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David Robie finally shows his hand

Robie has been behind the smear campaign from the start and supports media repression in Fiji.

Vendetta journalism and counterpropaganda, ‘Fiji style’

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

http://cafepacific.blogspot.ca/2013/01/vendetta-journalism-and.html

IN RECENT weeks, the Fiji blogosphere has run hot over attempts by the ousted former head of journalism of the University of the South Pacific, Dr Marc Edge, a self-styled “counterpropagandist”, to portray himself as some kind of martyr for the Fiji media freedom cause. His claims peaked with an allegation that he “feared my safety was in jeopardy” in a curiously lop-sided Radio Australia interview with journalist Bruce Hill.

However, Café Pacific today exposes another side of the story. It had been an open secret for months at USP and in media education circles around the Pacific that Dr Edge was on the way out after the shortest tenure ever of any expatriate journalism coordinator – barely serving half of a three-year contract. He was dumped after sustained and embarrassing complaints by students, colleagues and media academics in at least two other Pacific Islands Forum countries. The situation had become untenable for the Canadian lecturer as he was perceived to be “waging war” on his students. Initially, he was “relieved”  of his position as acting head of journalism with a humiliating public statement by USP management on November 14  and then he was gone from the faculty staff by Christmas.

But there was no inkling of any of this in Bruce Hill’s Radio Australia interview on January 25. (Although Hill did ask Edge whether he had been dismissed or resigned and got a “no comment” reply). Nor did Hill put the obvious question to Edge about why he had used the Fiji Media Tribunal mechanism to file a controversial complaint against a local media organisation that he had been accusing of practising “self-censorship”  – conveniently using the very Media Industry Development Decree  he had been condemning for months. Edge blamed his demise at USP solely on the military-backed regime and Qorvis Communications, a US-based media spin company contracted to the Suva government, and ignored the journalism programme wreckage – his legacy:

It was pretty obvious to everybody who was following what happened that I was the subject of the government smear campaign through the propaganda arm, Qorvis Communications.

It became apparent after I started my blog that they weren’t very happy with some of the media analysis that I had up on Fiji Media Wars. And I received some complaints, some requests to take down a particular entry about Corbis Communications, which I did under protest. [Later reposted after he left Fiji.]

And the government subsequently complained about … a joke I told at an event [the USP journalism awards] and also a funny email that I forwarded to my students. So it got a bit ridiculous there …

On his own blog, just a month earlier on December 26, Edge claimed he had been “hounded out of Fiji”. Asking rhetorically: “Did I jump, or was I pushed?,” he answered:

“Let’s say it was a little bit of both. I was certainly pushed. To the Edge, you might say. In the end, I decided it would be better to make an orderly exit from Fiji than to be bundled off kicking and screaming under a deportation order.”

 He added:

“Unfortunately, this blog made things a little bit too hot for me with the country’s military dictatorship.”

Intervention by the regime, or not, Marc Edge was already teetering after stumbling from one internal crisis to the next at USP. He already had a long track record of tension within the journalism programme and many complaints from students, both formal and informal – particularly some of the senior team who recently won a best student newspaper double award for their publication Wansolwara at the Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA) awards in Melbourne. Many of their gripes about “bullying” and “bizarre” behaviour were posted on social media sites.

Visiting media academics at a Media and Democracy in the South Pacific conference hosted by USP last September also encountered tensions simmering below the surface that boiled over at least twice in the plenary sessions. Critics say there was a widespread view that Dr Edge had lost the confidence of many of his students and staff and was “self-destructing”, as some put it. An internal inquiry was launched.

