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Fijim media has way to go before it can ‘report fairly’ on election

May 13, 2014

Fiji’s Press Freedom Day: self-censorship continues

 

 

By Professor Wadan Narsey

 

As part of the World Press Freedom Day celebrations, the USP School of Journalism (headed by Pat Craddock) held a Panel Discussion at USP on Friday 2 May 2014, to discuss the topic “Media Freedom and the Fiji General Election”.
This certainly was progress of sorts in Fiji, in the run-up to the elections planned for September.  But who would have thought that the media reports on the panel discussion would themselves illustrate very clearly how self-censorship continues in Fiji, quite contrary to the MIDA Chairman’s guarantee of protection of the media?
Panelists included Ricardo Morris (publisher of the Republika), Seona Smiles (former Fiji Times senior reporter),  Netani Rika (former editor of Fiji Times), Rachna Lal (senior journalist from Fiji Sun), and Ashwin Raj, Chairman of the Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA).

 

PANEL CHAIR: Stanley Simpson at centre.

The chairperson of the panel was Stanley Simpson, former journalist and a former graduate of the USP Journalism program.

 

 

 

Quite interesting for journalists and media outlets was the MIDA Chairman’s declaration that he would protect journalists who remained true to their journalism ethics and reported freely without fear or favor.
Mr Ashwin Raj came across as honestly and earnestly attempting to fulfill his duties to the best of his ability,  under the existing media laws.
But the self-censored reporting of Fiji’s Press Freedom Day also showed that the media editors simply do not believe the assertion by the Chairman of MIDA that he would protect them if they reported fearlessly and fairly.
Critical views censored

 

Despite the MIDA Chairman’s statements that he would protect the media, the newspapers and television gave very little coverage to some of the more sensitive and critical views of the panelists.

 

Neither did they give any coverage to the four critical questions of a professor  (who has written extensively on media censorship in Fiji) who tried to focus the panel on the topic they had been given- the role of the media in the coming elections:

 

source – c4.5, Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

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