Monday, October 8, 2007

New NZ survey exposes disgruntled journos

A survey of more than 500 New Zealand journalists has revealed marked unhappiness about levels of pay, resourcing and training, reports the Pacific Media Centre. The “Big Journalism 2007” survey found that, while many individual journalists are very satisfied with aspects of their jobs, overall most want improvements in (respectively) pay, support, mentoring and staffing levels.They want more opportunity for discussion and input into ethical and professional issues such as sensationalism, more guidance on how to cope with commercial and advertising pressures, and more time and resources to pursue investigations. The survey, titled "Under-paid, under-trained, under-resourced, unsure about the future - but still idealistic", published in the latest Pacific Journalism Review, is the first to ask NZ journalists what they think about a variety of topics such as quality of news coverage and their ethics and standards.
The survey revealed a generally ethical stance among journalists, with most agreeing that NZ journalists do not omit or distort relevant facts, and that stories are based on journalistic rather than political or commercial values. Asked to rate the quality of NZ news coverage, journalists rated sports coverage the highest, while foreign coverage got the lowest rating, at slightly below average.
The survey was conducted jointly by Massey University lecturers James Hollings, Alan Samson and Dr Elspeth Tilley, and Waikato University associate professor Geoff Lealand. It builds on Dr Lealand's previous surveys of NZ journalists.
The old and the new journos, according to cartoonist Malcolm Evans.

Friday, October 5, 2007

TV3's Pacific broadcasting 'loophole' dubious

New Zealand's rugby World Cup broadcaster TV3 this week launched a bold 'Pacific loophole' plan to evade strict Sunday morning advertising laws. But doubts remain about the legality. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage says TV3 could still be breaching the Broadcasting Act. TV3 had previously confirmed it would play commercials at this time - starting with tomorrow's quarterfinal between the All Blacks and the host nation France in Cardiff - but had not revealed how it would achieve this within the restrictions in the law. [All Blacks beaten by Michalak's magic]. TV3, in an arrangement with Fiji TV, will be transmitting its entire signal for the event to 18 countries and territories in the Pacific.
The additional countries or territories that the signal reaches are: Tahiti, Cook Islands, Tonga, American Samoa, Samoa, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Niue, Kiribati, Nauru, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea,Guam, The Marshall Islands, Northern Marianas.
There are three requirements in the Broadcasting Act which allow for Sunday morning advertising. The signal for the programme must:
1. Originate outside New Zealand;
2. Be transmitted simultaneously to both New Zealand audiences and audiences outside New Zealand;
3. Be targeted primarily at audiences outside New Zealand.

Who is convinced by TV3's claim about the primary audience outside NZ? It is a wildly optimistic estimate of a potential audience based on population only. And it is a dubious argument to be claiming a combined Pacific population of more than nine million - more than double New Zealand's population, when the critical figure is potential audience. Most of the 18 countries and territories listed have a limited interest in rugby union.
While it is true Papua New Guinea (6.2 million cited by TV3) has a far larger population than New Zealand, the TV audience is very small and the country is primarily a rugby league nation. Eighty percent of the people are rural villagers with limited access to TV and electricity. Various estimates put the potential TV audience for the national broadcaster EM TV (owned by Fiji TV's subsidiary Media Niugini) at between 500,000 and 600,000. The rugby broadcasts would be catering for a relatively small expatriate market and local audience.
There will be strong and enthusiastic audiences in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, of course, and Tahiti and New Caledonia (and perhaps Vanuatu) would have a keen interest in the France-All Greys quarterfinal at least. But it is hard to see much of a potential audience in some countries and territories such as Guam, the Marshall Islands and Northern Marianas.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Powes Parkop slams the Papua media 'taboo'

Good to see PNG's new National Capital District governor Powes Parkop having a crack at the local media for its appalling job in recent times at covering the plight of their 'bros across the border in Indonesian-controlled Papua. The issue of 10,000 or so displaced West Papuans and their requests remains a festering sore. And the PNG media haven't done enough to address the problem and ensure it is on the agenda for weak-kneed politicians. Ironical, because there are many influential Papuan journalists in the PNG media industry and in the past they have prodded local newspapers, radio and TV into keeping an eye on the Papuan problem. Powes always supported the Papuans in their struggle for self-determination right from his Melanesian Solidarity activist and human rights legal work days. Now we wish him luck in the to job at NCD. He took advantage of the launching of PNG's 'Let's do it' media expo 2007 to slam the media for accepting Papua as a "taboo" topic. He wasn't too full of platitudes about the coverage of the decade-long war on Bougainville, which ended in 1997, either. Parkop said he couldn't recall when journalists had tried to report the Papuan story on the other side of the border without Indonesian thought police. He said: The media seems to have swallowed the political line that West Papua is part of Indonesia and whatever is happening there is a matter for Indonesia ... It seems that as far as the media is concerned, West Papua is A TABOO . It's a domestic affair similar to how we treat domestic violence.
Cartoon: Sharpe's view of John Howard's closed door attitude to West Papua - it could easily apply to the PNG media attitude to Papua.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Global citizens and the al Jazeera experience

