Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reading between the lines

from w
A song from Fiddler on the Roof is buzzing in my head since I did some sketches a couple of days ago of rooftops and chimneys near where we live. It's a crazy kind of song and here is the chorus:
If I were a rich man,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn't have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.
Then it got me thinking 'If I were an editor........' so here are a few thoughts about reading between the lines of Fiji news media and some of the blogs.

The newspapers certainly have calmed down in the last few weeks with bland stories, handouts from the powerbrokers, dreams and visions for the future without much substance, cold stories instead of hot, lots of spin in a positive light for the ministries and departments, so what is the truth 'between the lines'? The reader has to make up their own 'truth' from the downright spinning, facts, biases, prejudices, hints and lies.

Firstly the blogs. Some do provide breaking news that is not allowed into the Fiji newspapers and websites and thank you for that. Some blogs show a compassionate view. However a few posts are not insightful but are inciteful - occasionally promoting violence - which to me is just not on. Also it is really distasteful when people are attacked in such as way as to hurt families. A wife has not much to do with her husband's antics. Children are not to be blamed for parents doing this or that. There is nastiness in some posts. I love cartoons but at the present we can't make too many jokes unfortunately. One blog writer - from New Zealand I think - tries to balance the political news, but then there is a bias emerging as you read between the lines - rationalizing the decisions made. Other writers - some of the overseas journos - come out strongly, but really, they are not on the ground in Suva, where ordinary people say, nothing much is happening, or at least we don't know about it.

As for the Fiji newspapers - I like the journalist from babasiga land as she, and Serafina who used to do this, does tell all kinds of stories about what is happening in Macuata. Vina'a va'alevu Theresa. But we, on the internet, get the short version of stories and not enough pictures. Where are the pictures of the new Navuso bridge? That was an event of interest to many people. I did think it was funny when the Fiji Times had blank spaces - after the censors started overlooking the journos screens, but such humour was not appreciated. The space as silence was news in itself

One thing I have noticed though - in the spins given to the media as handouts - is the influence of China in Fiji. Should we be making a comparision between the Greek myth of the wooden horse? Gifts are not always pure-hearted. There is a catch. Reciprocity in some way is expected. A vote at the United Nations? An averted eye to fishing? An influx of foreigners into Fiji? Hmmmm.

And here's my five bob's worth on censorship. I do not like it but the power of the press means that policians want some commentaries curtailed. Robie wrote in a paper a few years ago: 'Politicians frequently speak out on how the media ought to be “responsible”, i.e. either self-censor to the benefit of the government of the day, or propagandise on its behalf. Normal independent reporting and questioning by the media is often seen by some politicians as tantamount to subversion. Thus politicians are often tempted to impose gagging or licensing laws.' So that is the situation at present. Do the censors actually read every story presented? Are they qualified to be 'editors'?

Be alert. Be alarmed. As someone in Australia once said. Don't believe everything you read in print or on the screen.


Andrew Thornley said...

Dear Wendy,
Yours was a very thoughtful contribution to the current situation. As you rightly point out, there are some unpleasant currents among the river of truth that is telling us about events in Fiji. But the overwhelming flow is leading us to a point of understanding that cannot be avoided.
To me, the most disturbing developments in the beautiful land of Fiji are the gradual disappearance of a credible legal system on the one hand and, on the other, the slow crushing of the freedom of religious expression. So what we are witnessing (from a historical perspective)is the potential "fall" of gains hard fought-for in the past: the securing of the lotu in 1854 and the acceptance of British law in 1874. Once these are gone, we are left with the "rule of the club". Is that an acceptable finality?

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Thank you Andrew for your comments. I feel unable to express myself well on this blog which is not anonymous. My prayer is that the Fiji people will see truth where it exists and find solutions that are about respect and not about winning. Ordinary life in Fiji - going through floods and hurricanes - is enough to bear. Fortunately the people are resilient - though stress and failure and powerlessness surely do make some fall by the wayside.