Media Freedom? "Good News" from Fiji Times, Care for Elderly

MEDIA FREEDOM, ANTI-GOVT BLOGGER STYLE. ProGov, an anonymous reader, has left this comment on the post "The Theft, Wage Cuts, Chaudhry Takes on  Government...":

"Dear Croz, I feel it is time to comment on the sad state of blog sites reporting on news in Fiji. Whilst those that strongly oppose the current government cry ‘media freedom’ and condemn censorship their double standards amaze not only me but others that have attempted to comment on blog sites.

In the last week I have commented on several issues posted on Coup Four Point Five but none of the comments have been posted. All comments were worthy of posting and none contained the usual personal attacks that are found all over that site. However they chose not to post them. They seem to only give voice to those that are against the current government, so much for freedom of speech, perhaps they don’t want to hear the truth!

My other issue is the personal attacks that are now becoming popular again, derogatory remarks that have no bearing on the person or subject being written about, these are too numerous to mention.

I realize that you can do nothing about this, but it’s a worthy point to bring up to your readers, and perhaps highlight that there are many who wish to add comment on other blog sites but they simply will not be published." [Have other readers had similar experiences? If so, which blogs?]

MORE "GOOD NEWS" FROM NETANI RIKA. The Fiji Times Editor reports sugar production is well off target.  He points to less cane milled, more cane needed to produce a tonne of sugar, and low and uneven production between mills.  It seems certain 2010 will produce less cane, less efficiently than in previous years. Netani concludes, "In 2006 the FSC crushed 3.25million tonnes and the figure fell to 2.478million in 2007, 2.321 in 2008 and 2.246 in 2009. The number of tonnes of cane needed to produce a tonne of sugar was 10.4 in 2006 rising to 10.44 in 2007, 11.1 in 2008 and 13.4 in 2009.Sugar produced was 310,000 tonnes in 2006, 237,000 in 2007, 207,966 in 2008 and 167,611 in 2009." The Commissioner Western Joeli Cawaki  says much the same thing but he also points to the many things Government has tried to do to improve the situation.

Normally, your news would cause no raised eyebrows.  It is, after all, a statement of fact. But in the present Fiji situation, fact can be used to create the fiction that Government is responsible for all Fiji's woes. Netani, is this the only news the Fiji Times is willing to publish, or do the censors prevent you from publishing some good news?  I sympathise. You  are clearly struggling to maintain sales.  Hence the scintilating  article that tells your readers, "Fat men last longer in bed, while lean gym jocks are prone to premature ejaculation." How low can you go? The Fiji Times has until  September 28th to become 90% Fiji-owned, or close its doors. No wonder some say, not before time.

. Fiji will soon have a National Policy Framework for the Elderly that will provide a protection mechanism for the elderly to live their lives with dignity, care, self-fulfillment, independence and participation. And on September 24, the first sod will be turned for a special Seniors Park in Suva's Thurston Gardens. The project is being funded by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation in partnership with the Rotary Club of Suva and Suva City Council.

The Ministry’s media liaison officer, Anshoo Chandra, said that the park, the first of its kind, will be an ideal place for the elders to interact socially and participate in recreational activities. The park is designed so elders can spend their leisure time and enjoy the natural environment. “It will be the centre of attraction for our senior citizens and through this initiative we want to tell them that we care for them and we intend to improve their lives,” she said.


