Monday, September 29, 2008

Fijian leader tells UN that elections must be delayed.

27 September 2008 – Fiji will not be able to hold democratic parliamentary elections by March next year, as previously scheduled, because it first needs to reform its electoral system, the country’s Prime Minister has told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

read more | digg story

Singh Clinches PGA Tour Point Race, Earns $10 million

Vijay Singh has won the FedEx Cup, finishing four rounds at the Tour Championship to clinch the PGA Tour's points race and earn a $10 million bonus.

read more | digg story

Friday, September 26, 2008

Do I Really Need Water From Fiji More Than Fijians Do?

If you live in North America, the Caribbean or certain European countries you may have seen Fiji Water. Did you know native Fijians go without clean water?

read more | digg story

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Racial system ‘a mess'

CHURCHES and political parties are against the People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress because leaders will be held accountable, a public forum heard on Monday night.

read more | digg story

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Media Matters In Fiji.



David Robie, author of Cafe Pacific, whose latest posting views the latest tribulations involving Michael Field and the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA)of New Zealand.

Free Press video (posted below)lampoons the American news industry's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election and is a sobering wake up call for all consumers of news and Fiji is no exception. Particularly so, in the wake of the Fiji Media Council's FAME awards and the accompanying hero worship and navel gazing.



Bill Moyers, an American public commentator and journalist takes a critical view of the Fiji Times owner, Rupert Murdoch in a video (posted below).





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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hello, it's a new species of Pacific Iguana

A new species of Pacific iguana has been uncovered by Australian and US researchers, but already its future is looking grim.In a paper published online in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, the team shows there are three living species of Brachylophus iguanas, not two as indicated in current taxonomy.

read more | digg story

Sunday, September 14, 2008

De-constructing The Impartiality of Fiji's Media.

In a follow up to an earlier SiFM post, the media industry in Fiji, returns under the microscope.

Fiji Sun's Editorial Opinions are getting further scrutinized and the company had grudgingly published an analysis of their reportage, or risk being outed for non-compliance of the Fiji Media Council's Code of Practice: Article 2 or The Right Of Reply.

The excerpt of the Analysis:

No evidence for charter claims


9/15/2008
This is a content analysis of the Fiji Sun Editorial (Sept 2) against the NCBBF that we ask to be published in compliance with the Fiji Media Council Code of Ethics and Practice. Article 2 of the Code headed OPPORTUNITY TO REPLY says:

Media have an obligation to give fair opportunity to reply to any individual or organisation on which the medium itself comments editorially.

This is not the first time that we have cited the provision of the Code of the Media Council of which the Sun is a member and you have ignored the Code and refused to publish.

There is a word for those who preach the rule of law but do not feel bound to follow their own rules.

Like lying publicly that you had not received Mahendra Chaudhry's letter after the Media Council had asked you to print them!

This communication is being copied to the Media Council to whom a complaint will be made if this reply that was sent to you last week is not published.

Paragraph 1


Fiji Sun alleges: “As the draft Peoples Charter “Consultation process gets into full swing, it is already clear that any claim of public acceptance will be hopeless, unreliable and without credibility”

Comment

The Fiji Sun does not provide any evidence to support its claim that the current NCBBF consultation process will be unreliable.

The NCBBF response form to be filled in by members of the public was professionally prepared to provide reliable data about people's opinion for or against the draft Peoples Charter.

The Fiji Sun's view logically follows from its stated public position calling for the rejection of the draft People's Charter. Fiji Sun reporters in the last 10 months have never covered the public consultation meetings of the NCBBF and thus its claim dismissing the result of the consultation process, when it has just started, is the wishful thinking of the foreign Editor and his local lackey, reflecting the desire of the owners of the Fiji Sun who support the SDL Party.

They want the public consultation process of the NCBBF to fail and be discredited.

The Fiji Sun is afraid that the majority of the people of Fiji may support the draft Peoples Charter so this Editorial wants to say before the result is known that it will be unreliable.