Café Pacific understands that the general view among many academic and allied staff included criticisms such as:

  • An attack on local media, accusing them of self-censorship, particularly Fiji Communications Ltd’s award-winning Vijay Narayan and his team. When Narayan challenged Edge both on FijiVillage.com, reporting that the lecturer admitted he had “no evidence”, and in a phonecall, Edge filed a complaint with the very same Fiji Media Tribunal established by the regime that he had been castigating for months.“He claims to be standing for media freedom and democracy,” said one Fiji media insider in an email to Café Pacific. “Looks like he doesn’t understand terms. Or is he a hypocrite pretending to fight for media freedom while using the MDA [Media Development Authority] when it suits him?” He also threatened defamation lawsuits against a prominent Fiji journalist and the Fiji Sun newspaper while championing a “free press”. (For the record, Café Pacific has written about censorship and self-censorship in Fiji frequently in the past).
  • Edge’s alleged lack of knowledge of the Pacific and cross-cultural and linguistic contexts such as in the Francophone Pacific. Also, his denial of a Pacific media culture. Colleagues said he came to Fiji with a “superior attitude” and who believed he “knew better than the locals”.
  • Undermining of the unique “Pacific-based” USP regional programme by dumping a growing literature of Pacific textbooks and course materials and substituting American and Australian books. Edge claimed he was raising standards to an “international” level, but in fact the programme became demoralised and plunged to a lower standard under his brief tenure (USP journalism had won some 16 international awards before Dr Edge arrived). One senior staff member said after Edge’s departure: “We’re looking forward to new beginnings this year, I’m certain we will be able to heal and reconnect with all our stakeholders.”
  • “Revenge” attacks on part-time regime media consultant Graham Davis, a Fiji-born television journalist and blogger, and retired former USP professor Crosbie Walsh, who both publish insightful blogs (Grubsheet Feejee and Croz Walsh’s Fiji) flattering  the military-backed regime after both wrote columns exposing the truth at USP. Edge obsessively blames the pair for his departure.
  • The Marc Edge attacks continued on an anti-regime blog, Fiji Today’s Open Forum, which claims to support free speech, yet editor “Peter Firkin” gave Edge unparalleled “editing” rights to censor anything he didn’t like (claiming “defamation”).
  • Attacks on media colleagues and other academics around the Pacific region with whom Edge clashed: “No one in the Fiji media wanted anything to do with him. He wrecked relationships built up by USP journalism over many years.”
  • Misrepresenting media academics and journalists and their views in the region. And now the latest misrepresentation is on the nature of his demise at USP itself: “Marc sits in Canada rewriting the history of all of this for his own benefit,” one regional media critic notes. “He is creating both the vehicle (RA and Bruce Hill) and the narrative (blame Qorvis/Davis) to build his case that he was drummed out of Fiji for being a regime opponent. He will quote all of this to add lustre and a veneer of believability to whatever account he eventually writes.”

Marc Edge insists Fiji media research will remain an “interest of mine wherever I wind up teaching next – and I have ideas for several journal articles, not to mention the promised book, which will be titled Fiji Media Wars: The Story of a Blog”. But Café Pacific suggests USP’s recent Media Freedom video will probably be more useful – and far more credible.

 

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24 thoughts on “David Robie finally shows his hand

  1. “He was dumped after sustained and embarrassing complaints by students, colleagues and media academics in at least two other Pacific Islands Forum countries”

    Well who can blame Marc, with the bombardment of complaints against him it is understandable why Marc has opted to be negative.

    Imagine having to teach imbeciles, it would literally drive a sane person to take drastic steps to combat such lunacy.

    As for Marc he ought to know acknowledge the fact by accepting that position was to be his own undoing.

    One has a better chance of teaching monkeys how to speak than attempt to impart knowledge to humans.

  2. Agree with @Julumbaat … I also question the USP media culture at this point in time.

    I work at the University and am saddened to say there is definitely a culture of brown nosing to the regime – our yearly budgets after all depend on the regime’s altruism.

    Also why doesn’t Robie’s article mention that there are a whole lot of students extremely happy with Dr Edge’s work and the values and ethics he promoted whilst at the programme?

    From where we sit, all we can see of it , is a a small section of lazy disgruntled students that resented being failed or marked down for not completing assignments on time, not stepping up to a whole new way of holistic journalism and standards of debate, and students not being able to accept criticism.

    Students happy with chinese-whispers back-stabbing methods of accusations. Very cowardly.

