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Coups, media and democracy in Fiji

Singh, Shailendra B. and Prasad, Biman C. (2008) Coups, media and democracy in Fiji. Fijian Studies: A Journal of Contemporary Fiji, 6 (1 & 2). pp. 1-8. ISSN 1728-7456

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    Abstract

    This special edition of Fijian Studies looks at the mainstream news media in Fiji. The journal attempts to cover the last 20 years, a turbulent period in Fiji’s history scarred by four coups in May and September of 1987, May 2000 and December 2006. The first coup commenced what turned out to be a cumulative decline and stunted progress, causing political and social chaos, heightening racial tensions, crippling the economy, and causing an inexorable decline in living standards. The media too has been scarred by the coups. Fiji’s journalists had little experience covering upheavals of such magnitude, and for them it has been a steep learning curve. Given the complexities of their society and the context in which they were operating, mistakes were inevitable. So while the coups gave journalists lots of copy to work with, they also gave rise to an unprecedented level of public and academic interest in the inner workings of the media. The Fiji media, consequently, found itself under the spotlight like never before. Its coverage of the coups and its stance on various issues were scrutinised, with the reporting being both lauded and condemned. Once the questions started, they kept coming. Does the media understand its role, and is it fulfilling this? Who owns and controls the media? Who gave the media its watchdog mandate? Who is watching the watchdog? Is the media really a force for good, or is it the handmaiden of a few powerful, vested interests? Such questions apply to, and are being asked of, the media in other countries also. In the United States, the media stood accused of beating the war drums on behalf of the then President, George Bush, resulting in the destructible foray into Iraq. Fiji’s media has been blamed for fermenting coups by the manner in which it reported political and racial issues. Insidious motives and naivety on the part of journalists have both been put forward as reasons for these alleged transgressions.

    Item Type: Journal Article
    Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
    Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > School of Language, Arts and Media > Confucius Institute
    Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) > School of Economics
    Depositing User: Ms Neha Harakh
    Date Deposited: 25 May 2008 11:44
    Last Modified: 18 Jul 2012 17:43
    URI: http://repository.usp.ac.fj/id/eprint/1113
    UNSPECIFIED

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