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Research

The Fiji 2000 coup: A media analysis


2000 attempted coup leader George Speight.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Christine Gounder

Gounder, C. (2006). The Fiji 2000 coup: A media analysis. Unpublished MCS thesis, School of Communication Studies, AUT University. Scholarly Commons@AUT
http://aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/handle/10292/77

Abstract

This thesis examines the role of both the local and international media during the May 2000 coup, to determine whether the coverage was fair and to suggest solutions for the future. It will first discuss and compare literature that has been written on the Fiji coups, focusing on literature on the media and the coups in particular.

According to Fowler (1991) the role of a journalist is to collect facts, report them objectively and present them fairly and without bias in language which is designed to be unambiguous, undistorting and agreeable to readers. However, in most times this is not the case. A thematic content analysis will be done on news articles that appeared in The Fiji Times, The New Zealand Herald and The Australian to find common themes during the coverage of the crisis.

A lot of criticism of the both the local and international media’s role during the May 2000 coup emerged after the crisis. Critics included editors and journalists of the local and international media and political and historical analysts who knew the ‘real reasons’ behind the coup and did not see this being reported. A summary of interviews with journalists and editors who covered the coup, both local and overseas, will give an insight into their thoughts and reactions during the coup. It will also determine whether the journalists suffered from the Stockholm syndrome.

The Stockholm syndrome describes the behaviour of kidnap victims or people who associate a lot with the captors, and who over time become sympathetic to their captors. The name is derived from a 1973 hostage siege in Stockholm, Sweden when at the end of six days of captivity at a bank; several kidnap victims actually resisted rescue attempts, and afterwards refused to testify against their captors. During the Fiji coup, apart from George Speight's supporters, journalists were the only ones who spent a lot of time with the coup leader either at press conferences or staying at Parliament to get good stories. As a result, some journalists began to ‘sway’ towards Speight or began to experience the Stockholm syndrome which was reflected in their stories.

The thesis concludes that a few journalists in Fiji did suffer from the Stockholm syndrome. It also concludes that a crisis manual is needed for media organisations in Fiji to avoid the same mistakes being repeated as in the last three coups. The overseas media on the other hand need to attach themselves to the local media to avoid parachute journalism and inaccurate reporting. Overseas media organisations need to assign special reporters to Pacific Island affairs to understand the culture and other complex issues which would help in reporting their issues fairly and accurately.

USP 2000 coup journalism archive at UTS, Sydney

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