    Students that were all too willing to accept the University’s pro-regime definition of journalism that works hand-in-hand with government. (Doesn’t auger well for the future of journo standards in Fiji)

    Students happy to self-censor – it’s easier, than to stick your nose out and get fined or god forbid imprisoned . Some of these students for all their bravado wouldn’t last 2 secs in a police station being questioned.

    Students happy to step away from accepting the traditional media role of societal watch-dog for injustices and wrongs perpetrated by authority .

    Also please pray tell why is Robie involved in all this – couldn’t let go ay ? Why is he poking his nose in a domain that was not his to poke his nose in ?

    Or is it because he and Dr Edge have a difference in philosophy ? If so, I would welcome Robie’s explanation as to why he vehemently disagrees with Dr Edge.

    Ditto Davis – does Graham Davis covert this job at the University ? Perhaps he does, especially as his options for being employed as a journo of any worth these days is numbered – dare I say.

  3. Marc Edge is a person of courage and integrity. It is understandable that a junta slurper like Robie would oppose him? Lik the whore from horowehnua – robie is a hasbeen nothing.

  4. marc edge was booted out of USP because people in atleast two Pacific Island Forum countries bitched about him
    how many countries make up the USP community?

  5. ROFLMAO. How bizarre.

    Those who know Robie’s history in Fiji will know that at one time he was the sworn enemy of Peter Lomas and PINA and my, my, my how the tables have turned in the name of ‘independence’.

    Prof Edge these pretend journalists coloured by money that they do not deserve have got nothing on you. Keep rattling their cages.

  6. Ha ha ha he he. What’s wrong with Fiji Today??? Does Marc Edge run this bloody site? So the only professor of journalism in the region comes out and finally blows the whistle on this idiot. But he gets to do the posting? Edge, your time is up arsehole. The whole of USP is about to dump on you and it’s going to be so much fun.

  7. Just wait till we get the inside story of ME harassing certain female staffers. You fans of his will be gagging on your words of praise.

  8. FijiToday is currently under attack from an IP address in Auckland NZ Via Suva Fiji.

    219.89.221.17

    “The Project Honey Pot system has detected behavior from the IP address consistent with that of a mail server and dictionary attacker”

  9. January 31, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    Tapa Design : Air Pacific

    Everybody keep alert for application by “Air Pacific” for rights over the tapa design…so we can all strongly object to the receiver of that application on grounds of Taukei’s cultural, traditional and customary existing rights over the design adopted by the airline. We already have now and over the last centuries the use, and identity with the design….we have intellectual rights over the design and we will use it in anyway consistent with our welbeing, customs, tradition and practices. We have prior rights as a people.

    Air Pacific will regret if legally given rights to the design….we will mount negative campaigns worldwide to remind potential passengers that flying by Air Pacific is supporting the Airline in its cultural genocide on the i-Taukeis of Fiji.

  10. @ Time’s up Marc
    “Finally the bloody truth”
    what truth? that’s just an opinion piece by someone who actively dislikes Marc Edge for reasons best known to him.
    @ Hahahehe etc
    “… the whole of USP” you say…
    the whole of USP is about to turn into a cesspool of conformism to the diktats of the dictator. remember the fish rots from the head. and the head of USP is a rotter!

  11. given the recent beahaviour by the illegal PM towards Fr Barr, i would expect this to be the new benchmark and should also expect that everyone elses alleged behaviour should be held to no greater standard and the same excuses and explantions offered by coup-apolgists. Or are we continuing one rule for Interim PM, one for others.

  12. Journalism and the whole of Fiji media is “coloured by money”. It is a money game where money dictates the flavor of the news contents. All the media outlets are pandering to the regime just to get a piece of the cake. You will notice that all the news is about the regime and nothing about anything else. bai and iarse appear almost on a daily basis on the news and so do other regime members and supporters. Some particular outlets tend to give more attention and praise than others in a show of an ardent apologist. I get really tired and fed up of seeing and hearing the same old faces and voices. All in an effort to get government jobs and favors.

