Pacific Media Watch

29 March 2012

FIJI: Australian and New Zealand media slammed at summit

Hero image
Fiji Sun general manager Leone Cabenatabua (right) has criticised Australian and New Zealand media for reporting straight from blogs. Photo: USP

Maika Bolatiki
SUVA (Fiji Sun/Pacific Media Watch): Australian and New Zealand news media were yesterday criticised for using anonymous anti-government sites as a source of information on Fiji.

Fiji Sun general manager of publications Leone Cabenatabua made the comment yesterday at the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Pacific Media Summit at the Lagoon Resort, Pacific Harbour, Deuba.

Lost credibility
“Media outlets that the Pacific islands once looked up to make no apparent efforts whatsoever to verify allegations made on such blog sites," he said.

“Some even reported Commodore Bainimarama was dead … based solely on a discredited anonymous blog site.

“Commodore Bainimarama was in fact on a trip to China to promote Chinese investment in Fiji. Where have their media ethics gone to report such nonsense from such discredited blog sites?”

Cabenatabua was among speakers at a PINA conference session on whether the public should believe social media content. He said: “That choice whether to believe in social media content rests with the individual. However, for us in the news media, we should always show responsibility when it comes to using social media content in our stories.”

'Nonsense' from blogs
Cabenatabua questioned Australian and New Zealand news media reporting “nonsense” from discredited sources like the infamous blogsite, Coup fourpointfive.

He listed a series of false claims made by Coup fourpointfive and said: “We should know better than to just report the claims of an anonymous blog site run by faceless people promoting disinformation and racial hatred.

“Unfortunately, some in Australia and New Zealand seem more interested in discrediting Fiji than getting it right.”

Cabenatabua said it was a different story with blog sites like those run by prominent New Zealand academics, Professor David Robie and Dr Crosbie Walsh.

They, he said, wrote good “analytical pieces for us to ponder on and share ideas of our progress”.

Cabenatabua said there were many good uses for social media. “But as journalists, we must be more professional and more responsible than some of those who use social media to spread misinformation."

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