The Fiji Sun Vodaphone TXT Poll last week answer to the question whether people regard the Peoples Charter as the way forward for Fiji showed 75 per cent Yes and 25 per cent No.

The Fiji Sun does not even accept the result of its own Public Opinion Poll!.


Paragraph 2

Fiji Sun alleges: “First there was to be a referendum on the Charter. Then, as widespread opposition became apparent, there wasn't”.

Comment

In August, the NCBBF in response to a similar claim by the Sun, wrote to the Editor a letter [that was never published] explaining that the NCBBF had considered the option of a national referendum at a meeting in April 08 and decided to defer this option because it is like convening an election and would cost as much as having an Election.

The letter said the referendum option is still open and can be reconsidered. In response to a statement by Laisenia Qarase in the Fiji Times, the NCBBF advised him that he could raise the national referendum option for serious consideration at the Presidents Dialogue Forum later this year.




Paragraph 3

Fiji Sun alleges: “Then we were told there will be consultation among stakeholders, followed by equally wide consultation with the general public. It hadn't happened and isn't happening.

Consultation implies explanation and exchange of views and that is exactly what is not taking place in this process”

Comment

Again, this claim is totally false. It has no factual foundation.

The Sun has not named which promise to which stakeholders they are referring to.

If the Editors mean the political parties and other organisation leaders that had refused the invitation to them as stakeholders to be part of the NCBBF, then the claims is clearly false.

If the Fiji Sun means the public of Fiji, there have been already two phases of consultations by the NCBBF outreach teams that had taken place over the last 12 months involving dialogue in over 1000 villages and settlements all over Fiji.

The third more intensive phase has just begun. The Fiji Sun was invited many times to cover some of these consultations but the Paper never did and still has not done so. No wonder the Editors believe such consultations are not happening!.


Paragraph 4

Fiji Sun alleges: “The consultation” programme is an effort to sell the Charter and as such the “consultation” team are extolling the virtues of the document while glossing over - or simply omitting its highly controversial and potentially dangerous aspects”.

Comment

The Fiji Sun does not explain what are the controversial and potentially dangerous aspect of the Peoples Charter they are referring to. Calling the draft Peoples Charter “dangerous” is na├»ve scaremongering because this only compels people to obtain a copy of the draft Peoples Charter to read and find out if the Fiji Sun's view has any substance.

They will find it has no substance.

Thanks to the Fiji Sun for inadvertently encouraging people to read the draft People's Charter!

Paragraph 5

Fiji Sun alleges: “Now we discover that people who tick Yes or No in this charade of a public vote will be asked to give their names, addresses and telephone numbers.

Why? Well we are told this is for verification purposes but if people decline to divulge their addresses and telephone contacts, their “votes” will still be counted.”

Comment

There is nothing unusual about filling official survey response forms that ask for respondent's contact addresses, including telephones numbers.

This is a voluntary consultation form and respondents are merely requested their address for future verification [including by the news media], to strengthen the integrity of the NCBBF consultation process.

The Fiji Sun need not worry about the internal verification system of NCBBF.

It seems that the Editorial writer has not closely read the response forms it is criticizing and further, he has also not been reading or hearing the NCBBF repeated statements to the media that filling of the Response forms is voluntary.

Those who do decide to fill the forms will be under no compulsion or threat, for the forms provide for them to state their opinions freely if they support or do not support the draft Peoples Charter. It seems the Fiji Sun would like people to believe the Police and soldiers will be at these public consultations to intimidate people to support the draft Peoples Charter! The Fiji Sun will allege anything to discredit what it has already decided to oppose. The Response Form is transparent and it is simply a way of recording people's attitude to the draft Peoples Charter.

The Fiji Sun desperately wants the NCBBF public consultation process to be everything that it alleges. They are going to be disappointed because the consultation process was designed to have integrity.


