How Free is the New Zealand Media?

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Media morass said…
None of this is remotely surprising, except perhaps the revelation that someone writing an editorial for the NZ Herald labours under the misapprehension that Fiji once enjoyed a one-man, one vote brand of democracy. This indicates that Kevin Hart may have holidayed in Fiji but certainly hasn't worked in the place as a journalist. Or maybe he didn't do his research. What comes through clearly in the account of this exchange is the regime's failure to get its message across to opinion makers in NZ and Australia. Some of these, like Hart, are have no real understanding of events beyond what they've been fed by anti-regime propagandists like Michael Field. Field has another piece in the papers today that continues his polemic against the regime, including assertions about the economy that he fails to support with any evidence. But what is Fiji doing about it? Aiyaz and Smith Johns can fulminate all they like about the foreign media not understanding events in Fiji. But I've yet to see any concerted effort on their part to turn the tide with a structured media program that addresses this - such as inviting key opinion makers to visit Fiji and allowing them the freedom to see things for themselves. Worse, decisions are constantly being made that fuel the fires of criticism abroad, like the counter-productive vendetta against the Fiji Times. Aiyaz is a lawyer, Smith Johns a marketer. Neither has any media nous or Fiji wouldn't keep shooting itself in the foot. There'd be a disciplined effort behind the scenes to build a positive image and head off bad publicity. Smith Johns, especially, seems to have no idea of how to manage the international media. Her comments to The Australian during the week that you have to live in Fiji to understand why the regime is right is a ludicrous proposition under the circumstances. She should be saying WHY the regime is right, not equating belief in Frank with belief in the Almighty. I haven't seen her once explain the crux of the regime's legitimacy in any of her contacts with the media - that for the first time in a quarter of a century, Fiji has a level playing field for all its citizens irrespective of race. I've also heard from a media friend in Australia that Smith Johns has a habit of not returning journalists' phone calls. A fatal flaw - if true - that ought to exclude her from being confirmed in the permanent secretary's job. There's no point in fulminating about the injustice of media bias and hoping it will go away. You have to pick up the phone and present at least a facade of sweet reason and openness. I know you've been saying this for a long time, Croz, but you're absolutely correct in saying that Fiji needs to present its case in a much smarter way to counter and perhaps re-educate the Kevin Harts of this world.
SOE said…
@ Media Morass

I wonder how 'smart' one needs to be to get across how deeply immured in corruption Fiji has been, is now and is likely to continue to be were we to have a reversion to the 'status quo ante': namely, a charade of democracy? It might well be a lot smarter to just get on with the job, admit there is a huge problem - a 'Cabal of Corruption' which extends throughout all levels of Fiji institutions and societies but most particularly in the Police Force. This does not mean that all Fiji Police Officers are corrupt or even completely incompetent: they are not. But they are being given an impossible task. Without stout and even heroic assistance from the Public, they cannot achieve too much. Hence the absolute necessity for the military to continue with its role.

The 'smart thing' is to insist that all the 'Media Morass' types get this clear once and for all: this level of corruption is more than a threat to the State and its very existence. It has the potential to bring the entire edifice down if not confronted with vigour and absolute determination. Rooting it out will be a monumental task that demands "ALL HANDS ON DECK". Can we achieve this? Not with outside critics performing the way they have and refusing us the critical assistance we need. Inside critics still sit on fences and profer arguments which have long outlasted any usefulness. Michael Field is a myopic moron with no 'cojones'. If he had, he would long ago have asked himself a few pertinent, searching questions and found out that he had been mistaken all along. But there is no time to be wasted on the likes of MF. It is tantamount to the foot-in-mouth assertion of the newly elected UK Defence Minister who suggested that everyone was wasting their time on a country (Afghanistan) still operating largely within the ambit of the feudal 13th century. So, may be it is but the risks it poses to the rest of the developed world are considerable and ever present, are they not? Similar risks exist within the South Pacfic Region: are some of us too smug and bemused to see them?
Imprimatur said…
How free is New Zealand's Media?

It is obviously NOT as free as that smart Mayor of Auckland who is full of good ideas as to how Fiji may profit from 2011 Rugby World Cup. That is the kind of friend Fiji needs and we wait with eager anticipation to hear a few more like him in New Zealand try to make up to Fiji for their poor showing in the past three and a half years.

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