Martha said…

Fiji Today Site has taken to publishing all comments without moderation and the quality of comments has dropped so keep your control over your site<
Vale Netani Rika said…
Croz, Netani Rika is in his death throes as editor- in- chief of the Fiji Times, so some unravelling is to be expected. Whatever happens in two weeks, Rika's own fate is sealed. The Fiji Times will either close or pass to a local owner but either way Rika is toast. His position is utterly untenable and the first move of any local owner will be to sack the man responsible for a complete disaster, both for the FT's Australian owners and the nation as a whole. Rika himself will be taken care of by News Limited and will doubtless pop up at the Northern Territory News, the Cairns Post or some other News outpost. But if the paper closes, 180 other people will be on the street, along with a thousand more who depend on the FT for their livelihoods. How long will it take them to cotton on to who is ultimately responsible for their desperate predicament? Reckless, arrogant and unrelentingly self righteous, Rika will blame everyone but himself and especially Frank Bainimarama. But while he'll doubtless thrive as a guest speaker on the journalistic hero circuit, his career in Fiji is finished. The best hope right now is for Fiji Times board member Mahendra Patel to use his Motibhai empire as a takeover vehicle to save the paper. But even if that happens, he'll need to get rid of Rika pronto to rebuild his relationship with the government and get the Fiji Times back on an even keel. Keeping him on is not an option and Rika knows it. It's no coincidence that he's running stories about premature ejaculation as it gradually dawns on him that he's a thoroughly spent force himself. A sad ending for someone who once had such promise and a sobering lesson for the media generally that the power it wields in a democracy doesn't extend to tilting at dictators.
good quote said…
After reading the comment titled "Vale Netani Rika" I now understand what you mean by your quote for the week Sept 13. You are spot on.
Congratulations Netani for maintaining the principles of the free press and not in any way kow towing to dictators with guns. You will be remembered and respected throughout the free world for that.
Noqu Viti said…

Your blog is nothing but a rabid apology for an unelected regime in Fiji. I live in Fiji and we are suffering from the misrule and bad impact of the lunatic policies of this illegal regime. Yet you crow only about the niceties, in your untutored eyes, about this regime.

We're glad the military council is now waking up to the lies and corruption of this regime. Ask yourself this, why are all these FICAC cases being withdrawn, Ului Mara sent on leave and Khaiyum on notice for his shady dealings? Well let me tell you, the charges were trumped up in the first place and the military council have now seen the light of day.

I know this as I have close relatives in the military who are actively working from within to return Fiji to democratic rule where human rights are respected and citizens have the government of their choice. When that happens Croz, you better not set foot in my Fiji ok. Moce Kumal Vula.
Free world freebasing said…
Oi"good quote", are you for real? "Congratulations'll be remembered and respected throughout the free world". Now. who's really getting emotionally hot here, tau? Talk about hyperbolic overload!

A 141 year institution facing closure, hundreds of people facing unemployment and ruin, thousands of people without the paper of record they grew up with -yes, Netani Rika WILL be remembered alright. At best, a legend in his own lunchtime at the Fiji Club. But a beacon for the "free world"? Only in his head and yours, ulu kau.
PER said…
Just a few weeks to go. Do we expect the PM to lift the PER once FijiTimes are gone ? If he does not then every last bit of his credibility is gone. And I mean fully lift it not just tinker with it.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Radiolucas said…
The FT has been the only voice of sanity and measured reporting - the dive in Sugar production is not exactly "great news" for Fiji - it should be reported as bad news, because, well, it is.

Thank you FT for all your hard work and upholding your principles - even in the face of physical threats, coercion and finally, the threat to shut down the paper and blackball its employees. Sad but true, nothing to be proud of for anyone that seeks to or profess to uphold basic freedoms.
Imprimatur said…
@ good quote,,,

If respect throughout the 'free world' is deemed to depend upon reporting which has patently been:

Often factually incorrect

Abhorrent for its constant lack of balance

Tasteless, tacky and often crude and contemptuous of professional standards of journalism

Failed to promote ethical standards in leadership

Propelled an unfailing political agenda

Colluded in a programme to under-
mine the interests of overseas investors and of minority communities in Fiji through this same agenda.

Conflicted on almost every test other than that of self-interest. The interests of the Fiji Times as a corporate entity were not best served nor those of its employees, surely? Perhaps the interests of Rika himself were and those of his owner by their own estimation?

