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AUDIO: Fiji media still self-censoring, says media academic

Professor Robert Hooper ... worried over the media freedom in Fiji. Image:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Item: 8321

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch / ABC Radio Australia): A journalism educator from the United States says Fiji's media are practising severe self-censorship. 

Professor Robert Hooper, a professor at University of California, San Diego who has taught journalism in Fiji, has just published an academic paper in the Pacific Journalism Review called "When the barking stopped: Censorship, self-censorship and spin in Fiji".

He says if the press cannot do its job by bringing serious issues to light, all of society suffers in the long run.

Although the coup installed military government insists Fiji's media are completely free to report what they want, Professor Hooper tells Bruce Hill that's not the case at all:

It's false. And, you know, until January of 2012, which is just over a year ago, there was a Public Emergency Regulation called PER, that literally censors into the newsroom, generally at noon and four, to look at every single report that was going to go out on Fiji TV.

They would go through the scripts; they would go through the video; they would choose the ones they wanted to censor; they would take the video tape that they didn't like; they would actually walk off with it and that was that. So the media up until a year ago had overt censorship, and in a sense, as I said in my paper, reporters almost felt more comfortable with that, because they would do the stories and if the stories were allow to air they wouldn't get into trouble.

PER was rescinded later, but this has only led to a more difficult situation for journalists, Hooper says, because Fiji still has a Media Development Decree which can be interpreted any way the regime wants. 

Listen to the full Radio Australia interview with Professor Robert Hooper here

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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