FIJI NEWS

Row Over Duo

Nemani Delaibatiki A row has broken out over two journalism academics at the University of the South Pacific. Patrick Craddock, the acting journalism co-ordinator for the USP Journalism programme and
25 Jun 2014 08:07

Nemani Delaibatiki

A row has broken out over two journalism academics at the University of the South Pacific.
Patrick Craddock, the acting journalism co-ordinator for the USP Journalism programme and lecturer Dr Matthew Thompson have been criticised for their controversial comments about the military.
Ashwin Raj, a USP academic and chairman of the Media Industry Development Authority, yesterday described them as “reckless academics trying to instill fear” among citizens to “keep us in a perpetual state of crisis. Mr Craddock had described Mr Raj’s talks of robust journalism as “all mouth water talk” and an insult to freedom of speech.
Mr Raj called the pair “ill-informed, self aggrandizing, self-selected moral entrepreneurs.
“It is all too easy, in this context, for foreign academics having barely spent any significant time in Fiji, to drum up dialectics of freedom and un-freedom,” he said.
“Any responsible academic, as a necessary measure, would have first ascertained and corroborated the facts before making a series of gnomic pronouncements about freedom.”
USP yesterday said it “would like to clarify that the views expressed by Dr Matt Thompson and Mr Patrick Craddock in the press release are solely their own and not those of the university.”
Dr Thompson (from Australia) and Mr Craddock (from New Zealand) yesterday stood by their original statement. They said they did not initiate the row. They were reacting to issues that were already out there in the public domain. The issues were the decision to deny Islands Business editor-in-chief Samisoni Pareti and former Fiji Times editor-in-chief accreditation to the Pacific Islands Development Forum and an article in the The Age, a Melbourne daily, about an interview with RFMF Commander Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga
Dr Thompson said: “I don’t mind a bit of heat. I have been to dicier places like Colombia and Iran.”
He denied writing a book or a chapter in the book about Fiji saying “the rumours are wrong”. On his USP future, he said USP offered him a semester at first. This was at short notice because Dr Ian Weber had abruptly left at the beginning of the semester. Dr Weber’s predecessor, Canadian Marc Edge, had also left in similar circumstances after widespread concerns over his behaviour and performance.
Dr Thompson said: “During the term, however, USP offered to extend my contract through second semester and I agreed to this.” He and Mr Craddock had not heard from USP.
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