Fijileaks: We are not concerned whether we win or not but for us the nomination means that we will be keeping alive the strangulation of the Fiji media on the world stage. You can follow the link below and NOMINATE individuals or organisations for Freedom of Expression Awards 2016; the closing date is: 10am on Tuesday 20th October.
Meanwhile, RUSSELL HUNTER, the former publisher and editor-in-chief
of the Fiji Sun, examines the sorry state and quality of journalism in
"The watchdog has become a lapdog – and it would be wrong to single out the Fiji Sun in this role. At least it has unashamedly embraced bias and makes no bones of its dog-like desire to please."
The reporter mentions that “a reader” has suggested that it make the statement asserting that to describe Victor Lal and some others as an idiot is to insult the world’s idiots.
It’s neither clever nor original but given that there’s no prize for guessing who “a reader” might be it was duly published. As ordered.
It’s a sure sign if any were needed that the dictatorship’s control of the media is complete. From the early days of censorship in 2008 the regime has emerged from decreeing what may not be published to what must be published.
This has been achieved through a blend of threats and bribes. The lies to parliament about the Fiji TV saga have never been challenged before the privileges committee (such as it is) and doubtless never will be as an increasingly dysfunctional Opposition (for want of a better word) flounders in an incompetence matched only by certain figures in the dictatorship itself.
Similarly, the media will leave well alone if it knows what’s good for it. Most do.
So whereas a few short years ago there would have been media outcry today there is silence. The watchdog has become a lapdog – and it would be wrong to single out the Fiji Sun in this role. At least it has unashamedly embraced bias and makes no bones of its dog-like desire to please.
Others cling to the fiction of independence when they know they cannot afford to be so.
For the Khaiyum courts have endless power to punish independent reporting and have already made it known they will not hesitate to use them. They, like the media, report to one master only. And while one feels for the few honest people left in the institutions and estates of Fiji, whether this is done willingly or otherwise is now immaterial. The end result is the same.
But the consequences are – or should be – becoming apparent. There is today an alarming and growing disconnect between the media and what was once its natural constituency. What was once the voice of the voiceless has become the voice of those who have the guns, money and power to shout the loudest.
It affects some more than others but in general the media has lost or perhaps abandoned the trust of those it once sought to serve. People simply no longer believe what they read, hear and see in the media.
And this goes a long way towards explaining the rise of sites such as Fijileaks which publishes news and views the regime would prefer to suppress. I for one see it developing into a fully-fledged online news source with daily comment and analysis.
It’s already arguably the most read source for all concerned with and interested in Fiji which proves that people still crave an independent reliable source of information.
Of course propaganda works (look at Putin’s Russia) but that doesn’t mean people believe the media and, in any case, its time is limited as dictators throughout history have found to their resultant cost in health damage.
But look ahead. What will happen in the media when Bainimarama, Khaiyum and their cronies and accomplices are in hell, prison or exile?
Of course the older former journalists who in their shameless greed and ambition have turned their backs on principle will slink away to whatever countries will take them (or try to), but what will happen to those young, eager students who have never known the discipline of a real newsroom but who have learned to faithfully reproduce what a corrupt and demanding regime provides them?
Most instinctively know that this is not journalism but lack the opportunity or direction from their “trainers” to ask the hard questions.
Will they ever be able to offer their country the kind of honest journalism its citizens and residents deserve?
Of course they will. But there will be a period of grave uncertainty before that can begin to happen.
This is your final chance to nominate brave and inspiring artists, journalists and activists for our Freedom of Expression Awards. Can you help us to defy censorship and share this opportunity with people and organisations doing such important work?
Winners will be celebrated at our gala in London on 13th April 2016 and join the Index Awards Fellowship - a dedicated programme of training and support for free expression heroes. Nominations can come from anywhere. They are open to anybody - individuals or organisations. And nominations are completely free.
The closing date is less than a week away: 10.00 (GMT) on Tuesday 20th October.
Thank you for your help.
Head of Events, Index on Censorship