Thursday, May 22, 2014

 

Young journos speak out against media repression

As if to prove that not all Fiji journalists have been browbeaten into submission, a few brave young reporters have begun speaking out against the junta’s machinery of press repression, which even as it bullies and intimidates media organisations insists with a straight face that the country’s press is free. Yet the sourcing for these daring reports leaves much to be desired, which in turn leaves the writers open to recrimination from the regime. As far as the Ministry of Truth is concerned, after all, the press in Fiji is now officially free.

The student newspaper Wansolwara devoted most of its latest edition to press freedom issues following World Press Freedom Day earlier this month. The issue’s editor, Tevita Vuibau, stuck his neck out with a front-page story on the recent termination of Fiji TV reporter Anish Chand, and an editorial which called for the press in Fiji to play its proper role in the promised return of democracy there with September elections.

The problem is that his story did nothing to cast light on what actually happened to Chand, who was cashiered in what Vuibau described as “shadowy” circumstances. “It is understood company policies restrict Fiji TV management and Chand from commenting on his departure,” wrote Vuibau. “Allegations that Chand was sent home following a phone call from a high government office to Fiji TV also remain unsubstantiated. Attempts to acquire comments from the Ministry of Information on these allegations have proved futile.”

The story included not even an anonymous source testifying to what actually happened. What we are left with, in other words, is conjecture and innuendo. As has been well established, this is what the Fiji media are best at. Facts . . . not so much.
Vuibau, who is also a reporter for the Fiji Times, led his story off by writing that “former and working journalists maintain that an element of fear exists among reporters” as a result of whatever happened to Chand. A climate of fear has existed for years among Fijijournalists, however, so that is not news. It may well have been amped up by Chand’s departure and rumours which have been circulating about what led to it.

The problem is that Vuibau’s story establishes only what is NOT known. His editorial inside the issue made a heartfelt plea for the basic standards that anyone who appreciates good journalism hopes to some day see in Fiji’s media. “We want journalism to rise again, and to see an end to the era of the ‘churnalist’ – press release writers and other reporters in too much of a hurry or too anxious to ask real questions.” Yet while lamenting a truly lamentable state of affairs, it couched the situation in layers of qualification. “Fear, timidness and meekness – whether real or imagined – are assumed to be the rule by many media practitioners and observers in and out of Fiji, yet exceptions do exist.”
At about the same time that Vuibau was going to press with his non-exposé, Ricardo Morris was taking to the air to provide at least a bit of information, however unsourced. “It has been confirmed by various sources what transpired that led to Anish Chand’s departure from Fiji Television,” Morris told Radio New Zealand International’s Alex Perrottet. “Fiji Television are piloting a new political show in the lead-up to the general election, and there were vox pops that were brought in for the pilot show. The majority of the vox pops had people supporting Bainimarama, supporting the government, and supporting his proposed party.”So what we understand is that the suggestion from Anish Chand was that some attempt should be made to try and get alternative views, try and find people who hold different views and would go on camera with those views. And it is understood somebody at that meeting, or who heard about that meeting, then passed the message on and then a phone call was made from the Attorney General to the management of Fiji TV. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Morris, who has been RNZI’s correspondent in Suvafor some time now, also told Perrottet that he recently resigned under pressure as coordinator of the Cook Islands-based press advocacy group Pacific Freedom Forum. “I have become ineffective in the role of coordinator because of the pressures that have been brought to bear.” He did not identify who exerted the pressure, but told Perrottet that such pressures are brought to bear regularly on media outlets that are not pro-regime. “Probably the bigger media organisations like Fiji Television and Fiji TV, they come under inordinate pressure every day in all kinds of ways. And, you know, if there’s any kind of complaint about broadcast, pressure comes to bear on them from the management. And I think that’s the circumstances they’re operating under every day.” While not providing any concrete examples, Morris nonetheless bravely called out the regime for bullying Fijijournalists. “I think it’s got to be said that there are clear restrictions. Even if people don’t call out the emperor as having no clothes, I think it should be said, everyone knows that there are restrictions and that there are things that you can and cannot say.” Morris is also publisher of Repúblikamagazine, which similarly focused on press freedom in its May issue. “There exists much frustration, hate and a sense of being victimised for journalists to do their work without fear despite the strong stand by the Fiji Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) that those in the profession were free to report without any pressure,” wrote Kelvin Anthony.
The Masters of MIDA will doubtless not take kindly to Vuibau and Morris coming out and saying what everybody knows anyway. Their job is to create an image in the world’s mind that the media in Fiji have now been officially freed. Behind the scenes, on the other hand, they are wont to send out barbs to media whenever one dares to criticise the lack of press freedom in the country. Witness the memo that reportedly went out after the Pacific Freedom Forum protested MIDA’s clampdown on freelance journalists last October. “Media outlets, especially the editors, must explain the reasons for using the PFF article,” wrote MIDA Director Matai Akauola. “It does not mean that when you get both sides, you run the story. You have to check whether it’s accurate.”

