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Culture Obstacle For Journalists

SUVA: Pacific journalists have to be sensitive to cultural taboos in their work, said Reggie Dutt, editor of Wansolwara, the journalism student training paper at the University of the South Pacific, the Daily Post reports.

He made the comment during a panel discussion among media personalities to mark World Media Freedom Day at the university last night.

"We always have foreign interests and want to keep up with the standard of overseas countries," he said.

"But sensitivity within our Pacific cultures bind journalists and prevent proper reporting of certain stories."

However, Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fiji Television's senior reporter, said that cultures keep changing and journalists should keep up with such changes.

The panelists included Virisila Buadromo of Radio FM96; Yashwant Gaunder, managing director of FijiLive website; Tevita Momoedonu of the Bula Network radio, Dr Shaista Shameem, director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission; and Ranjit Singh, general manager of the Daily Post.

[Chairing the discussion was Fiji Times columnist Seona Smiles, who is also communications officer of the Development Alternative with Women for a New Era (DAWN).]

Discussion centred on the newsroom and Internet and the impact of new technologies on Pacific media freedom.

Censorship of the Internet was a key issue raised by the audience.

"Censorship is a very difficult subject to discuss and, honestly, I don't have an opinion on it," Dr Shameem said.

"I think the best solution is self-regulation of individual media organisations."

Mr Momoedonu questioned the need to censor a story if it was a balanced account.

"If a journalist produces a well-balanced story, I don't see any need for censorship would solve problems such as pornography on the Internet.

She said that people will still access sites which promote pornography, racial discrimination and criminal activities, if they want to, but she reinforced the need for self-regulation.

"Censorship also restricts the freedom of the media," she said.

* The panel discussion was organised by the journalism programme at USP and sponsored by the Canada Fund.


PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, and Pactok Communications, in Sydney and Port Moresby.

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