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Davis: Reporters should be ashamed to get things wrong

By Leone Cabenatabua

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, March 29, 2012) – "Get it right. Shame those who don’t."

This message by Fiji-born international award-winning journalist, Graham Davis was imparted to participants at the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Pacific Media Summit at Pacific Harbor, Deuba yesterday.

Mr. Davis was amongst speakers in the opening conference session of the three-day summit.

In a session on Building Public Trust in the Media, Mr. Davis spoke of the importance of the news media doing this themselves.

He told news media executives and journalists from throughout the region: "I’d like to proffer one suggestion to address the central question of how we can all enhance the credibility and integrity of what we do.

"There’s an old saying in Fiji when someone behaves inappropriately – ‘Oilei, No Shame.’

"No-one has to explain the dictionary meaning of shame – the painful feeling arising from being conscious that something dishonorable has happened.

"I think we need to rediscover the power of shame when it comes to violations of basic journalistic practice… to feel shame ourselves when they’re breached and to collectively shame others who do the breaching."

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, Fiji Sun head Leone Cabenatabua has slammed online bloggers for misinforming regional journalism and media. Media must show responsibility, Cabenatabua said, to be vigilant against unverified, irresponsible media content. "We should know better than to just report the claims of an anonymous blog site run by faceless people promoting disinformation and racial hatred," in reference to the notorious anti-government blog Coup Four and a Half.]

"Shame could and should have prevented the Fiji Times, during the Qarase years, from running a story calling for Indians in Fiji to be thinned out.

"It was a humiliating slap in the face for more than a third of the country – and offended a large proportion of Fiji Times readers of all races, many of whom haven’t forgotten."

Mr. Davis said shame can and should prevent bad journalism in even the most modest media outlet in the smallest pacific nation.

"Poor research… sloppy writing…not doing the stories or the readers justice…not treating them with the respect they deserve.

"It’s a small start and to a sophisticated audience like this, it may sound trite.

"But in the Pacific context, shame is something we’re all sensitive to. And if it can change behavior at village level, it can change behavior in the media."

[PIR editor’s note: Elsewhere, PNG deputy secretary of information and communications Paulius Korini has been harangued by regional journalists for his comments that media should not challenge government decisions. Kalafi Moala of Tonga's Taimi Media Network has criticized the statement as bringing the "wrong message" to the PINA summit. "For him to spit it out and to tell media what to do in terms of their job and their objectives... that is really to me a streak of real arrogance... and ignorance," said Moala.]


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