Paragraph 6

Fiji Sun alleges: “But lets be under no illusions. This Charter will be declared accepted. It will be declared law, the Constitution not withstanding and this document that blatantly undermines the Constitution will be declared adopted in support of it”


Comment


The Fiji Sun Editorial writer obviously has been deaf to the NCBBF explanation that the draft Peoples Charter is merely a statement of commitment to certain principles and proposals for development.

It is not a legal document.

It will strengthen, not undermine the Constitution.

The Sun has not explained how the draft Peoples Charter undermines the Constitution.


Paragraph 7

Fiji Sun alleges: “This world of “newspeak” , as envisaged by the NCBBF, a world in which the Constitution in which Big Brother always knows what is best for us”

Comment

The attempt by the Fiji Sun to portray the NCBBF as promoting an Orwellian world of totalitarianism is a ridiculous fantasy.

The Fiji Sun in fact has created its own world of totalitarian propaganda by refusing to publish NCBBF responses to critical comments on articles that appear in the Fiji Sun, in blatant breach of the Media Code of Ethics and Practice that require the Fiji Sun to practice balanced reporting and publish comments that respond to its editorial and opinion articles.

It is sheer hypocrisy for the Fiji Sun to talk about democracy and the rule of law when it blatantly breeches its own media rules, to be fair, continuously and without shame.

Fiji Sun knows best what its readers should know and alternative views from the NCBBF it suppresses at all cost unless we are willing to pay to advertise them.


Paragraph 8

Fiji Sun alleges: “A world in which we end all coups by putting the military beyond Parliament and the Constitution”.

Comment Another preposterous claim! It is obvious that the Fiji Sun Editorial writers are unwilling to recognize that the NCBBF has the support of the RFMF to establish a better Constitutional democracy where the role of the RFMF is well defined and accountable to the Constitution and the Government. The Fiji Sun has never articulated a better, more practical path back to constitutional democracy than that espoused by the NCBBF because it seems mentally incapable of doing so.


Former Fiji Times journalist and columnists, Kamal Iyer, whose latest opinion article attempts justify the media bias:

And prominent academic Dr Biman Prasad on page 11 of the Sunday Times commented, "Journalists must add to the making of better policies by reporting in a neutral manner". This was part of a feature "In the face of poverty" written by Fiji Times senior journalist Robert Matau [...]If journalists stay neutral and just re-write press releases or take "no comment" as a non-story, then Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward would not have won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing the Watergate scandal that resulted in the downfall of US President Richard Nixon.

If Fiji's media wasn't vigilant then the quarter billion National Bank of Fiji scandal would not have been exposed if journalists just took Jai Ram Reddy and David Pickering's accusations of corruption as just cheap politicking[...]

Dr Prasad's statement of journalists sta[y]ing purely neutral is similar to the desire of the State and politicians to control the media. This also has been a relentless campaign since our Independence. There are those in government, or indeed in the wide spectrum of the society, who will not want the media to dig up the truth. They will want to control the media from reporting on what already is common knowledge amongst our citizens[...]

Dr Prasad's neutrality theory therefore has no logic. It is like a driver consistently engaging the neutral gear on his/her car to save fuel without realising the damage being done to the gearbox.

In the same way if journalists stay neutral, shut their eyes, seal their lips and regard their profession as another job, the nation will suffer irreparable damage because of the misdeeds of devious, power hungry, corrupt and treacherous personalities and politicians.



Kamal Iyer perhaps is well read about misdeeds and corrupt politicians in Fiji, that it is quite difficult to separate his comments, as a independent viewer and he as a colluding subject.

T.R. Singh's perspective of the Fiji media's veneer of impartiality, is highlighted in an article titled "FIJI: The myth of a balanced, neutral and fair media" which was published on Pacific Media Centre website.

First and foremost, the connotations of neutrality, which Iyer so callously diminishes, is the corner stone of quality journalism. Unfortunately, those foundations have been seriously eroded in Kamal's Iyer's case, whose idea of neutrality is more closer to Robert Novak's outing of Valerie Plane.

