Sophie Foster's Censorship Survey and How Bainimarama Could Lose the Match
Sophie is the Deputy Editor of The Fiji Times, the most anti-Government and most heavily censored paper. Every journalist in Fiji knows Sophie and her opinions on censorship. From my own Fiji research experience, I know that who asks the question influences answers. Sophie's survey results are therefore highly suspect. But I'm prepared to accept her 100% because the statistic is meaningless. In today's Fiji I would expect most journalists -- or their colleagues -- to have experienced censorship. [ Photo:Sitiveni Sivivatu photo Fiji Times. Read on to see its relevance.]
Sophie's findings on what sort of articles journalists thought were more, or less, likely to be censored was more interesting. But even then, my primary concern, as I stated in an earlier post, is not with how clumsy and often unnecessary censorhip impacts on the public's "right to know" (that, incidentally, the media and not the public decides) or on "media freedom" per se, but on how censorship (and the self-censorship that will no doubt follow the lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations) will impact on the Government's Roadmap. Short of major derailment by "hostile" forces, the Roadmap holds the key to Fiji's future and, for those sitting in the Government's camp, it is the Roadmap that has to be protected, whatever the costs.
But the most important steps in the Roadmap will not be achieved without the co-operation of the media. Government has to bring the media on board if the attitudinal changes needed to achieve the Roadmap are to be achieved.
And the only way to achieve this is to ensure those that implementing the Media Decree are intelligent, honest and respected people who will not allow Fiji to return to the media's previous abuse of media freedom or allow Government to impose measures inconsistent with its plans for a more democratic Fiji.
A hard ask, perhaps, but we shall be watching the appointees closely. In the months and years to come, Government has to ease up on critical dissent and accept that much of it is needed and well intended. Not everyone in the team is a frontrow forward. There's a place for others with other skills. If they are not used, the final score will be Government 8 (from a penalty and a try); Qarase HasBeens 10 (from a penalty and a converted try). Bainimarama's failure to land a drop kick just before half-time lost the match.
Notice: There will be more extensive coverage on censorship and the draft Media Decree tomorrow Saturday. If you don't have access to a computer over the weekend, be sure to check the postings next week. Older postings tend to be buried by more recent ones.