Hard to tell. But this is a story of how the arrogant and the self-proclaimed arbiters of dumbed-down Media Speak may wreak havoc with national aspirations for a better life. The profit motive driven to the exclusion of all else. National aspirations for sustained development coming off second best. All dressed up as 'democracy' and 'free speech' when the undermining of these very values was sought by another means?

All those around in 1869 when the Fiji Times first came into being will have been turning in their graves.

But on one count, this will not have been a total waste of time. For in the training of professional journalists hereafter, the path of the Fiji Times in Fiji from 1869 to the present day will serve as a salutary example of how not to serve the best interests of your fellow countrymen and women. Let us ensure that we learn from this experience in moving to a better place.
TheMax said…
@ good quote

The principle of a free press is not to manipulate their editorial to suit the political agenda of a certain political party, individual or to become a tool for revolutionary agendas that results in the overthrow of democratically elected governments. A free press should be impartial and disseminate information for public consumption that are factually correct and do not incite racial extremism using the cover of press freedom to hide its own political agendas and motives.

The Fiji Times has been guilty of gross manipulation of its editorial to suit certain political agendas. This has been seen ever since the first coup of 1987 when the Fiji Times played along to the racial extremism of that time to ensure a democratically elected government, the FLP, are kept out of government leadership.

In previous years before news Corp bought the FT, its editorial were always excellent and contributed sensibly to nation building etc. Right after News Corp took over, the FT editorial stance changed to one of manipulating news that kept the general population in a state of uneasy and suspicion against its own government. This eventually led to how the population reacted to the political upheaval the country faced.

The current government, with the watchful eye of the military council behind them, are correct to come up with a decree that ensures local ownership for all news organizations in Fiji. We need a new paradigm in Fiji and one that is all embracing of all the different cultures and ethnicity that Fiji have become.

We cannot be going to church every Sunday believing in a God of love yet come out into the streets and hate a fellow human being. We need to practice the love that we preach in churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc. That's why we need to have a new constitution and an electoral system that does not discriminate based on race.
Whistling into the wind said…
Croz, there's something touchingly naive about the PM's call to his new Australian counterpart, Julia Gillard, for a new start in the relationship between the two countries. I guess this is the diplomatic norm when someone fresh comes to power but talk about wishful thinking. Gillard has a majority of one vote in the parliament and is desperate to avoid anyone resigning, getting sick or dying and having a bye-election that would destroy her government. So when the man she deposed as Labor leader, the embittered Kevin Rudd, insisted on getting the foreign affairs portfolio, she had no choice but to give it to him. As the former incumbent, Stephen Smith, balefully explained it, he'd "taken one for the team" to maintain the government's stability. The problem for Fiji is that Kevin Rudd detests the regime and was the ultimate architect of the previous uncompromising stance. So any idea of a change in Australian policy is about as likely as Bainimarama getting an Order of Australia for good governance.
Siti said…

Thank you for the good laugh at Netani Rika's expense.

@Vale Netani Rika - you are spot on. He has no choice but to leave Fiji and go spread his word in other places, at lease it wont be Fiji, and sooner or later someone at News Limited will wake up to the fact that he was responsible for the state they are in. I have also heard that the staff at the Times have finally woken up and relise what a predicament he has put them in, no jobs and no payout.
Alter ego said…
Where exactly in Rika's article does he say anything about the government?

