NEWS

Fiji Times Reporting ‘Gimmicky’, Says PM

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama launched a fresh attack on The Fiji Times yesterday saying certain reports in the newspaper were designed to gain publicity and attention. On January 16, the
20 Jan 2018 11:35
Fiji Times Reporting ‘Gimmicky’, Says PM

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama launched a fresh attack on The Fiji Times yesterday saying certain reports in the newspaper were designed to gain publicity and attention.

On January 16, the newspaper published a story titled ‘Back to Tents’ on the front page claiming 130 students in Koronubu, Ba, were still attending classes in tents.

Two days later, another front page story titled ‘Tube Ride to School’ claimed students from Naqalimare district in the Nadroga/Navosa province had to cross the Sigatoka River using inflated tubes to reach school. Both stories had pictures attached to them.

However, a Government letter to Fiji Times Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley yesterday refuted the reports, saying it was a “week of misleading headlines” for the daily newspaper.

Written by the Acting Permanent Secretary for Communication, Sharvada Sharma, it said the school in Koronubu had four classrooms and students were not attending classes in tents.

On the issue of the Sigatoka River crossing, Mr Sharma said the boat on the river had been repaired and was fully operational.

Mr Bainimarama, speaking at the hand-over of equipment to the Christian Mission Fellowship College worth around $130,000, said the reports were “brewing false drama”.

He said the paper was undermining Government efforts of “fulfilling a duty to the Fijian people, especially for you, our young Fijians.”

“It is unfortunate that some media organisations in Fiji don’t share our commitment, and are instead only interested in brewing up false drama, all at the expense of our students,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He claimed both the aforementioned reports were false and “gimmicky reporting won’t distract my Government”.

The Government letter was referred to Mr Wesley. Last night he responded.

He said: “It is unfortunate that we have been accused of printing misleading headlines.

“There is a public service ethic at the heart of most of the stories we cover.

“We responded to the calls of those in remote communities and villages, Fijians who wanted to bring to light information affecting the well-being and safety of their children. They sought our help and we responded.

“What we published was done as honestly and as accurately as we could. We were professional in our coverage as well. Questions were sent to the Ministry of Education on the days we visited these communities. We have not received a response so far,” Mr Wesley said.

The Government letter further said: “There is some irony in the fact that, by focussing on false or out-dated issues and sowing public confusion, the Fiji Times is creating the very disorder for parents and students that you inaccurately portray in your articles.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj



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