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Samoa's Savali Blasts 'Propaganda-Promoting Journalists'

APIA (Savali News/Pacific Media Watch): The lack of balanced reporting to the point of promoting regime propaganda in the Fiji media, and the subsequent silence from media freedom groups in the region, has prompted Savali News to issue a statement.

This week, Fiji’s trade union bodies asked that country’s media outlets not to report what they see as one-sided pro-government news. And that, to either publish balanced news items, or nothing at all.

Pro-regime newspaper Fiji Sun, Radio Fiji and Fiji TV were named by the Fiji Trade Union Congress and the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions in a joint press release.

Asked for comment, the editor of the Savali newspaper, Tupuola Terry Tavita, had this to say: “It has been known in regional media circles for some years now that there are many so-called journalists in Fiji who willingly – and actively – promote the military regime there. They come to regional media workshops and bad-mouth the regime then go back home and voluntarily write and promote regime propaganda.

"They’re hypocrites.

“Several times, it was suggested to some in the independent Fiji media to make use of regional media networks to go around the government censors. To have their stuff that can’t be published in Fiji published elsewhere in the region where media freedom thrives like Samoa and the Cook Islands.

“But they (Fijian journalists) are not interested. They come up with all sorts of excuses instead. I can’t believe that in this age of emails, fax machines and phone texting there is absolutely nothing coming out of Fiji. In fact, we only ever read about the truth of what’s really going on there from the New Zealand and Australian media.

“It’s an insult to Pacific media.The lack of leadership from Fiji-based regional media groups like PINA also contributes to this environment," said the Savali editor.

“I don’t blame the Fijian journos too much as they are only taking their cue from the spineless PINA organisation whose executive is also too busy kissing up, and looking for favours, from the Bainimarama regime. You know, when the big crab crawls with a limp, the little crabs limp after him.”

But he adds. “The situation in Fiji is like any other crisis elsewhere. There are those who lose out and there are those who position themselves to take advantage of the situation.
"The media also has its share of opportunists. Journalists, editors and news directors who agreeably choose to promote the regime-of-the-day.

"They’ve become part of the problem, Bainimarama’s willing and able soldiers in the media. They’ve essentially become part of the propaganda machine. The regime’s critics become their enemies, and those friendly to the regime become their friends also. You can easily pick that out by what – and how – they publish and broadcast the news.

“In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of these Fijian journalists are calling up Bainimarama and suggesting news angles that make him look good.

Savali newspaper – published by the Samoan government under the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet – has been critical of the coup-installed regime in Fiji since it took power, December 2006."


* Fiji Trade Union Congress on the media:

Pacific Media Watch Online

Pacific Media Watch is a media and educational resource compiled by the AUT Pacific Media Centre for the Pacific region.

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