Let’s Cel­e­brate and Trea­sure Our Me­dia free­dom

Fiji Sun - - Comment - NE­MANI DE­LAIBATIKI Feed­back: ne­mani.de­laibatiki@fi­jisun.com.fj

On this World Me­dia Free­dom Day we in Fiji can cel­e­brate that we have a ro­bust print and elec­tronic me­dia. Me­dia free­dom is real, not merely a per­cep­tion as some peo­ple claim. They still live in an era when there was cen­sor­ship and me­dia con­trol. That pe­riod has long gone and the me­dia are now free to prac­tise. Most of what is in the me­dia law now was there be­fore. The most sig­nif­i­cant change was the penal­ties for those breach­ing the pro­vi­sions of the Me­dia Code.

The penalty for jour­nal­ists has been re­pealed so that should re­move any fear. But reser­va­tions are still be­ing voiced and they come from those who have a po­lit­i­cal agenda. The bot­tom line is jour­nal­ists who do their ba­sics right and make sure that they ful­fill the cri­te­ria - Ac­cu­rate, fair and balanced, and in the pub­lic in­ter­est - should not fear. All free­dom, how­ever, comes with re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Fi­jian jour­nal­ists are also for­tu­nate that they do not have to go through threats and ha­rass­ment and phys­i­cal vi­o­lence that some of their col­leagues in some over­seas coun­tries go through. World Press Free­dom Day “is an op­por­tu­nity to: cel­e­brate the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of press free­dom; as­sess the state of press free­dom through­out the world; de­fend the me­dia from at­tacks on their in­de­pen­dence; and pay trib­ute to jour­nal­ists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.” Me­dia Free­dom en­sures that democ­racy flour­ishes. Jour­nal­ists, through their work, help the peo­ple to en­gage in pub­lic dis­cus­sions over many is­sues that af­fect their lives. This news­pa­per has re­cently en­gaged the pub­lic in lively dis­cus­sions over a range of is­sues from rape and vi­o­lence against women to the lit­ter prob­lem, car­nage on our roads, abuse of al­co­hol and il­le­gal drugs. A free me­dia are an im­por­tant part­ner in na­tional de­vel­op­ment.

They will recog­nise and sup­port pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments but also high­lights abuse of pub­lic funds and cor­rup­tion. To­day we pay trib­ute to those jour­nal­ists who have gone be­fore us and up­held the val­ues and ethics and kept the jour­nal­ism torch burn­ing. The onus is on us to con­tinue the legacy.

Fi­jian jour­nal­ists are also for­tu­nate that they do not have to go through threats and ha­rass­ment and phys­i­cal vi­o­lence that some of their com­rades in some over­seas coun­tries go through.

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