With comment like that you've sunk to the same level of fiction manufacturing you accuse others of. You just lost a lot of credibility and all respect in my eyes.
Anonymous said…
Hello Croz,
It'll definitely be a sad day for the oldest newspaper to close down. I dont think Government likes the idea of closing down an "institution" thats become an important aspect of our history. However (and this is no offence to any foreigners)I believe that if Fiji Times chooses a more responsible line of reporting then we wouldnt be in this predicament. Fiji Times chose instead a volatile path and decided to stand up for media principles which they themselves CANNOT practice (this is from the countless errors and journalistic misconduct).
While Fiji Times Management have decided to take a tough stance against Government, its the entire hard working crew at Fiji Times that will suffer. If thinking that their tough stand will in anyway change Government's stand, then I suppose that FJ Times Management has become too dillusional with the current government and the current situation. This government is moving the country forward; you can either choose to ignore it or be part of it.
My advice to Fiji Times (for the sake of their staff) is to try to partnership with Government.
Netani Rika is only choosing to be a matyr for FJ Times. But when the time comes, he (and Anne Fussell) will be sipping Pina Colada's watchin watching yachts saild by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the last thing on his mind will be the countless staff he's left jobless!
Corruption Fighter said…
Croz you're making a big mistake in setting yourself up as an apologist for the regime's handling of the sugar industry. There's no doubt that the sugar industry is in trouble for many reasons but the military regime is responsible for several things.

They've done nothing but spend almost four years making empty promises on lease renewal.

They've rejected over $300 million in EU aid because it required them to have a credible timeline for holding elections.

They've allowed a board which oversaw a failed mill refit to
pretend that there's nothing wrong. This problem should have been fixed last year with expertise sourced from independent experts overseas.

This year will see the worst year in FSC's history. Cane farmers won't need any help from bloggers or the Fiji Times to work out who they should blame for the miserable price they'll receive for their cane.
Thug watch said…
Don't you love the way some members of the I'Taukei like Noqu Viti issue explicit threats to anyone, like Croz, who dares to express a different view to their own? This person claims some special link to the military and darkly hints at imminent rebellion. Yeah, right. Doubtless a big-talking viavialevu who's probably sitting in some California bungalow on the outskirts of Sydney. And with a huge chip on his shoulder because Frank Bainimarama put a stop to the rorts of his kai vata in the SDL. This guy uses the quaint term Kumala Vula as some kind of racial insult directed at Croz. But listen up you kai Colo bully boy. Better a white kumala any day than one rotten to the core like you. Yeah, I'll see you in Fiji too when this is all over. You'll be the one with the kava eyes and milamila having to compete on equal terms with the rest of us for the first time in your sorry life.
. said…
@ Alter Ego ... Precisely. It's really very clever. Tell one part of the truth, the negative, and leave readers to attribute the blame.
Invictus said…
"Motibhai CEO, Mahendra Patel, said his company was delighted to have been successful in its bid"

I suppose the end is nigh for Rika and his cohorts.

Maybe the nation can once read unbiased news.
Unbiased news said…
Yes we real Fijians can't wait for all the news on bollywood, soccer and the history of the polluted ganges. Something tells me this war is a long way from being over....
. said…
@ Unbiased news ... I've let it through this time but next time you choose to write, please do not make any more veiled racist and threatening comments. I can understand your annoyance at Invictus who dreams about unbiased news (whenever is the news, anywhere, regularly truly unbiased?) but this is not the way to go.
Better than Bollywood said…
"We real Fijians". Yes, we know you. The liumuri who cobo to the likes of the Qaranivalu and Ro Teimumu Kepa because you're too stupid to realise you're being manipulated. You blame everyone else for your problems and can't function without an indigenous supremacist government. You need it to shower you with largess because you're too addled to get up from the yaqona bowl in your dilapidated vakatunaloa and put in a hard day's work. Oh yes, we know you. The real Fijians. Bigoted, divided and lost. The world's most endangered species because the rest of the world is saying time's up. Fortunately for you, one man is giving you a second chance to catch up. Yes, the real Fijians. With such a tragic tale of self destruction playing out in real life, really, who needs Bollywood?
imprimatur said…
@ unbiased news and others....