Nightly catching up on the al Jazeera English perspective on world events is so refreshing, especially after the mundane stuff being served up on Television NZ and TV3. So it was a cool experience for those of us who had the chance to share with four feisty Asia-Pacific woman journos this week, especially al-Jazeera's pair, Kuala Lumpur-based presenter Veronica Pedrosa and Trish Carter (actually now exAJ). Trish talked about the immense challenges about starting the Asia-Pacific bureau of the Qatar-based satellite channel from scratch. Veronica, daughter of a famous exiled mum who fell out with Imelda Marcos over a no-holds-barred book about the totalitarian era first lady, gave a superbly entertaining and insightful look behind the scenes at al Jazeera. There is a determined commitment by its dedicated staff to report the many under-reported stories ignored by other media. Veronica describes herself as a "global citizen - Filipina by heart, Euro by habit"! The quartet were rounded off by Sagarika Ghose from India and Charlotte Glennie, dumped by TVNZ and NZ's only Asian resident television correspondent, and now based in Beijing for the ABC in Oz. Thanks to Charles Mabbett and the Asia:NZ Foundation, many journos and a sprinkling of j-students from AUT University got the chance to be inspired by their experiences and insights. But what happened to the 40-odd journos who signed up for the seminar but were no-shows? No wonder NZ media is so depressingly parochial and smug. Pictured: Veronica Pedrosa and Russell Brown. Photo: Jomine Neethling (AUT Journalism - Pacific Media Centre)

Fear and exposure in Fiji

Bula! Our entertainment corner with a political edge. If you haven't done so already, check out Vitimediawatchdog's Fiji "home truths" indictment of the Speight/Qarase pseudo democratic regime years ... vinaka guys! I spotted a certain notorious "kiss" team image from USP back in May 2000. As Vitimedia explains about the YouTube clips: "Exposing the individuals and the ideas behind the ethnic-nationalism that has destroyed my country."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Solomons riot 'orchestrated plan' for regime change

"Certain politicians" planning regime change in the Solomon Islands were among those responsible for the April 2006 rioting which destroyed much of Honiara's Chinatown area and forced hundreds of Chinese to flee, according to the commission of inquiry.
The commission, chaired by former Papua New Guinea National Court judge Brian Brunton, released an interim report but did not name the individuals or political groups involved.
Radio NZ International reported the commission as saying a number of leading politicians, political groups and organisations were involved in executing a preconceived plan for a regime change following Snyder Rini’s election as prime minister.
The commission has also found that the Solomons government could be liable for damages of US$20 million for the loss of businesses destroyed during the riots. The report's executive summary says:
There is evidence that the 18th April 2006 civil unrest in Honiara was not spontaneous as was originally claimed but rather the event has the hallmark of having been orchestrated and planned in a broader sense of that word. There is now some evidence connecting the identity of a number of leading politicians, political groups and organisations who had in one way or another contributed to the execution of the planning for a regime change, should the previous government or elements of it return to power. The commission’s investigation is not at this stage sufficiently convinced it is in a position in which it is proper to name those individuals, political groups and organisations that were responsible for the planning.
In an earlier interim report in July, the inquiry found there had been failures by Australian police commanders of RAMSI leading up to the riots which also left dozens of Australians police injured.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hidden voices - a Filipina Muslim on the US 'war on terror'

Amirah Ali Lidasan is national vice-chairperson of the Suara Bangsamoro Party List Organisation, which aims to get representation in Congress for the Philippines' several million Muslims (known as Moros and heavily concentrated in the southernmost islands). I've had an email from PSN's Murray Horton about her visit to NZ next month to talk about "The US 'war on terror' and its impact on her people". As Murray explains:
Amirah is a young progressive Muslim woman, with a history of senior leadership in the student movement in Manila, and is a leader in groups such as the Moro Christian People's Alliance. She has an international profile. In March 2007 she was part of a Philippine human rights delegation which toured North America and Europe, drawing international attention to the human rights crisis at home.
The Philippine military has been waging a full blown conventional war in the southern Philippines since the 1970s (simultaneous to the better known and equally long war against the Communist guerrillas throughout the whole country). Right now that war is seeing some of its heaviest fighting in decades, with direct involvement from the US Special Forces who have been
stationed in the southern Philippines since 2002. It has had hugely negative consequences for the whole Muslim population in the South (including Amirah and her family) and it has now become part and parcel of Bush's global "War on Terror" against "Islamic terrorists". Indeed, he has proclaimed the Philippines to be "The Second Front" in that war.
Dates: October 23-November 1, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sison walks free after court order

