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Parliament Reporting Handbook for Fiji Journalists Launched

A handbook, which offers practical guidance and advice for journalists carrying out the important role of writing news reports on parliamentary business and deliberations, was launched at the Fiji Parliament yesterday.

In addition to being a source of information for journalists on the workings of Parliament, the handbook also references and outlines Freedom of Speech provisions in the Fiji Constitution as well as relevant Acts that have an important bearing on parliamentary coverage.

The launch was held in conjunction with the training workshop for Fiji journalists that is currently underway through the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS) and the Fijian Media Association (FMA) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Speaking on behalf of PACMAS, the co-trainer of the Media Training Workshop on Parliamentary Reporting, Steve Chase, emphasized how the Fiji Parliamentary Reporters Handbook will serve as a reference for parliamentary reporting and training.

“I am very excited to be here today because this booklet took three years in the making,” said Mr. Chase.

“We have just come down from a training session where we are already using this book. I would like to thank the FMA who have been particularly relevant and important in developing this.

A few years ago, we had a Media Roundtable with members of FMA and Members of Parliament to just distill what we should put in this and what would be relevant so that it would be useful to reporters in doing their job.”

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He added, “Hopefully, this handbook will go a long way towards equipping the reporters not only of today, but also the reporters of tomorrow to carry on the important task of reporting on the deliberations of Parliament.”

The Deputy High Commissioner for the Australian High Commission to Fiji, Anna Dorney highlighted the critical role of the media in creating spaces for education, analysis, information and peaceful cooperative debates.

“The media also plays a critical role in society, providing crucial information that educates, enlightens and enriches the public to help inform the civil discourse crucial to a successful society,” said Ms. Dorney.

“For this reason, we are equally proud to be able to support the hardworking and dedicated members of the Fijian media, through the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS).”

Ms. Dorney also highlighted the strong partnerships that were central to the development and finalisation of the handbook.

“The Parliamentary handbook is the result of a lot of hard work from PACMAS, UNDP, the Parliament of Fiji, Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA), FMA, the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and many others,” she said. “The handbook aims to assist the Fijian media to fulfil one of its key roles - to provide the Fijian public with accurate, timely and impartial information about the vital work of its Parliament.”

She added, “We are proud, alongside our donor partners, New Zealand and the Government of Japan, to support the work of the Fijian Parliament through the technical assistance provided by UNDP and the support of our own Australian and Victorian Parliaments.”

The Chairperson for MIDA, Ashwin Raj also addressed the event.

“I certainly hope that this is going to empower the media to use the guidelines to report robustly, uphold media ethics at all times and know that this is going to play a huge part in bringing people closer to the institution of Parliament,” said Mr Raj.

“There is a fine balance between the Freedom of Expression and the responsibilities that come with it as enshrined in our constitution about the significance of Free Speech, robust debate within the permissible length of the law.”

The Fiji Parliamentary Reporters Handbook references specific rules relating to Parliamentary practice and mechanisms, political cycles, the Fiji media code of ethics, parliamentary privilege and covers context analysis in parliamentary reporting.

A copy of the handbook can be downloaded from:

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