Murdoch's News Ltd Wages Hostile War on Fiji

 Government Press Release 2010 No: 1304/MOI/

“News Limited, which owns the Fiji Times, continues to wage a hostile media campaign against Fiji, this time directly targeting the nation’s tourism industry and economy”.

This comment was made by the Permanent Secretary for Information, Ms Sharon Smith-Johns in response to articles on Fiji published recently in News Ltd owned newspapers.

“In recent weeks, News Ltd newspapers have published numerous articles on Fiji, all of which perpetrate negativity about Fiji.” 

Ms Smith-Johns said, “It begs the question that most in Fiji are asking. Is the Australian Government using News Limited as a tool to punish Fiji and cripple our economy? These stories are so unbalanced it boils down to nothing but propaganda”.  

“They have embarked on a campaign to manipulate the facts and news to hurt the people of Fiji but we are also taking action through the proper channels and using whatever means is at our disposal.”  

In response to these, the Ministry has written formal letters of complaint about these inaccurate reports, which have been copied to the relevant bodies for their necessary action.
In one article titled ‘Australian tourists turn a blind eye as Fiji’s best people are persecuted’, the Courier Mail which is a News Ltd paper reported “It should be a source of profound shame to our country that Australians are going on holidays to Fiji in record numbers”. The article was penned by Rory Gibson, a former editor-in-chief of the Fiji Times. 

In an article published in The Independent Newspaper titled ‘Pirate radio tries to beat repression in paradise’, the writer Roger Maynard reports “In recent years, faced with eviction from their Fijian-owned farms after their leases expired, thousands of Indians have sought refuge overseas while many of those unable to leave have ended up in squatter camps and that many thousands of Fijians are forced to live in the squatter camps around the capital, Suva.”

Says Ms Smith-Johns, “I have little doubt Roger Maynard has never been to Suva or Fiji as his perception of events is divorced from the realities on the ground.” 

“News Ltd is advising Australians not to come to Fiji. Well here is a message for Australians - don’t read News Ltd newspapers! I certainly wouldn’t want to subscribe to a paper that openly supports and encourages the practice of racial discrimination and one which is trying to cripple the people of Fiji financially”.  

Rory Gibson’s article goes on to say “It is appalling, that we are directing our dollars to the coffers of a nation that is run by a military dictatorship little better than any apartheid regime operating in South Africa’s dark ages.”

The Permanent Secretary for Information, who is an Australian, challenged the media company to provide evidence that what is currently happening in Fiji is comparable to “South Africa’s dark ages”.

More than 45,000 Australians visited Fiji in May alone and over the last 12 months an average 10,000 Australians have been visiting Fiji.

“In fact, visitor arrivals from throughout the world continue to increase and the Tourism Industry is expecting to hit 600,000 visitors by the end of the year – a figure which is set to rewrite the record books” Ms Smith-Johns said. 

“Fiji has also been ranked alongside Bali and Malaysia as among the most popular destinations for Australians looking to buy international properties as investments and vacation getaways,” she added.

“It’s a pity as many people in Australia depend on news media for a balanced view of what's going on. They certainly don’t get that from these inaccurate stories on Fiji published by News Ltd and others,” she said.


What is she saying? said…
Is sharon smith johns suggesting that the escalating situation between the military junta and those wanting Fiji to return to democracy and freedom is 'war'?
Is so, I'm not sure her comments are in the best interests of Fiji and its people?
As an Australian I am appalled that 4 years on from yet another military coup Fiji is in the state it is in and still remains under control of military by the PER. As a dear Fijian friend said to me this morning - she did not vote for this junta, and she certainly had no say in some coup supporting palagi speaking on her behalf and using terms such as 'war'!
Don't let the facts spoil a good yarn said…
Croz, what isn't widely know is that Adi Imrana Tuisolia-Marcos and Rory Gibson are old friends from his period at the Fiji Times and regularly get together on her frequent trips to Brisbane to visit her parents and sisters. This whole story arises from the fact that Imrana is now free to leave Fiji and take up her job in the Philippines but her husband cannot because of the remaining charge against him. It's the old tactic of finding a sympathetic journalist ( in this case a mate ) and trying to whip up a storm of publicity alleging "persecution" to try to force the regime to let him go. Gibson even urges the courts to immediately drop the charge against Saki, something that hardly fits well with the glamorous couple's constant calls for an independent judiciary and return to the rule of law. What's really distasteful about Gibson's piece is that he knows Imrana has been able to leave Fiji and take up a job in the Philippines but doesn't mention it anywhere in the story. He can't plead ignorance because his beloved Fiji Times reported her appointment to the ADB on August the 11th, nearly two weeks before his own article. So much for journalistic ethics. The fact that both these people have been willing to jeopardise the jobs of thousands of ordinary people in Fiji by advocating a tourist boycott really says it all. The Pathan princess has shown beyond doubt that she doesn't care about anyone but herself and those around her and all her talk about democracy masks an individual who is totally self obsessed. On this performance, Fiji is better off without Adi Tuisolia-Marcos, not to mention News Limited journalists willing to use their papers to advance the personal agendas of their opportunistic mates.
Propoganda? said…
Isn't it ironic to see our our (Australian-born) PS of Information dare to refer to someone else's propaganda as being bad?

