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Editorial: Journalists Will Welcome Acting PM’s Remarks On Pay And Working Conditions

Editorial: Journalists Will Welcome Acting PM’s Remarks On Pay And Working Conditions
May 18
11:02 2017

Issues raised at the Fiji National University Press Freedom Day panel discussion are worth taking note of for more discussions and action.

The keynote speaker, Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, spoke of the need to increase the pay of journalists and improve their working conditions.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum repeated a concern raised by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama when he addressed a news media conference a few years back.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also raised the need for specialist training of journalists to enable them to do critical analysis of issues. He said there was a lack of analysis in the local media. He said there was too much of “he said, she said” reports and not enough analysis based on factual information.

These are issues we at the Fiji Sun have been addressing. Our owners have approved pay levels that have enabled us to bring in more highly educated journalists. Our entry level now is at least a first degree, unlike the lower levels of education still in place at some other media houses.

We have invested in further training and education.

We have sent our people to top courses overseas and brought in top trainers from India, now the world leader in the English-language press.

Our Publisher regularly questions examples of he said/she said reportage. He strongly encourages more explanatory, interpretative and investigative reporting. And more analysis.

We make no claim to be perfect. But we’re trying hard to do better every day and serve the people of Fiji better every day. The Fiji Sun has invested in education and training in a bid to raise the level of intellectual capacity that will contribute to raising the standard.

We recognise that along with all this must come better pay. It is imperative in any media company that journalists should be paid based on their qualifications and their ability if their services are to be retained.

As the financial position of the Fiji Sun has improved our owners have invested back into our people and the vital equipment we use to produce what is now Fiji’s biggest newspaper.

But experienced Fijian journalists are in demand. In Fiji in the mainstream media and as media liaison officers in Government, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations and in other countries in the region who look to Fiji to recruit their staff.

All involved in news organisation ownership and leadership should take note of Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s very valid points.

Concerns were also raised yesterday by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and Ashwin Raj, director of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and the Media Industry Development Authority. This was over the misuse of social media.

Their concerns are shared by many people who take umbrage at the sometimes gutter-level language used by some to vilify others in unprovoked and unsubstantiated attacks.

Social media can be an ideal means of communication when used appropriately. It can uplift and empower people to do good.

But it can also be a destructive forum when it is used to circulate hate speech and other forms of unlawful communication. In the British Parliament recently there was intense discussion over hate speech. Discussion centred on proposed penalties for social media giants who fail to filter out unlawful mail like hate speech. The concern was raised in the wake of the terror attack near Westminster in London in which five died and 40 were injured in March this year.

In Fiji, there is no law on social media. But there has been a successful prosecution of a case where a woman sued another person for defamation.

There is a lot of food for thought in the points raised by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and Mr Raj about social media.

For journalists, they will welcome the remarks of the Acting PM on their pay and working conditions.



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