The Fiji military has put a censor in every local newsroom, according to Sean Dorney.
Dorney who was expelled from Fiji last week, was speaking to QUT journalism students and staff.
Brandishing a copy of the military order, Dorney said that Fiji media were being forced “to buckle under”. The military had the power to close any Fiji news organisation which did not do what they were told.
He cited the Fiji Times which tried publishing blank spaces where stories had been censored. They were told,”Do that again and your are shut down forever”. The Fiji Post tried humour. They reported on what they had for breakfast as a front page story. “It was breakfast as usual for staff of this newspaper.’I had left over roti last night a senior reporter… told his colleagues!” They were told any more of that funny business and they would also be shut down.
Journalists were instructed to refrain from publishing any news item which was negative in nature, Dorney said. This was called “the journalism of hope”.
Sean Dorney won a Walkley Award in 1998 for his coverage of the Aitape Tsunami disaster and in the same year the Pacific Islands News Association honoured him with PINA’s Pacific Media Freedom Award. In 1999, the Queensland Branch of the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance (MEAA) honoured Sean with its “Most Outstanding Contribution of Journalism Award”. The PNG Government awarded Sean an MBE 1991 and he received an AM in 2000 in recognition for his service to Australia as a foreign correspondent.
Dorney’s expulsion prompted more than forty journalists and educators to sign off on a public statement condemning ” attempts to control our colleagues by threats, intimidation and censorship.
QUTNEWS Video report
Dorney Speech 1
Dorney Speech 2