A Free and Fair Media?
|Fiji media stiffled?|
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.
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.