NEWS

Peter Lomas, A Pacific Giant In Journalism

“He is an industry pioneer and one of the last surviving old school ‘newspaper man’ of the Pacific, someone who lived and breathed the news business and practically lived his life in the newsroom.
10 Mar 2022 12:47
Peter Lomas, A Pacific Giant In Journalism
Na iliuliu ni kabani na Fiji Sun kei na Siga Rarama o Peter Lomas.

He was a Pacific giant and trailblazer in journalism and the media industry.

Fiji Sun’s Publisher/CEO Peter Lomas passed away yesterday at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva after a short illness.

 

Fiji Sun Board

Fiji Sun board chairman, Ratu Ilaitia Tuisese, said Mr Lomas was always professional in his dealings. He was also hardworking.

Our interaction was often brief, to the point and about the business.

“One thing I admired about him was his vast contacts that enabled him and the Fiji Sun to operate well.

“At times when there was an issue at the Fiji Sun, he always had the right person to talk to at the press of the button whether it was abroad or wherever.”

Ratu Ilaitia’s first association with Mr Lomas was during his rugby playing days in the 1970s.  At the time, Mr Lomas was a sports reporter for the old Fiji Sun.

 

Fiji Media Association

General Secretary of the Fijian Media Association, Stanley Simpson, said they were saddened with the loss of a media industry veteran.

“He is an industry pioneer and one of the last surviving old school ‘newspaper man’ of the Pacific, someone who lived and breathed the news business and practically lived his life in the newsroom.

“He lived a very private life, more comfortable in the newsroom than out in public.”

Mr Lomas was passionate about media training in the Pacific, a passion that spanned over four decades, having trained hundreds of Pacific journalists who now hold senior positions in newsrooms across the Pacific.

He held experience of more than five decades as a reporter, editor, media manager and trainer in a career that took him from New Zealand, Australia and throughout the Pacific.

He held top editorial positions in both Fiji’s major daily newspapers; The Fiji Times and Fiji Sun, as well as editor of Islands Business, the leading regional news magazine of the 1980s and early 1990s.

“As publisher of the Fiji Sun, Lomas has been involved in penning the front-page headlines and cover stories of almost every major historical event in Fiji over the last decade,” Mr Simpson said.

“He has guided many journalists in the basics and business of the media, and the art of journalism and was as thick skinned as they come, standing resolutely on his views and beliefs even under overwhelming criticism about his stand or positions. He was never afraid of being unpopular.”

 

Peter Lomas’ early life

He was born in Dunedin, in the south of New Zealand, but Fiji was his home for about 60 of his 74 years of life.

His first school was Mt St Mary’s, Nadi. Later, he also went to Nadi Airport School.

In New Zealand, his education was at St Patrick’s College, Wellington, and Taieri High School, just out of Dunedin. There he was a star basketball player.

He started in journalism while still at school in Otago and left school early when he was offered a job on the Evening Star in Dunedin. He later worked for brief periods on The Dominion, the Sunday News, and the Melbourne Herald.

His connection with Fiji started when the family moved here in 1954. He’s father was Noel Lomas, an air traffic controller, who had tasted Pacific life serving in Solomon Islands during World War II.

Mr Lomas left Fiji in 1958 with his parents (and brothers Roger and David) in 1958. He was back in Fiji in 1968 on visiting his father, who was then the senior air traffic controller at Nadi (he later became airport manager).

In 1968, he joined The Fiji Times, starting his long journalism career in Fiji.

 

Peter and the media

Mr Lomas’ brother, David Lomas, was also in journalism for 55 years as print and later a TV journalist – now presenter in TV programme, David Lomas Investigates, said:

“Peter Lomas was the man who changed Fiji journalism. When he started in Fiji the only newspaper was The Fiji Times and its readership was the rich, the educated and the expats,” David said.

“Peter wanted to make the news available and understandable to everyone – and that is just what he did.

“And he wanted his journalists to write about the things that mattered to the everyday folk.

“He believed journalism should celebrate as well as challenge. Though he did not shy from doing the hard stories. In his journalism world he did not want the negative to always dominate.

“Peter’s passion for journalism was my inspiration for being a journalist. I just saw what he was doing and wanted to do the same.

“We both pretty much shared the same views – so we always just got along.

“Peter was a man of great chap – he just had four great passions – his job, his family, sport and Fiji – and they totally consumed his life.

“He was never on holiday, never on a day off. Work was everything to him. At a family breakfast he’d be on the phone for half of it talking to the office. It was the same at a rugby game – half an eye on the game, half an eye on the emails on his phone.

“Being a journalist, he always said, was the greatest job a person could have. ‘We get the front row seat seeing what happens,’ he would say. ‘And when it is great, we report and celebrate it and when it was bad, we still report that but we hope by doing so we can influence change’.

“He was a stickler for what he used to call the ABC of journalism – something that the hundreds of journalists he helped train in Fiji and around the Pacific will always remember.

“The ABC’s – accuracy, balance, and credibility. They were his mantra.

“Peter believed journalism did not always have to be negative. He would often say that it needed to also be journalism of hope and that in a newspaper there needed to be room to celebrate development and not just always write negatively.

“He was critical of the foreign journalists who did their hit and run jobs on Fiji, always looking for the sensational headline, especially in recent years.

“He believed they didn’t follow the ABC.

“I remember in one case Peter was infuriated when a New Zealand journalist did a big story on police brutality in Fiji when some officers were alleged to have beaten some youngsters. That Fiji story got more headlines in New Zealand than an incident when four New Zealand police officers there were alleged to have bashed a man in a police cell resulting in the man’s death.

“Foreign journalists and governments, Peter believed, were fixated on the history of coups and would never acknowledge, even after free elections saw Frank Bainimarama win in a landslide, all the good things that were happening in Fiji, including corruption being largely rooted out.”

Daughter Losalini said: “First, we’d like to thank the amazing CWM ICU team for all the excellent care they provided him.

“Dad was born in New Zealand, but Fiji was his home. He was proud to carry a blue Fiji passport and believed in the people and nation of Fiji.

“Our father had two great loves: his family and his work. He was a simple, kind, hardworking and generous man. He lived his life putting others before himself.

“His work in the media was a big part of who he was, with his late wife Nina. They believed in empowering and training journalists.

“He loved putting out a daily paper, and we believe the Fiji Sun will continue to shine.

“We would also like to acknowledge and give thanks to the Patel family, and the late Sandip and JC Patel, for their vision and belief in our father and in the Fiji Sun.”

Mr Lomas was father to Talei, Roger and Losalini, father-in-law to David, Lani and Josh. Grandfather to Rylan and Avery.  Ta Levu to Nina and Jo.

Funeral arrangements are still being worked out.

Feedbackrosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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