Sunday, October 07, 2007
Stan Ritova, retired Fiji journalist
Here's a story about a guy whose mother is from Naseakula from the chiefly Ritova family, and his father, Whippy, a sea captain. Stan worked at first as a journalist in the Labasa office and had adventures later on as recounted here in a Fiji Times feature article. In the photo he is pictured with Stan Simpson who was honoured with a journalism award in Suva.
Adventures of a spontaneous spiritSunday, October 07, 2007
IN his long career as a journalist in Fiji, Stan Ritova has had many adventures and covered many exciting stories but there is one particular incident that still gives him a rush of adrenaline.
It all happened because of his belief that journalists should be spontaneous and look for the stories people will want to read about. That is what led him to Fiji's rural areas.
"I spent most of my time as a journalist in the rural areas but nobody told me to do this," he recalls. I used to travel a lot and I would just jump on a plane and go to Savusavu or Labasa and do features or 'countrywide'."
It was one such trip that led him to an oil rig close to the Tongan Islands.
"I met this guy who was in Labasa during one of my trips and I asked him what he was doing there. He said he was working on a supply ship and he told me that he was going to take the supplies to an oil rig, which was on its way to the Persian Gulf from Canada," Mr. Ritova said.
Thinking he could get a good story, he decided to join his new friend on his trip to the oil rig. "So I went with him and my God I had never been so sick in my whole life. Four days we travelled because the supply boat was not a very big vessel and it diddled and danced. And then early one morning he woke me up and said come, this is what you came for'. We were near this island near Tonga and there was this huge rig like a city and it was all lit up and moving and when we got close to it, it looked like a 10-storey building and moving! I asked this man how we were going to get up there and he told me to wait and see," he said.
Mr. Ritova said they hovered near the oil rig at about ten in the morning and to his amazement a huge wrench came down to pull their supply boat. "He told me that the regulation was that we were not allowed to sit while the wrench was pulling us up and we had to stand up because if anything happened, we would have to jump down. There were these big sharks following the rig and I told him that there was no way I was going to stand up all the way to the top of the rig. I told him I was going to sit down and when we reached the top I saw how they worked and we didn't leave the rig until about four in the afternoon."
Mr. Ritova also recalled when he was allowed to spend close to two weeks with the New Zealand military, dressed in their uniform and eating their ration. "We spent some time with the NZ army when they came to train here and I got to dress up in their army uniform and I stayed with them in the bushes and camped with them, eating their ration in camp," he said.
Mr. Ritova said his work is important to him and his advice to young people who are thinking of joining the media industry is to have total commitment to the profession.
"The young journalists in Fiji are very good because of the formal training they received. But as I said to become a journalist you have to be very dedicated.
"I more or less neglected my family too but I had a very strong wife who was a nurse and she raised the kids when I was away.
"I treated my work very importantly because it was part of my life."
Mr. Ritova was forced to take some time off from his busy journalism career some years back due to health reasons but says he never stopped working and is now working hard to get an online Pacific News website launched.
"I have been in Sydney for the past seven years after I got sick. I have to have my dialysis injection every two days but I am still very involved in the work," he said.
Mr. Ritova is working at finishing his book on the newspaper industry in Fiji and now that he has been honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fiji Awards for Media Excellence last week, he says he will work extra hard to get the book out of the way.
"I am very proud of it. Honestly, I am very proud of the fact that I am the third living person to receive that award because the other two winners Sir Leonard Usher and Robert Keith-Reid also received the award but only after they died."