I will be the last person in the world to argue that News Corp is balanced but they at least allow the voice of opposition, don't they? I believe Fiji needs to stop the paranoia and start focusing on what matters.
. said…
@ What is ... She's saying the articles are deeply biased and could impact negatively on tourism which employs many thousands of Fiji citizens.

One looks to the mainstream media for information, balance and objectivity but with almost all News Ltd articles (and indeed most other foreign media reports) on Fiji, this has generally not been the case. Rory's piece is hyperbole, not journalism as I know it.

This is not about whether you or I support or oppose the 2006; it's about trying to understand the situation and help it move forward for the benefit of all Fiji citizens.

One paper not owned by Murdoch, unfortunately said…
Sharon Smith- Johns is right. Roger Maynard didn't visit Fiji for this story, merely rehashed Mark Day's piece on the radio pirate ship from The Australian a few weeks back. But she's far from right to link his story to an anti-Fiji campaign by News Limited because the newspaper in which it appeared - Britain's Independent - isn't owned by Rupert Murdoch at all. It's actually owned by a Russian billionaire, Alexander Lebedev. So Smith-Johns needs to check her facts as much as the journalists she complains about. British-born Maynard is the Sydney based correspondent for a string of international media outlets, including The Independent. It's also wrong to say that he hasn't visited Fiji. He was South Pacific correspondent for The Times of London for many years and covered the 2000 Speight coup, among other things, so knows the country pretty well. For all that, this was a pathetic rehash of an old story. The pirates of the SDL have got as much chance of getting this venture off the ground as I've got of winning $5-million in tonight's lottery. Even if they get their boat in place, they're no match for the Fiji Navy and are destined for Davey Jones Locker if they proceed with this fantasy.
hyperbole said…
Yes Croz the article is "hyperbole". Very similar to the very "hyperbole" we get to read everyday in the Fiji media now otherwise known as military prodaganda.

Now that all critical comment has beeb removed from the media in Fiji I rarely see you critise the Fiji media...or the government that support the silencing of the media in Fiji.
Fiji needs to help itself said…
The real change in Fiji will come when Fiji starts to help itself. It's very hard to see that happening with the war of words between Australia and Fiji.

Fiji would do well to remember that comments in papers are no the comments of government and stop linking the two. Thankfully the Australian government (unlike the Fiji government) have no power to change/stop/ban or rewrite articles in Australia. We call this media freedom. I know the PM despises it and would prefer the Singapore or better still China way.

Why doesn't Fiji stop blaming everyone else. Stop the war of words and start concentrating on doing what it promised it would do.
It’s difficult arguing anything from here… said…
The problem with even the best arguments from the likes of Sharon on shabby media reports from Australia is this Fiji regime still has very little credibility. They have reneged on major promises, failed to live up to the standards they set themselves and as time goes by few believe there are intentions are as noble as they would have us believe. Lets look at a couple of her comments :

“Is the Australian Government using News Limited as a tool to punish Fiji and cripple our economy? These stories are so unbalanced it boils down to nothing but propaganda”.

Sharon is Fiji’s chief propaganda officer for Fiji. She should certainly recognize propaganda when she sees it. A PER and media decree ensure the propaganda and little else gets reported in Fiji.

“They have embarked on a campaign to manipulate the facts and news to hurt the people of Fiji but we are also taking action through the proper channels and using whatever means is at our disposal.”

The Fiji government constantly try to manipulate facts. Things like “the presidents mandate”, “we where forced to take over government” and “we respect the rule of law”.

“News Ltd is advising Australians not to come to Fiji. Well here is a message for Australians - don’t read News Ltd newspapers! I certainly wouldn’t want to subscribe to a paper that openly supports and encourages the practice of racial discrimination and one which is trying to cripple the people of Fiji financially”.

