May 03, 2007

Power to the press (blogs and all)

Today the world marks Media Freedom Day and in Fiji, now more than ever, we must reflect on the basics of a free press and what it means in a country in a perpetual state of “emergency”.

Intelligentsiya was born after journalists became too intimidated because of direct or indirect threats against them or their organisations by the military who seized power on December 5, 2006. We continue to aim to be an outlet for level-headed opinion, report events that don’t get mainstream coverage and express “intelligent resistance” to the military junta that is in power – all rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution.

This year, blogs have thrust themselves into Fiji and the world’s media spotlight as a free, anonymous way to express views and news, not all of them palatable or true. Still, it shows the media landscape during this coup has dramatically changed, with the mainstream media often picking up items from blogs and broadcasting widely.

In all our reporting we did make about two mistakes – notably the one about a death in Vanua Levu at the hands of soldiers. A man was indeed beaten badly, a fact that the military did not expressly deny. The only denial was that the man did not die. We are not making excuses for the mistake but it does illustrate the difficulties in reporting in a country with a climate of fear – trying to obtain basic information is hard because people are afraid of the consequences of speaking out.

If Fiji's media was truly uninitimidated, they would have travelled to Vanua Levu (we have a name and village of the man in question which was passed on to some journalists) and tried to find out exactly what happened to the man, who was apparently missing from his village after the beating. But, this did not happen, and the military succeeded in putting more fear into journalists.

Today we hail all the brave journalists of our region among them the late Robert Keith-Reid, who was never afraid to tell it like it is, and Michael Field, who kindly allowed a special feature he wrote to be published on Intelligentsiya, pointing to the likelihood of another coup.

In the argument for a free media, the military is always suggesting that the media has been “irresponsible” at times deliberately. But on the whole, reporters face an uphill battle trying to get “official” comment from the powers that be and often have to deal with aggressive military-types while reporting.

To all journalists in Fiji and abroad, facing such intimidation, remember it is a battle of the minds. Do not be intimidated by the threats, direct or indirect. And while this may be easy to say, we realise the reality is not always pretty. So ultimately it comes down to the individual journalists, and whether they have the heart, passion and courage to face down military oppression.

Stay safe and freedom for all.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work. Although the Commodore may state that media freedom is to be upheld we know that the actions of the military speak louder than his words. So continue to publish your blog. I visit your website each morning and I am not the only one doing this.

Anonymous said...

I thought I heard one of the comments at the media freedom public forum about the need for the media to be responsible and balanced in its news reporting at this "sensitive" time. But I wonder how balanced you can be when one side is plainly wrong, and the other, plainly right? It would be like trying to deliver balance in a debate about whether paedophilia should be legalised. The responsibility of the media in that case should surely be to tell the truth and stand up for what's right - not to try and wet-nurse a point of view that is blatantly wrong and repugnant!
Well, the same goes for treason and coups!
And those who partake in, or succour, this most heinous of civil crimes should not expect any favours or leniency from journos. Let them face the full and merciless scrutiny of the unrestrained press I say! Let them see if their rationalising and self-justification can stand up under that kind of public cross-examination!

Freedom4Fiji said...

We hear you. Where we can say that we understand, truly, would be a lie. How can we understad something that we have never experienced? So, we can truthfuly tell you that we wil try to understand. Your message, is loud and clear however. That of the freedom of the press. That is something that should never, ever be denied. The current governments of today realise that to control the media, is to control the people. Easily manipulated, if you will, due to the fact that, the people, have always relied on the news to tell the truth. Sadly, that day has now come to an end. It may take some people a while, to realise that.

We need to return our faith to the people themselves.

Never before, has it become more vital for people to speak out.

Belive it or not - now.. the people have a weapon. The weapon is that of the internet. The weapon is that of blog sites, such that this one. WE can now all express our feelings.. openly and publicly.. now is our chance to speak out.

Once upon a time.. the people were only heard once, every voting time. when their voices counted. that was then. this is now.

People

Hear me

Our time to be heard. Is. NOW.
Blog your brains out!

Our weapon is the internet. Lets use it to its fullest. Let them read our feelings on all that matters. Our blogs count. The proof is in the publicity!

Speak/ BLOG NOW.

Or be happy with the future you get.

From.
The Freedom4Fiji Fighters. 2007.

Anonymous said...

Freedom comes with responsibility, Journalist suppose to report the news not creating the news,

Anonymous said...

This blog is becoming a racist site, I get this gut feeling that this site is becoming a propanganda against the Indians in Fiji, just like the previous two coups did. One just has to read the various moderated comments. You cannot achieve democracy or put Bai to right path by showing that the Indians are using him to take revenge. Take the issues at face value. You can not blame Indians for ever. Do not bring race into this.

Anonymous said...

Why dont you guys offer some advise to your sister blog site,RFC. They are beginning to play the race card. They have just lost it and the whole purpose of your blogging has gone down the drain. You're all just the same as the junta. Who do we turn to now?

Anonymous said...

To Anon (7/5/7 13:13) - Which blog, post or comment on this site accused Indians of using Vore for revenge? Who else brought race into this apart from you? There are no racist comments (except yours) streaming off this particular post, and there are no racist comments in the story in question. You sound just like another military media cell ghost-poster trying to propaganda deflect peoples' attention away from the real issues raised in the story itself, by deliberate mislabelling.

Anonymous said...

To Anon above: go and read other issues in this blog. I hope you are not blind, or pretending to be blind. Just read other stories and soon you will realize what racial propaganda this blog is trying to generate.

Anonymous said...

This blog is indeed crating a platform for "hate Indians", just read this: "the secret to revive the sugar industry", "selling Fiji to India", "Muslim connection to the Coup", "civil war, watch out Indians", theres more in this blog.

Anonymous said...

To Anons @ 13.13;17.43;13.35; 13.56: The great thing about perception sweeties, is that they're yours..!

Keep blogging guys & gals!!

Anonymous said...

To Anons (9/5 13:56 & 13:57) - Your posts are so chronologically close together that I suspect you're the same person.
I also suspect that the pro military ghost-posters are so outnumbered by the freedom commenters that they typically only have time to write a few short lines so that they can try to get as many comments out as possible, so as to make it look like there are actually more pro-military commenters than there really are.
Anyway, to the point at hand - the racist label may be applicable to some of the other freedom blogs and comments, but NOT THIS ONE. The so-called racist stories that you named as being on this site are a figment of your hidden agenda imagination because there simply are NO SUCH STORIES! My personal experience is that this site has always been very responsible in the way it blogs and moderates comments.
So again I say, your attempts at racist mislabelling are simply a propaganda attempt to pre-empt people from reading the arguments presented here! Because anyone who reads the contents of this blog with an open mind, and judges them on their own merits will see that the military has practically NO moral or intellectual case to justify its crimes against Fiji!
So too late losers - this horse has already bolted!