REMAIN IMPARTIAL, FIJI JOURNALISTS TOLD

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 1, 2002 – Fiji Sun/Pacific Media Watch)---Fiji Media Council chairman Daryl Tarte says journalists must be careful not to align themselves with political parties and large organizations in order to safeguard their partiality and objectivity, reports the Fiji Sun.

And they must at all times ensure that their judgment is not clouded when reporting on issues they have an interest in.

Tarte said a reporter could take up an honorary position in an organization as long as he or she was not biased towards it.

His comments follow reports that Radio Fiji's newly appointed news director, Mesake Koroi, has been appointed president of the Fiji West Papuan Foundation.

Koroi said yesterday that his group would try to lobby for support for the West Papuan freedom rights at the upcoming July African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) meeting in Nadi.

"I do not see anything wrong with his appointment as president of that organization because it won't have much to do with his work as editor of the news department, but it certainly will affect his judgment when the West Papuan issues come to the fore," Tarte said.

He warned, however, that he was more concerned with Koroi's impartiality on matters concerning his political affiliation.

Islands Business International editor-in-chief Laisa Taga said Koroi's involvement in the West Papuan movement was "coloring" his credibility as a journalist.

"Journalists must always be seen to be impartial and he cannot afford to be a reporter and an activist at the same time," Taga said.

"If and when he does both, where will he draw the line and what guarantee is there that he will not be impartial when issues on West Papua need objectivity?"

Koroi told reporters that his relationship and political affiliations would not affect his judgment and work as a journalist.

Koroi and Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase are first cousins while his son-in-law, academic Dr. Robert Wolfgramm, is actively involved with the West Papuan freedom movement in Australia.

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