Careful now Sharon, you seem to forget that News Ltd carries much of the articles needed to promote tourism. Check out the many lifestyle pieces on various resorts in Fiji that promotes Fiji tourism yes some are advertorial but on balance they promote tourism

“It’s a pity as many people in Australia depend on news media for a balanced view of what's going on. They certainly don’t get that from these inaccurate stories on Fiji published by News Ltd and others,”

Where should they turn to then - Fiji's censored media perhaps ?

Sharon should try and influence things in her adopted backyard first.
Anonymous said…
The fiji government is starting to remind me a very much of Fiji Unions. Much ore interested in the fight than the outcome. Lots of verbal hot air and little action. More concern for ego than prgress.

What does Fiji really expect to achieve by the continued verbal attack on Australia ? Any one would think they actually want less tourists and less investments.
Tweedle Dum said…

The Fiji Times allows the voice of opposition? Yes? Since when? Opposition how? It has strenuously refused to accept some letters or articles opposing its lop-sided views and 'take' on the world. Much more interested in promoting the personal and/or business interests of board members or of past political beneficiaries.....still. The continued refusal to insist on by-lines and to attribute opinion in a scrupulous and accountable way reveals it still to be deeply chagrined. Can they yet pull a rabbit out of the hat?
. said…
I suggest these comments are read in conjunction with those on the previous post where I also attacked Rory Gibson's article.

But four new points:
1. What some people see as Sharon and Fiji attacking Australia is seen by others as Fiji responding to Australian attacks on Fiji.
2. Lack of press freedom and objectivity in Fiji is no excuse for the misuse of media freedom in Australia. Two wrongs do not make one right. But the nature of the attacks shows why the Fiji Government is not enthused about this sort of freedom in Fiji.
3. Bias is not simply a different view. Bias is the deliberate selection of information, and rejection of all contrary information, to make a political stance that is inherently untrue.
4. The argument that this or that would not happen in Australia is neither here nor there. The situation in the two countries was, and is, totally different. Each country and situation must be seen in the context of its own history.
goodby anon said…
Croz - well at least your bloggers are listening. Hardly an anon to be seen today.

If only the military where as good at listening and responding in a timely manner.

We live in hope.
I said said…
Croz - agree two wrongs don't make a right but Fiji would so well to start putting a few things right at home and spend less time critising everyone abroad.

Fiji has to accept it is A MILITARY DICTATORSHIP. Fiji has to accept it has squashed PERSONAL AND MEDIA FREEDOM. Therefore they are going to cop a lot of negative comments from around the world. The only way to avoid this is to take steps to move away from BEING A MILITARY DITATORSHIP but unfortunately they have decided they don't want to do this (at least not until 2014) and that A MILITARY DICTATORSHIP suits them just fine. They are laregly enjoying the power and privilages so why change ?
Fiji fair ? said…
Croz surely you are not suggesting Fiji's media or governemnt is fair and balanced in it's comments ?
The Max said…
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out this campaign against Fiji by News Limited with the silent support of the Australian government. I'll spell it out in simple terms.

First, News Limited is getting back at the current government especially because the media decree will see the end of Murdoch-based print media in Fiji.

Second, the silent support of the Australian government was because their Pacific Plan (PACER Plus) is being stalled by Fiji. Without Fiji, PACER is nothing.

Third, Fiji is heading China's way in terms of trade. Most of the products Fiji import from Australia and New Zealand are made in China anyway especially the electronic products. Australia and New Zealand just add double the mark up on these products making it very expensive.

Overall, a self-reliant and prosperous Fiji economy undermines Australia and New Zealand's influence in the Pacific.
Go north said…
No worries max - go north! The faster you get there the better. But don't pretend you are speaking for the Fijian people - election or no election - this current abberation won't last long. We will be free again.
Proud fijian said…
Dont worry about it. Australians love Fiji. Australia and New Zealand business operators have a conference in Denarau this week.

Even John Howard was there.
Zuma's lips said…
Sharon Smith Jones is claiming that Fiji isn't the same as South Africa during the dark ages of apartheid.

The African National Congress fought for media freedom during the apartheid era. However, after 16 years in government, it wants to introduce a media tribunal to make the press more accountable.

Go figure...
sara'ssista said…
It aboslutely kills this regime that they can have no influence over other media outside fiji. And that it takes an australian to speak on their behalf, rather hysterically, and try to get their message accross, that message coming from a military regime. Good Luck with that.
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