A Free and Fair Media?

Fiji media stiffled?
              An informal poll by Croz Walsh

There have been fewer claims recently of pro-Bainimarama bias and an intimidated media, although SODELPA's Mick Beddoes conducted a poll of his own that he said shows intimidation and bias persisted.

I thought I'd check out Mick's claims with my own survey last week by recording items that included news by each party and items that were neutrally reported  Where an item included a statement from one party and a counter-statement from another, I recorded them both as favourable or neutral to the two parties concerned.  The survey included the on line versions of the two major dailies, two online media and Fiji Broadcasting.  I found following FijiTV too time consuming to record but the pro and anti positions seemed reasonably balanced.

My count was limited to the number of articles published. Other attributes such as length, page, position on page, size of headings or inclusion of photographs were not considered.

It was a simple poll  with two aims:
  • To see if each party is being given a reasonably fair go, and 
  • To see if any one media source favoured any particular party. 
 Weekly variations can be expected with the varying number of party announcements (hence perhaps the reason for fewer FLP and NFP items) but this would have little effect on my two main aims. Items concerning distinctly government activities were not included though many people may also attribute the activites to FijiFirst.

Some 113 political party items appeared in the media last week, and a further 17 contained information about the elections, mainly by the Fiji Elections Office.

The Fiji Sun published the most political items (33), and the other media published between 18 and 22 items.

Of the 113  items appearing in all media, 43  were about  FijiFirst, 38  SODELPA, 13 PDP, 10 NFP, 7 FLP and one each was about two parties not yet registered (see table).

Overall, 38% of items concerned FijiFirst,  33% SODELPA, and between 6 and 12% the other Opposition parties, that may be expected to vary more due to more sporadic news announcements.

If this one week was reasonably representative, Fiji Sun was the most pro-FijiFirst. Only 42% of its political articles were about anti-FijiFirst parties. And, conversely,  the Fiji Times was the most anti-FijiFirst. Nearly  82% of its coverage was about the FijiFirst opposition.

In terms of the number of items published:

  • All political parties seem to have been given reasonable coverage by the main media. 
  •  The Fiji Sun had a pro-FijiFirst bias but Opposition news was also well covered. The Fiji Times and FijiVillage had a pro-SODELPA/other opposition party bias and their FijiFirst news was not quite so well covered.  FijiLive also favoured the Opposition  but it  gave reasonable FijiFirst coverage. Fiji Broadcasting probably had the most fair and balanced mix of items.
  • I have no doubt that the media practised self-censorship in the past  but its overall media coverage today seems reasonably well balanced.


Anonymous said…
Thanks Croz, this is a great relief indeed. I always held the view that Fiji media are just bad media by international standards, bad under Qarase, bad under Bainimarama. I had, however, this irritating feeling that articles which would effectively scrutinise actions of Bainimarama government were overly aggressive, pointing out human rights violations when there were none and accusing the government of misallocation of funds and more importantly lack of transparency. To me our current government is the most transparent we ever had, now our PM and the AG have even told us what their modest salaries are.
Anonymous said…
Well said. It is an honest government based on integrity and transparency. It is a wonderful supporter of freedom, democracy and human rights. Anyone who doesn't agree should be taken up to the military junta barracks and given a good flogging with iron bars and set upon by dogs - real ones as well as the military.
Anonymous said…
Military don't have dogs...only the Police & Corrections. The military will be happy to put them through the 'Obstacle Course' as was done to loud-mouth Kenneth Zinck. It did him a lot of good coz he lost 7 kilos of body fat in that one session. The military did him a favour! Now I understand he is putting all that body fact back in Brisbane. Another lazy Samoan wasting ozygen in Brisbane
Anonymous said…
Interesting analysis Croz thank you although I do think that the number of articles published slightly misses the point and the concerns that have been raised by opposition parties who feel that the articles about them have been excessively critical. For example Christopher Pryde's recent criticism of Lynda Tabuya's constitutional knowledge could hardly be seen as a positive for the PDP party. As fraught an exercise as it may be, I would be keen to see some sort of analysis of whether the articles published were positive or critical of the party in question. But thanks anyway I found your analysis interesting nonetheless.
Anonymous said…
Have you considered writing for the prestigious Fiji Sun? It is a paper of the highest integrity and intellect. It would welcome people of your character and qualities with open arms. Perhaps you could write a piece on how the 2006 coup was really undertaken by Fiji Corrections?
Crosbie Walsh said…
Anonymous 10:38 pm. The articles in the poll were all positive or neutral to the party noted. A critrical article, for example, by FFP of SODELPA, would be shown as an FFP article. I note that PDP is complaining that some of its statements are published with a "reply" from FFP, This is common media practice. Where such articles were published in the poll, they were recorded as positive for both parties.
Crosbie Walsh said…
Anonymous 12:00. You are not up with the play. Several of blog articles have been published by the Fiji Sun. I informed the editors and publishers of both the Fiji Sun and the Fiji Times that they were welcome to use what I wrote so long as it was not changed in any way without my permission. So far the Fiji Times has not taken up the offer.
Anonymous said…
Funny that. Perhaps the Fiji Times has a reputation to protect - you wanker.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for this Croz... Nice piece of analysis - I agree that some of the minor parties are becoming quite precious about the tone of the media coverage
Anonymous said…
What reputation? And is that the best shot you have? Calling someone a wanker. Grow up.
Anonymous said…
Welcome back Thikwit. How is that shadow? still jumping at it? Keep washing feet old mate - you will be doing it for decades after the election.
Anonymous said…
Name calling again. Here we go.
Anonymous said…
Bleating and whinging again. Here we go.

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