  13. I understand from my friends at USP that Professor Robie is really a professor. They say Dr Edge was never a professor but was happy to let other people call him that by mistake. He never corrected the error.
    What does that say about the ego of this man?
    My USP friends also hope Mr Shalen Singh, Ms Irene Manueli and Mr Sorariba Nash will also tell people what they really know about Dr Edge and what they think of his behaviour. Ms Manueli will have some very interesting stories to tell if she wants, they say.
    It all adds to all the information first provided by Graham Davis and the USP students.

  14. @Fijian at Heart .. what are you waiting for then ? Bring on the stories – we are intrigued. Don’t forget the evidence. No hearsay now .

  15. just for argument’s sake supposing marck edge did do something unbecoming of a university academic is that the first time ever in the university’s history that has happened?
    what is the real agenda in attacking marc edge?
    come clean all you “clean up” subscribers!

  16. Marc. You are predictable, repetitive and every so boring. You were dumped from the USP, disowned by your peers, ignored by your students and laughed upon by the regime. The real agenda here is not about fiji media or the regime, its about Edge trying to make himself relevant so he can make money off his book, so he can be popular, so he has something to do while he finds a job in Canada, its about personal fame and glory. And he is using all your suckers to promote himself and you all look stupid. He is using and manipulating the situation and putting more spin on his story than qorvis ever could. Wise up gang, the prick is sucking you all dry.

  17. Dear Ateva V: What was said was … Ms Manueli will have some very interesting stories to tell if she wants, they say.
    If you are really working at USP, as you say, I suggest you go and ask Ms Manueli direct.
    I also just saw this on Professor’s Robie’s blogsite …

    HARDLY SURPRISING that Dr Marc Edge, described in the Canadian news blog The Tyee as a journalism “professor” which he was certainly not in Fiji, should switch his smear blowtorch to Café Pacific publisher David Robie. Attack anybody to avoid being responsible for his own demise at the University of the South Pacific. With a quicklink to this blog’s article on Fiji Today, Edge added an introductory comment alleging:
    Robie has been behind the smear campaign from the start and supports media repression in Fiji.
    Robie replies:
    This laughable, paranoid and dishonest statement by Marc Edge is an example of why he has been such a joke in Pacific media education circles. For the record I have not been involved in any “smear campaign”, but I have certainly been campaigning on Pacific media freedom issues for more than the past two decades or so and I have been opposed to all military regimes. Being founding co-convenor of Pacific Media Watch in 1996; author of several books, including Mekim Nius on Pacific media politics in 2004; and co-author of the Pacific’s first regional media freedom report in 2011 are just among the many outputs. What has he contributed to the region other than being an armchair bleater?

  18. @Fijian at heart … please go ahead and let us all know what Ms Manueli has to say if it has any relevance to what you are trying to intimate, although I would much rather anyone that has anything to say about the matter say it directly themselves and produce thorough journalistic argument and evidence in regards to what they allege.

    Miss Manueli has not said anything to me and we meet often. Perhaps she will not as she knows my opinion on hearsay and gossip.

    It is still unclear why Robie has such a adverse reaction to Dr Edge’s journalism philosophy ?

    As for Robie being author of this book and that – what makes him such an expert on media affairs in the region ? He is not the only authority on media. There are a great many authors in the region, and in the bigger world on media . Media is media – it is the same conceptual animal around the world – it is one’s subscribed world view to it and to the roles one perceives it to play that will differ.

    To this end therefore, what makes Robie sit so differently in his armchair compared to the armchair that Dr Edge sits in ? They both have opinions , and there are other opinions out there always up for discussion.

    I look forward to your explanation (on Dr Robie’s behalf).

  19. @ Vegas
    “… laughed upon by the regime”!!!
    who gets laughed upon by the regime?
    not its sychophantic supporters even if they say shitty things.
    are you are sychophantic supporter of the regime?
    of course you are!
    it requires no special intelligence to figure that out.

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