8 Oct 2010

Fiji Times' independence strengthened by editor's departure says publisher

4:00 pm on 8 October 2010

The new publisher of the Fiji Times, Dallas Swinstead, says the paper's independence has been strengthened by the departure of its former editor, Netani Rika.

Mr Rika, known for his beliefs in media freedom and independence, resigned and the deputy editor took leave just two weeks after News Limited of Australia sold the paper to Fiji's Motibhai group in line with a media decree curbing foreign ownership.

Mr Swinstead, who is from Australia, says there was no pressure on them to depart.

"It's independence has been strengthened enormously because it's no longer seen to be a biased newspaper. The new levels are set by the army, lots of people don't like it, but every time we see a picture of Bainimarama, he looks like a dictator. Well, that's not what he is."

Dallas Swinstead says he and the Fiji Times' new editor are in step in terms of breathing life into the paper and making it a real part of the community.