It is beyond a stretch for Iyer to even consider himself and Victor Lal in the same league with Washington Post's Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, whose reports ignited the Watergate scandal.


On the aspect of accuracy and balance, a Fiji Daily Post article reports that the New Zealand's Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), has upheld the complaints by Fiji's Solicitor General regarding Michael Fields reports on Radio New Zealand.

The excerpt:
NZ broadcasting authority upholds S-G complaint
15-Sep-2008 08:24 AM

THE New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has upheld the complaint by Fiji Solicitor-General, Christopher Pryde against an item by journalist Michael Field broadcast on Radio New Zealand in March this year.

The BSA’s decision was received by the Solicitor-General’s office on Thursday.

Pryde had complained that the update on events in Fiji in the broadcast was an “uneducated, ill-informed, deeply biased, unbalanced, and false account of recent events in Fiji”.

The comments were in relation to the appointment of Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum as head of the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC), the deportation of Russell Hunter, Justice Scutt’s criticism of the Shameen Report, and the criminal attack on the judge.

Radio New Zealand had said that the statements complained of were not material to the discussion.

The BSA said that the public has a right to expect that news and current affairs programmes would present material accurately.

Having upheld the complaint, the BSA declined to make any orders but said that the publication of their decision would serve as a reminder to commentators that they must ensure the accuracy of factual statements.


Fiji Sun also published the news story on BSA's decision.










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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fiji Under Pressure-A Video.



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Respecting The Dead- A Fiji Times Case.


A photograph appearing in a Fiji Times article published online (Wednesday Sept. 10 2008)covering the murder at Suva point, brings to the forefront some ethical questions.

One particular case of the issue of distressing images in Saudi Arabia, was covered by a posting by Media Channel.

Although, the Fiji Media Council (FMC), code of ethics has a brief about the issue, it does not explore the matter in-depth. Nor does the FMC measure, keep track of any violations of this code.

The excerpt of FMC code #26:

26) DISTRESSING MATERIAL

a) Editors, producers and broadcasters of news, current affairs and documentary programmes and articles should take particular care in deciding whether the inclusion of graphic detail and intensity of violent or distressful material is warranted by its relevance and add to public understanding, of the subject.

b) Special consideration must be given before publication or transmission of particularly disturbing, images including:

1) Torture or ill-treatment of people or animals
2) Close-ups of dead or mutilated bodies
3) Images of people in extreme pain or on the point of death
4) Violence or ill treatment of children.


The exact subject on how to treat images , is contained in an interesting book, titled "Images in Ethics Codes in an Era of Violence and Tragedy" and should be considered, a must-read for the print media industry in Fiji.

Another obscure local media organization, Fiji Media Watch is supposedly a watch dog on these issues, but it seems to being enjoying its charitable organization status more than its primary role/mission; by virtue of the non-existing case studies or publications focusing exclusively on the media industry.



While the Fiji Media Watch website claims to be monitoring the media, what good does it do, if the organization keeps those observations and analysis under wraps?

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Zig-zagging Zinck.


Former Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations, Kenneth Zinck was quick to point fingers at NCBBF member, Penelope Moore, in a Fiji Sun."Letter to the Editor".



The excerpt of Zinck's letter:
Do you know that this latest mouthpiece for the Charter and NCBBF Penelope Moore stood for the general election in the 90s as a Fiji Labour Party candidate and lost? Well call me and I will let you know more of her failures as I was her manager and coach in those days.


Moore also wrote an opinion article that was published in the Wednesday Sept 3rd 2008 isuue of the Fiji Times.


Zinck's jab at Moore was motivated by her outspokeness with regards to the Charter and her disdain for the religious ethno-nationalism in the Fiji Methodist Church.



Perhap SiFM readers should be reminded of Zinck's ultimate flip-flop as a former union activist cum Minister. One of Zinck's opening moves as Minister was eroding union rights, which was featured in a Fiji Times article, published Fri, March 8th 2002.





Other quotes from Zinck.


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