It is of course correct that almost no Media outlet these days can be deemed to be 'unbiased'. For one reason or another, mostly to do with interests of owners and shareholders, the political and ideological views of the aforementioned hold sway through editorial policy. What is incomprehensible about the soon to be dismantled Fiji Times under News Corp ownership, is that it allowed itself to be 'dumbed down' and professionally compromised in terms of standards of journalism. It bore no resemblance at all to the Fiji Times under Sir Leonard Usher, for example? Poor basic English and spelling, poor standards of editing, garbled headlines and almost nil by -lines (for a long time). No one appeared to have the courage of their convictions: or at least insufficient courage to show who wrote what. This is not a newspaper of worth: this is propaganda sheet and poor propaganda at that. There should be no weeping nor wailing about the demise of a newspaper which once was "the First Newspaper published daily in the world". Even that no longer appears and with good reason: it has become a rag and little more than that. The fact that it may be profitable as a rag, is neither here nor there. Something good must rise out of the ashes. If Fiji has aspirations to rebirth, then the Phoenix must rise and with it a whole plethora of higher and more elevated journalism which becomes an end in itself. Salus Populi - The Welfare of the People. Not unlike the Fiji Police, the service and best interest of the people must be set ahead of personal and narrow self-interest. Where is Robert Keith Reid and writers of his calibre? What is he making of all this from his perch on high? The Fiji Times Editor, board and staff failed to concern themselves with corruption in high places and they turned a blind eye to endemic racism. On those two counts alone they deserve their fate. They might have salvaged their standing had they taken more interest in the welfare of Fiji's women and children earlier. They did not until challenged head on. Indeed, they sat by while the fate of women and children through ever increasing and more deadly domestic violence became omnipresently violated and deprived of their basic rights. No headlines about this unless they might sell copies. No substantial investigative reporting was undertaken nor Court and Judicial Process reporting as a matter of daily necessity. For years there seemed to be no trained court reporters of any calibre to ensure the public best interest was served. Indeed, the editor himself was found guilty of contempt of court and fined by Justice Thomas Hickey's ruling. The most egregious contempt of the Fiji Courts in Fiji's history since 1874 One must suppose that is fame of a kind? A sort of contemptible celebrity?
Anonymous said…
@ Invictus & unbiased news.....

As Croz tels us, it is unlikely in today's world that we shall ever read news which is without 'spin' of one kind or another. But....this is the great pleasure of being well informed of current affairs. Any tertiary student of Current Affairs, Journalism Studies or Economics would point to the absolute necessity of reading information daily from numerous sources. Those sources must be checked for their provenance: checked fastidiously and then a judgement must be made about where the truth of the matter might, repeat, might lie. Is this not the way we learn to discriminate about the motivations and intentions of purveyors of 'the news'?
Radiolucas said…
@ Anon at 8:50am

Well said - however the problem is that without free media (that is media that can be judged by the veracity of what it prints) the function of the government is reduced to the point that it is now: a government that noone trusts, noone believes and which lives in its own world of no-criticism, no-bad news and no reality.

If this government were free to take criticism and respond cogently to questions (rather than flying off the handle at every perceived threat or slight) - I think everyone would feel a lot more empowered with how the country is being run and where we are going.
Imprimatur for imprimatur said…
Hear, hear, Imprimatur. One of the best things I've read about the problem with the Fiji Times. It's worth putting this is as a headline item, Croz. Yes, the Fiji Times needs to regain its public trust and national stature. And the best way to do that is through quality journalism. The problem with all the hoo-ha generated overseas about threats to the Fiji Times's independence is that overseas journalists never looked at the bloody thing. There was nothing to defend, As imprimatur says - a profitable rag in which the advertisements outshone the editorial content.
step up said…
I think we can all agree that the FT was a dog of a paper that allowed personal agenda to cloud its ability to write without bias.
Step down said…
I think we can all agree that the FT and Netani rika in particular are to be congratulated for maintaining their principles and not taking a backward step to the military junta and its guns - well done. The paper is now sold but News Ltd still have their building and all key assets - perhaps when democracy and free proess returns they can be back in business in Fiji?
Out of step said…
I think that we can all agree that "Step Up" is a thoroughly decent,sensible person with a firm grip on reality and Step Down is a misguided, malevolent idol worshipper, however nice he or she may otherwise be.

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