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NZ Academic Slams Fiji Govt Attack On Media

FIJI: NZ Academic Slams Fiji Govt Attack On Media

Source: Fiji Daily Post

Article provided by the Journalism Programmme, University of the South Pacific. Pacific Media Watch

SUVA: A journalism lecturer has slammed the personal attacks on the
media by the Fiji Government, calling it an "inability" to appreciate
the appropriate relationship between the legislature and the media.

New Zealander Ingrid Leary, who has resigned from her post at the
University of the South Pacific, added a new dimension to the threat of
media legislation in the country, saying the attacks could be part of an
"orchestrated" campaign.

She said that in any true democracy this relationship would exhibit
healthy tension.

"What these attacks effectively do is alienate the Government from the
people because no matter how justified the criticisms of the media, the
people will always identify with the media more than any government,"
she said.

"My perception from talking to people on buses, in shops and the rural
areas is that the Government has completely under-estimated the
intelligence of the people and that by continuing these attacks, members
of Parliament are in fact shooting themselves in the foot," she added.

Ms Leary, who has resigned to spend time with her family in New Zealand,
does not believe the recent general criticisms are unwarranted.

However, the abuse of parliamentary privilege to basically defame
journalists, she said, would do nothing to improve the hostile
relationship between Government and the media.

"The bitterness of the attack does make one wonder if there is an
orchestrated campaign to try to swing public favour towards legislative
media restrictions," she said.

"It would be interesting to see how such moves would be received. Not
just by the media but by the people on the streets who really do seem to
have an appreciation of the importance of media freedom," she added.

Ms Leary has been offered a lucrative job offer in New Zealand. However,
this is not a reason for her resignation.

Her wish to spend more time with family has finally come true with an
opening for an independent contractor with Touch Down Productions, a
company producing television programmes for TV1, TV2 and TV3.

Ms Leary paid tribute to journalism coordinator David Robie for the
tremendous work he has done with the programme, but criticised USP for
its "inflexibility and bureaucratic" nature.

"David has turned the programme into a credible and solid training
ground for regional students. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching
regional students and it has made me hopeful for great stories from the
region," she said.

"A problem which we had was appointing a fulltime radio lecturer which
was impossible with USP's rules and regulations."

* The job description and other details for this position will be posted
on Pacific Journalism Online http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/ as soon as it
has been advertised by the university next week.

Pacific Media Watch items are provided solely as a non-profit educational and media freedom service. Copyright remains the property of the original producers as indicated. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright owner for any publishing.

Email Pacific Media Watch: Pacific Media Watch

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