Filipino political dissident Jose Ma. Sison is out of jail and the Malacañang is far from happy. Dutch authorities set Sison free after a court ordered his release because the case accusing him of involvement in political murders of former colleagues in the Philippines had apparently collapsed. He is another political leader turned into a scapegoat by the US-led "war on terror". But, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People's Army (NPA), isn't off the hook yet.
The District Court of The Hague reportedly hasn't precluded him from being prosecuted on murder charges. Spokesperson Wim de Bruin of the national prosecutor's office told the Inquirer: "The charges are not being dropped. The investigation will continue." The Malacañang is still hoping that the case against the communist leader will proceed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

NZ snubs final UN indigenous rights declaration

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been adopted at the UN General Assembly by a vote of 143 in favour, 4 against, and 11 abstentions. According to Peace Movement Aotearoa, the Aotearoa/NZ government has "maintained its contradictory and reprehensible position on the Declaration, speaking against it just prior to the vote". NZ was one of the four states which voted against the adoption of the Declaration - Australia, Canada and the US were the others. PMA says: "We will be publishing an update next week on the developments around the Declaration over the past month, including the government's ongoing attempts to derail it and their proposal to substantially alter the text so that it would have given indigenous peoples lesser rights than those of others."
UN News
United Nations adopts Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
13 September 2007 – The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.
The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.
It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

UN DPI
ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand), speaking in explanation of vote, noted that New Zealand was one of the few countries that from the start had supported the elaboration of a declaration that promoted and protected the rights of indigenous peoples. In New Zealand, indigenous rights were of profound importance, and were integral to its identity as a nation State and as a people. New Zealand was unique: a treaty concluded at Waitangi between the Crown and New Zealand’s indigenous peoples in 1840 was a founding document of the country. Today, New Zealand had one of the largest and most dynamic indigenous minorities in the world, and the Treaty of Waitangi had acquired great significance in the country’s constitutional
arrangements, law and Government activity.
The place of Maori in society, their grievances and disparities affecting them were central and enduring features of domestic debate and Government action, she said. New Zealand also had an unparalleled system for redress, accepted by both indigenous and non-indigenous citizens alike. Nearly 40 per cent of the New Zealand fishing quota was owned by Maori, as a
result. Claims to over half of New Zealand’s land area had been settled. For that reason, New Zealand fully supported the principles and aspirations of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The country had been implementing most of the standards in the Declaration for many years. She shared the view that the Declaration was long overdue, and the concern that indigenous peoples in many parts of the world continued to be deprived of basic human rights.
New Zealand was proud of its role in improving the text over the past three years, turning the draft into one that States would be able to uphold and promote, she said. It was, therefore, a matter of deep regret that it was unable to support the text before the Assembly today. Unfortunately, New Zealand had difficulties with a number of provisions of the text. In particular, four provisions in the Declaration were fundamentally incompatible with New Zealand’s constitutional and legal arrangements, the Treaty of Waitangi, and the principle of governing for the good of all its citizens, namely article 26 on lands and resources, article 28 onredress, articles 19 and 32 on a right of veto over the State.
The provision on lands and resources could not be implemented in New Zealand, she said. Article 26 stated that indigenous peoples had a right to own, use, develop or control lands and territories that they had traditionally owned, occupied or used. For New Zealand, the entire country was potentially caught within the scope of the article, which appeared to requirerecognition of rights to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens, both indigenous andnon-indigenous, and did not take into account the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.

Motigate backfires on Somare

One of Papua New Guinea's National Court judges has described the Julian Moti cover-up saga as a local version of the United States’ Watergate scandal. Attempts to gag the media have backfired. And now PNG's main daily newspaper, Murdoch-owned Post-Courier, has today splashed a front page lead calling for the Chief's resignation. Speaking before quashing Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and three others’ application to nullify the entire proceedings of the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) Moti Inquiry, Justice Bernard Sakora said on Wednesday their attempts to suppress the inquiry’s proceedings and final report conjured up images of the Watergate scandal. He said the application was only aimed at protecting egos and not in the public interest:

The taking of the defence portfolio by the Prime Minister and the suppression of the report, all conjure up images reminiscent of the Watergate Affair in the United States – those of us who were alive in the 1970's (are familiar with this). The Watergate Affair that led to the resignation of a president of the United States few steps ahead of impeachment. One can’t help but be reminded (that) the whole (Moti) saga is so reminiscent, for those of us who were around in the 1970s.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

And now - a public apology to Ahmed Zaoui?

