FIJI TIMES DISMISSES CHIEF-OF-STAFF MARGARET WISE

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 12, 2002 -- Daily Post/Pacific Media Watch)--- Fiji Times chief-of-staff Margaret Wise has been dismissed for allegedly leaking editorial material to other media organizations yesterday, reports the Daily Post.

Fiji Times Ltd. managing director Tony Yianni said the act was "considered grossly unprofessional and utterly unethical."

Yianni said the material had been rejected [editorially] for legal reasons.

Wise claimed allegations against her were not true.

She believes the management should have given her the opportunity to reply since "I have served them faithfully for the last 10 years."

"I would have expected, given the nature of my work, that they would have given me the opportunity to reply," Wise said.

"The allegations are baseless."

It is understood Wise wrote to the editor-in-chief, Russel Hunter, on behalf of the staff regarding their concerns on how to handle stories concerning individuals who are subjected to police investigations and have not been charged.

Wise claims they (staff) wanted clear directions on the writing of the stories because there have been cases in the past where reporters have run stories of people who are still under police investigation and have even named them.

Wise claims that in letters written by Hunter there were no explanations of why the materials had been rejected, since the staff wanted to know.

*Pacific Media Watch reports that Margaret Wise was at the center of controversy over her reporting of the Chaudhry Labour-led Government ousted in George Speight's putsch on May 19, 2000.

She has also been at the center of a long-running paternity case against former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka. He was reported in the Fiji Times of July 26 to have agreed to pay her F$ 32.50 (US$ 15.02) a week in child maintenance following a hearing in the Domestic Court.

Wise is the third senior Fijian editorial person to have been recently ousted at the Fiji Times following disputes with the Australian editor-in-chief; former deputy editor Netani Rika resigned to become news director at Fiji TV and deputy chief reporter Matelita Ragogo resigned to take up further journalism studies and freelance work.

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