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Date Posted: 01:57:52 05/24/05 Tue
Author: Ranjit Singh
Subject: Media responsibility in Fiji

Open letter to the Fiji Sun editor (May 22):

Media Responsibility

Dear Sir,

As both New Zealand and Fiji are heading for election, one sooner than the other, a major challenge for Publishers, CEOs and Editors of media is how to counteract accusations of political bias and favouritism for one party or the other.

Of course columnists or political writers employed by newspapers may have their own political leanings and provincial or vanua loyalty and it is essential to see through their writings to siphon off any bias.

I sensed one such perceived bias in Maika Bolatiki‚s column on Thursday, 19th May, 2005, titled "Road from May 19, 2000".

This good piece of writing ended off with: "With the ghost of the 2000 haunting nation in the last five years, the economy has been put on the path of growth and is creating employment. Investment, so vital for rebuilding, has started to increase and we must thank the government of the day for that."

However, a day after that the Reserve Bank of Fiji announced a gloomy picture for Fiji, with slower growth, a larger deficit, depressed exports and job losses.

Scandals after scandals, the economic downturn, institutionalised racism, unbridled corruption, uncontrolled spending and extremely poor governance had brought Fiji to brinks of bankruptcy, yet your columnist sneaked in his comments, thanking the government of the day for everything they have done completely opposite.

I certainly hope that your paper, as well as other media in Fiji, will be careful as we approach the elections. The media bosses have to guard against such unsubstantiated bias and such manufactured journalism that appears to reveal a political skewing.

However, I am confident, media in Fiji can still be counted as relatively free, and credit for this goes to the professionals who head such organisations, including yours.

Keep up your good work as we approach a challenging period.

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Auckland, New Zealand

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