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By Frederica Elbourne

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Jan. 5) - A Media Standards Authority should be introduced to guide editors on reporting ethical issues, the Fiji Labor Party said yesterday.

This would ensure that the media are not used as a vehicle for the agendas of certain interest groups and persons, the party said.

It should ensure that all forms of local media follow the code of practice to the letter and in good faith and spirit, party leader and Leader of Opposition Mahendra Chaudhry said yesterday.

Information Minister Ahmed Ali said a homegrown Fiji solution would achieve "our goals of high standard journalism" and correct information distribution.

He said well-trained journalists with integrity were needed. Such journalists, he said, should be dedicated to their profession, values and principles.

"I do not favor importing expensive foreign models beyond our means and needs or slavishly following others merely to be fashionable," Ali said. "We already have a Media Council of Fiji and with modifications to reflect our cultural diversity and appreciate our people’s sensitivities it would serve us better than some regulating authority."

The authority, said Chaudhry, should follow the British Press Complaints Commission example. But the Media Council of Fiji said that in Britain many news organizations have a bias.

"You know which side of the spectrum each newspaper has, and that’s in a country like Britain," said council secretary Bob Pratt. "In a small place like Fiji, every news agency cannot be expected to have its biases although I believe no reporter can be completely unbiased. You must have an opinion somewhere along the way."

Chaudhry said with the general elections around the corner there was a need for media organizations to realize the importance of their role in informing the public.

January 6, 2005


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