Let’s Celebrate and Treasure Our Media freedom
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The penalty for journalists has been repealed so that should remove any fear.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.