17 Feb 2004

Fiji's prime minister slams media standards when opening commonwealth journalists conference

4:39 pm on 17 February 2004

Fiji's Prime Minister has strongly criticised local and international media standards at the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association conference in Nadi.

Laisenia Qarase, who officially opened the conference this morning, says journalism standards in Fiji and the rest of the world are getting worse.

Mr Qarase went so far as to say that there is a real crisis in Fiji.

"The levels of expertise and professionalism, especially in news operations and reporting, are not good. There are some exceptions, journalists and broadcasters who can be trusted to get it right. I do not mean getting it right from a politician's standpoint. I am speaking of the basis of reporting the facts, ensuring balance and placing stories in an accurate context, that's all. In the main, our reporters, editors, presenters and interviewers tend to be ill-equipped for a crucial job. The result is often inaccuracy, misinformation, distortion and bias"

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

The conference is being attended by hundreds of media people from around the Commonwealth.


The Chief Executive of the Fiji Broadcasting Association, Francis Herman, says local industry standards aren't as bad as painted by Mr Qarase.

Despite the prime ministers comments today, I don't think its all that bad. It is not where I would like it to be. I agree with the prime minister's comments that there needs to be a shift upwards, there needs to be a drastic improvement. But the news selection I would say is one sided. There's a lot more bias towards the bad news. If the govt just want us to give just the good news, that's a no no. That's impossible.22

Francis Herman says they are trying to raise industry standards and retain experienced journalists, but it's difficult when funding for public broadcasting has been cut.