No Need For Journalists To Fear If Basics Covered: Delaibatiki

There is no reason for journalists to fear doing their work if they cover the basics, says Fiji Sun’s managing editor training Nemani Delaibatiki. Speaking at a panel discussion on
04 May 2016 09:20
No Need For Journalists To Fear If Basics Covered: Delaibatiki
Fiji National University World Press Freedom Day panel members yesterday. From Left : Edwin Nand (deputy manager news, FBC), Fred Wesley (editor in chief Fiji Times), Cheeriean Wilson (director news desk Fiji One News), Vijay Narayan (director news CFL), Ashwin Raj (MIDA chairman), Nemani Delaibatiki (managing editor training Fiji Sun). Photo: Seruwaia Bolatini

There is no reason for journalists to fear doing their work if they cover the basics, says Fiji Sun’s managing editor training Nemani Delaibatiki.

Speaking at a panel discussion on the Role of Education in Media to mark World Press Freedom Day, he said the Media Decree minus the penalties was basically the same as the situation before 2006. The wordings may vary but the substance is the same.

The penalties for journalists who breach the provisions of the media code have been removed. This was the most contentious issue that scared journalists.

Mr Delaibatiki said the onus was on journalists to do their job properly.

He said that meant that stories they wrote satisfied the following criteria – the stories must be accurate, fair and balanced and in the public interest.

“As long as they do this, there is nothing to fear,” he told the audience at the Fiji National University campus in Nasinu.

He said the perception that the media was not free was a hangover from the days of the censors in newsrooms.

“Those days are long gone. Journalists should stop using this excuse that the media is not free for not engaging in investigative journalism,” he said.

Either journalists were lazy or lack the skills and experience to do investigative journalism.

Mr Delaibatiki defended the Fiji Sun against social media critics who accused the newspaper of being insensitive to the family of a girl who had been raped and killed.

He said the Fiji Sun had seriously considered the issue before it made the decision.

He said rape is a serious problem in our society and it must be highlighted.

“There is a culture of silence in our communities which does not help in the campaign against violence against women and children,” he said.

The Fiji Sun had consulted with the girl’s family and they had welcomed the Fiji Sun’s coverage and the results it brought.

Key speaker at the event, William Parkinson, the managing director for Communications Fiji Limited, said “It’s tough sometimes to stand up to express, or promote or cover an opinion, which we know our friends and relatives disagree with that makes them feel uncomfortable, it is a critical role in a small nation like ours that we have the courage to push back in that situation

“It is challenging in that environment to be objective to stand by the facts, to establish the truths.

“It is important as journalists that we need to learn to deal and understand that relationship we have with political and other leaders around, we need to respect the office but maintain healthy skepticism of the holder of the office, there is a difference.”

Mr Parkinson said journalists needed to represent the interest of the people.

They need to do their job, understand the facts of the matter before they make accusations.

Ashwin Raj, the Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) chairman, raised that press freedom must entail the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.

“While unequivocally recognising the freedom of the press, as pivotal in the materialisation of freedom of speech, expression, thought, opinion and publication, it reminds us of justifiable limitations to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals”.

Mr Raj said that Fiji now enjoyed political democracy. The public emergency regulations have been repealed. The Media Industry Development Decree 2010 and the Constitution guarantee freedom of press and consistent with the decision of European Court of Human Rights and article 10 of the freedom of expression provision in the European Convention of Human Rights, the constitution also protects the confidentiality of journalistic sources.

“The media is free to publish material including those that are critical of Government policies and this is evidenced in the opinion pieces and letters to the editors that are published in our dailies,” Mr Raj said.

Fiji has gone up in the world press freedom ranking on the following criteria compiled by Reporters Without Borders: pluralism, media independence, environment and self censorship legislative framework, transparency and infrastructure. Anti-Government blog sites saturated with content that is nothing short of hate speech are readily accessible.

Freedom of the press is an embodiment of the public’s right to know and participate through democratisation of the flow of information and the media as an important part between people and power.

Also present at the panel discussion were Cheeriean Wilson, director news desk Fiji One News, Edwin Nand deputy manager news at Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, Fred Wesley editor in chief of the Fiji Times, and Vijay Narayan , director news Communications Fiji Limited.

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