This Blog Practises Responsible Media Freedom: Reply to Critics

I think most people who read this blog would recognize my attempts at fairness and balance. A small number think I'm too tolerant of those making anti-government comments. Others have accused me of being a coup apologist.  They say I  label NZ media articles propaganda but do not label Fiji government publications similarly. They say I print only one side of the story, and block comments with which I disagree. This is not the case, as more a careful review of the blog would show.

This reply to these criticisms is based on the assumption that those making them are genuine in their beliefs and are not simply vociferous anti-government people taking opportunities to snipe at the "enemy."

Coup Apologist
The blog's political stance is neutral to pro-Government. I do not approve of coups or military-led governments but to move Fiji forward the de facto situation and de facto government must be accepted.  I believe the government prior to 2006 was very far from democratic; its leadership included prominent racists; it tolerated and perpetuated corruption, nepotism and gross inefficiencies from which a small number of people benefited, and from which ordinary people of all races did not. For the moment, I am prepared to give the Bainimarama government the benefit of the doubt. The government is doing some good things and I think it's gaining support for its institutional and infrastructural reforms.  How many PMs have toured the provinces, listened to the people, and made good on what they promise so quickly? How many PM's have kept civil servants on their toes? The People's Charter, a revised Constitution and electoral reform can point the way forward to a better Fiji for all. But I also have a number of concerns. I would like to see more citizen participation in decision-making, the dialogue process brought forward and made more inclusive, a free but responsible media, and more open discussion and acceptance of contrary public opinion. My primary purpose is to help positive outcomes in 2014.

NZ Media Propaganda
The foreign media has done a terrible job on Fiji.  It is far from informed or impartial. Its choice of news items, photos, news headings and most of its sources are deeply biased and anti-government. No news appears on the good things government is doing. On some issues, most recently the false and misleading coverage of the typhoid outbreak in Navosa, the "news" was factually wrong and was correctly labelled as propaganda. 

One Side of the Story
My blog uses many sources, inside and outside Fiji, to which I often add an explanation, comment or suggestion. More good news than bad is published about the Bainimarama government in order to restore the imbalance created by the foreign media. Where I disagree or feel uncomfortable about what the Bainmarama government is doing, I say so -- but always respectfully and, I hope, helpfully. The blog is read by many people outside Fiji and I aim to provide them with a better understanding of the political situation than they can get from the mainstream media or the anti-government blogs. I am not just writing for people in Fiji.

Blocking Comments
An important feature of this blog is its comment.  Until recently most were polite, well reasoned and helpful. Readers could comment directly on the blog without having the comment verified by me. Unfortunately, verification was recently introduced because anti-government people bombarded the blog with nonsensical "comments" aimed at destroying genuine exchanges of opinion. In some instances, they merely copied a long blog article and pasted it into Comments, cluttering up the web pages. 

I am committed to reasoned discussion and debate. This is why I spoke up strongly against Government blocking blogs and advised readers how to get around the blocks. Two weeks ago I started a companion blog, Na Sala Cava, which is entirely devoted to readers' opinions on questions about Fiji's future.

No politely worded, reasoned comment addressing issues important to Fiji has ever -- or will ever-- be blocked or deleted from these blog because I disagree with the opinions expressed,  unless the opinions are repetitive and add nothing to the discussion.  I welcome worthwhile comments from all parts of political spectrum and would like to see more of them.   Most comments are anonymous. Readers use pseudonyms and there is no way they can be traced.  This blog preaches and practises freedom of the press and responsible reporting. My critics should direct their criticism elsewhere.

P.S. For the past few days comments may appear to have been blocked but until today I have not had access to the internet.


Over and out said…
Self serving bunkum, Croz. You openly admit here to being a coup apologist, bizarrely admit to being imbalanced to "restore the imbalance created by the foreign media" and admit to filtering comments that don't meet your self imposed standards. And you call that "reasoned"? By resorting to censorship of any sort, you've forfeited your right to intellectual discourse. Believe me, this is going to be a very one sided debate from now on. And "O comments" is what you thoroughly deserve.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Over and out ... You have read into my remarks what you want to believe. I can do nothing about that.

But there is no way a reasonable person could call the conditions for making comments censorship. My conditions are similar to those of the overseas mainstream media, and they are far more permissive than most other blogs. These are the conditions:

Please use your NAME or PSEUDONYM to assist discussion.
Anonymous, impolite commments, and comments that attack the person and not the argument,or are irrelevant, repetitive or unhelpful to further discussion will be DELETED. All genuine comments, of whatever political persuasion, will be published if they follow these rules.could not possibly have said I censor comments.
Peter said…

I think any fairminded person would agree that you take considerable pains to be fair and balanced in your comments. Nor do I detect any latent self interest in what you write. In fact I think we can be grateful you have enough concern for truth to reason as you do about Fiji and attempt to pinpoint where Fiji's erstwhile friends might do better. More power to your elbow.
daucina said…
Well, well: "Over & Out" will be disappointed and frustrated.

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do"? (John Maynard Keynes - English born Economist).

"Over & Out" we must assume is out of Fiji and out of the loop. Did this person ever live in Fiji in the past twenty years or so? It must appear highly likely they did not. Or, they have a limited capacity to see that change has been essential in Fiji: without change the nation would have foundered. That was and still is self-evident.

So, log off "Over & Out" and make the most of your comfortable corner of the world - wherever that might be. We must move on and you will be left behind. The facts of the matter HAVE CHANGED: changed for the better.
sara'ssista said…
@cros. I am entirely happy to accept your defence. 'Fair and balanced' is always in the eye of the beholder. What would appreciate as well as the reporting of positives is the continual re-affirmation of those principles that you apparently hold dear, those of freedom of oppression, threats and violence, democracy,the right of assembly and freedom of expression without a government censor. There need not b a continual referral to the reality and the implication that this coup was the only way to find a better solution or constitutional change. I am wiling to accept that good may come from this regime,HOWEVER, thee must be a consequence to this coup culture and the first step is too hold all those accountable..if Qarase and his lot spend time in gaol too...good i could care less.This ends a being a very political discussion of 'yes we're bad... but the they were worse', is that the best hat we can expect???
Walker Texas Ranger said…

"Could I care less?"........that is the very attitude/mind set that brought Fiji to its very knees. You must see that, surely? No principles are worth a sou if they fail to be underpinned by honesty and good faith in execution. Did the French Revolution give way to the French constitution? Including The Terror...? Well, it did and that is history. Whether we like it or not, that is the history of the United States of America, Russia and yes, China (although their Constitution is evolving along different lines - to date). Change is painful: corruption without change is TERMINAL.

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