This effectively sets up MIDA as a virtual Ministry of Truth, deciding what may and may not be reported by the nation’s press. Also witness how MIDA Chair Ashwin Raj went off on ABC reporter Sean Dorney for merely telling an interviewer in February that some delegates to the Pacific Islands News Association conference in Noumea felt the press in Fiji “wasn’t as free and open . . . as it should be.”

Unfortunately, the lack of sourcing for Vuibau’s article and Morris’ interview that call out the regime’s deception leave them wide open to retaliation, either under the Media Decree or otherwise. But perhaps the Masters of MIDA would be wiser to just let it alone, as to clamp down again now would be to prove the very point of critics.

Posted byMarc Edgeat1:19 PM

http://fijimediawars.blogspot.co.nz/

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22 thoughts on “

  1. Good on you Vuibau and Morris. People like you will breath life into Fiji citizens’ freedom and democracy…thanks we have you, Please be encouraged that hundreds if not thousands are with you in condemning the existing gang of suppressors, thieves, psychopaths, murderess, treasonists, and evil illegal gangs in Government.

  2. former school teacher Maika Bolatiki, now Managing Editor/News at Fiji Sun, who was convicted of indecent assault on 14-year-old- school girl!

    22/05/2014

    3 Comments

    Picture
    Bucalevu Secondary School, Taveuni: Bolatiki was convicted of indecently assaulting the 14-year-old school girl at this school
    “The complainant was a 14 year old school girl at the time of the incident. She was one of 18 students in a classroom sitting an examination. The appellant was supervising the examination. The complainant was sitting at a desk in the front row. She said that the appellant came and stood beside her on her left. She looked up and the appellant touched her breast with his left hand. She sat up and the accused slid his left hand down her stomach and right to her private part. He then rubbed her private part. He denied touching her breast or private parts…The learned Magistrate made a clear finding that he accepted the evidence of the complainant as truthful. An appellant Court would need very compelling and cogent reasons to interfere with that finding. There are no grounds to do so in this case…The appeal against conviction is dismissed”
    Justice Pain, Fiji High Court, September 1997

  3. What a shocker Bocitiki. You rascal…….what on earth came upon you ….you evil, unprincipled scoundrel. No wonder you are supporting Bhai..a criminal like you…birds of the same feathers flock together. And you think you should be an opinion maker for Fiji’s population in your paper……..you deserved to be dumped with waste into a landfill

  4. The press is completely free in Fiji. The Honourable Khaiyum has said so repeatedly. The judiciary is independent and pigs walk on their hind legs. Accept the facts of life and report good things about Khaiyum and his friends from the RFMF and nothing bad will ever come your way. And as far as our best reporter Bolatiki is concerned, it only shows that Khaiyum’s new world is a world of equal opportunity. Even a child molester deserves a second chance if he reports good things about Khaiyum.

  5. Out of the mouths of babes. These young journos have earned a place in the New Fiji.

    Vuibau and Morris. Your position is greatly admired.

  6. What we have here is another ‘journalist’ blaming anything other than their own incompetence at being able to produce an honest balanced article.

    If journalists in Fiji actually understood what they were writing about to enable them to question, balance and verify its content they would get a far better reputation. Instead the vast majority remain copyists.

  7. Thank you Anish Chand, Tevita Vuibau and Ricardo Morris for your courage in speaking out and telling the truth about Media Freedom in Fiji.

    Your courage will inspire others who are are for now afraid, to join you and speak the truth and help expose the ongoing hypocrisy within the Fiji media Industry with respect to free, fair and balanced reporting.

    We salute you and thank you

    Mick Beddoes
    Coordinator
    UFDF

  8. And thumbs down to William Parkingson of CFL and his ever boasting revenue; revenue gained from turning a blind eye to constructive and balanced reporting of our first class Regime Criminals

  9. Attar Singh resigns from union post
    Publish date/time: 23/05/2014 [17:07]

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    Unionist, Attar Singh has announced today that he will announce his political future tomorrow after he resigns as the General Secretary of the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions.

    Singh resigned as the General Secretary of the Communications Mining and General Workers Union today.

    He said they have come to the conclusion that political action is the only avenue available to them.

    There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.

    When Fijivillage questioned Attar Singh on the level of salary benefits that he will lose out on to move to politics, he first said that it was not about the package for him.

    When questioned again on his union package, he said that he sees no need to reveal the amount publicly.

  10. Why are they worried about Attar’s salary which he has earned, when they cannot do the same to Papa Pig who has not and does not deserve the salary he enjoys today.

  11. There are so many to thank. To God be the glory, great things He has done. Wansolwara, and all our young people of courage and wisdom, thank you. We were at USP sometime ago. We stood up against Rabuka’s coup. Now, we are so glad to see that USP has been resuscitated or resurrected again. Praise God. Praise God. and thank you our youths and leaders of Fiji tomorrow and the Pacific tomorrow. We are on track again, after some years in the wilderness. May God help Fiji. May God help us in the Pacific. Vinaka. Malo. Fafitai.

  12. It is time for these heathens to be hunted down and brought to justice.

  13. Perhaps Tomasi needs to get his god registered then he can have a say by voting.

    If he’s not going to register I doubt he’s interested in Fiji politics and is going to be of little help to the country and its people.

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