Finally, some sense in Godzone amidst the "war on terror" madness. After persecuting Ahmed Zaoui and making a mockery of New Zealand's supposed commitment to human rights, the so-called "risk security certificate" against him has been officially withdrawn. Amnesty International (and others) has welcomed the decision announced by the Director of Security to withdraw the certificate against the Algerian refugee, who has long been a cause celebre for many of us. He has even been an occasional, and charming, guest lecturer for student journos at AUT's j school. And what a breath of fresh air in these paranoid times. This decision makes it clear that a substantial threat to New Zealand's security must exist before the human right to asylum from persecution is ignored.
The decision comes almost five years after Ahmed Zaoui arrived in New Zealand and four years after the Refugee Status Appeals Authority concluded that he should be granted asylum following his experiences in Algeria and in exile. Says Amnesty International's executive director in NZ:
The Ahmed Zaoui case has highlighted the fragility of our commitment as a country to basic human rights. Too many New Zealanders, including members of Parliament who should be more aware than most of the importance of human rights, were content to ignore the August 2003 decision of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority and condemn Mr Zaoui without access to the facts.
Too many were prepared to make cheap jibes about how a survivor of torture who had been in enforced exile for a decade and kept for 10 months in solitary confinement in a New Zealand prison was "abusing New Zealand hospitality", "costing the taxpayers too much", and was "free to jump on a plane at any time". Mr Zaoui's counsel has had to fight summary justice all the way.
An apology is now due to Ahmed Zaoui for New Zealand's poor handling of his case. And his family should be able to join him at the earliest opportunity, as called for by UNHCR. As Selwyn Manning said on KiwiFM, the five-year struggle for justice for Ahmed Zaoui as a refugee revealed the ugly side of NZ.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sidestepping the cycle of vengeance in Fiji?

University of the South Pacific's Steve Ratuva, one of the most perceptive and robust analysts of post-coup Fiji - streets ahead than most of the journos in the region, has a prescription for a way forward out of the mess. The following is an extract from his state of play article in the Fiji Times:
Firstly, we have to shift our minds away from the narrow, exclusivist, partisan and self-serving political agenda and begin to see the interest of the nation as paramount. That is the bottom line.
We all have our party, religious, organisational, vanua and personal loyalties and interests, however, at this point in time, these should be subservient to the common national good. Despite official optimism, our economy is not doing well, investor confidence is down, socio-political relations are at their lowest and national moral is in tatters.
Yet despite all these we are still trying to win political and moral points over our adversaries as if that will solve our collective problems when the opposite is in fact happening.
Secondly, on a more practical note, we need to identify the good suggestions from both sides and synthesise them into a common proposal for national reconciliation. Both the proposed People's Charter and Ratu Inoke's proposal contain points worth considering and discussing.
Thirdly, we urgently need to put in place a reconciliation process as well as a framework for political stability for the future before the election. To do that after the election, although constitutionally legitimate, would be politically too late. Since the hurt and pain are very deeply embedded, the election could become an arena for expressions of anger, vindictivenessand vengeance and these have the potential to rear their ugly heads again after the election.
Historically, political instabilities in Fiji have only happened after elections. The pre-election differences, antagonism and volatility will haunt us once again after the next election if we are not careful. That's why it is important to put in place a reconciliation and post-election governance framework we all agree on well before the election.
- Fiji Times photo with Ratuva article

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Tongan pro-democracy MPs still face sedition charges

First the good news: Charges against Tonga's five People's Representatives accused over last November's rioting in Nukualofa, Tonga, have been cut back. The bad news? The outspoken MPs are still the Tongan establishment's main scapegoats for the rioting. They're now still facing one charge of sedition each. Chief Justice Anthony Ford has announced the drop of some charges in the Supreme Court.
According to Matangi Tonga, pro-democracy advocates 'Akilisi Pohiva, 'Isileli Pulu, Clive Edwards, 'Uliti Uata and Lepolo Taunisila, first appeared in the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court on July 18 and were charged with one count of sedition and six counts of abetment to cause disruption resulting in the destruction of six different premises, including the Molisi Tonga Supermarket, Pacific Royale Hotel, Tungi Arcade, Shoreline Building, Fung Shing Supermarket and the Leiola Duty Free Shop in the November 16 riot.
Chief Justice Ford told the court that it had received notice two days ago that Crown Law intended to withdraw the previous indictments and file new indictments of sedition only against each accused. All five accused were all present in court, pleading not guilty. Pictured: Scoop photo of 'Akilisi Pohiva

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