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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 22, 2001 - Pacific Media Watch/Niuswire)---A leading Fiji newspaper publisher has warned against "black banning by editors," calling for local media to be more ready to acknowledge their mistakes and to apologize.

Ranjit Singh, publisher and general manager of Fiji’s Daily Post, said this was an important role of responsible news media.

Speaking at the launching of The Pacific Journalist: A Practical Guide, edited by David Robie, and two other University of the South Pacific journalism books last night, Singh said reporters did make errors and news media should have the courage to "say we made an error and are sorry for this."

"If media organizations go this way and editors and other newsroom staff stop acting as little gods, publishers will have more comfort because issues which have potential to develop into litigation could be nipped in the bud," he said.

However, Singh said news organizations should not "bow down to any threat" if the story was right and balanced.

"I will back my newsroom team all the way if some big busybody tries to threaten them from doing their job," he said.

Singh also criticized the tendency of Fiji media not to acknowledge other media in their reporting.

"I know of radio stories directly reading news from my paper without the courtesy of an acknowledgement," he said.

"One station picked a topic on suicide for its radio talkback, reading from my Ramneek Jyoti without acknowledging this fact."

During last year’s political upheaval, the Daily Post launched a new Hindi weekly newspaper in August.

"While I was invited to speak to BBC on this, the local media failed to report it," Singh said.

He cited several other examples and challenged whether news of positive developments in rival media organisations was "black-banned by today’s editors."

Singh also criticized the practice of some news organisations for publishing racially discriminatory advertisements. He called for legislation against such advertising, as was the case in Australia and New Zealand.

Launching the three books, Vice Chancellor Savenaca Siwatibau said that no matter how hard news media worked it seemed to suffer criticisms for "misreporting and never getting it right."

"The need to professionally train journalists becomes more and more important as journalism is not just about getting the story right but about understanding the context of the story," he said.

He said The Practical Journalist would go a long way to serving student and working journalists to help them understand what good and proper journalism was about.

Siwatibau also launched Mohi Prasad’s collection of poetry, Eating Mangoes, and Robert Nicole’s book about literature and colonialism in Tahiti, The Word, the Pen and the Pistol.

The vice chancellor said the contrasting and diverse range of launched books reflected the dynamic and professional work of USP, which matched overseas universities.

Title -- 3271 FIJI: Publisher tells media: apologies over blunders Date -- 22 March 2001 Byline -- Media release Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- PMW/USP Journalism, 22/3/1 Copyright -- PMW/USP Journalism Status -- Unabridged

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