sport/ Editorial/Opinion is now an alarming question, considering the circumstances. Such are questions that have been avoided, by the local media's coverage of the deportation of foreign citizens. One of the most poignant questions asked among local journalists: Aren't Fiji citizens capable or qualified enough to be employed as the Fiji Times publisher?

It is quite alarming that
Fiji Times [has] had an alarming over reliance on foreign citizens, employed as publishers, taking the job away from any local prospect. An outrageous policy that equates with, a distinct non-compliance of localisation of vacant positions. If there were rules for local content in published comic strips, most print publication in Fiji would be audited as a complete and abject failure ...

Or was the omni-presence of Australian citizens employed in the local media
agencies throughout the Pacific region, an extension of these reoccurring themes
of embedded journalist/intelligence agent programs?


Anonymous said...

Laminar Flow's questions about reliance on foreign expertise are pertinent ... but perhaps a little misdirected.

The question is perhaps less one of the publisher's citizenship and more one of the ownership of the publication.

If the company is 100% foreign-owned, why should the owners not run it themselves, or appoint someone of their choosing to run the business to their liking?

If you don't like the foreign expertise, do something about the foreign ownership.

Anonymous said...

In response to the anon#1 about the misdirection of those pertinent questions, may be perceived as such, if you're the target.

Ownership of companies in Fiji is a convenient red herring. Fiji has many foreign companies and have employed locals as the CEO/GM etc.

So what makes Fiji Times Ltd. any different?

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