Pacific Scoop

Simpson warns power of media can ‘make or break’ a nation

Rachna Nath (from left), Stan Simpson and Kelera Serelini during the media seminar. Photo: Dawn Gibson/USP

Rachna Nath (from left), Stan Simpson and Kelera Serelini during the Fiji media seminar at USP. Photo: Dawn Gibson/USP

By Dawn Gibson in Suva

Television host and Mai Laif editor Stanley Simpson has warned media can “make or break” a country in a journalism seminar at the University of the South Pacific.

Award-winning Simpson, who was founding editor of USP’s Wansolwara newspaper, said a paper’s reputation was very important as the public relied on it for information.

“Media stunts can really ruin a newspaper’s credibility,” said Simpson, a USP journalism graduate who now hosts Simpson at Seven on Mai TV as well as editing the magazine.

Simpson and other 2009 Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) award winners in Vanuatu were invited to address USP journalism students and the university community at the Laucala campus in Suva.

Fiji Television reporter Rachna Nath, a current USP journalism student, spoke on the importance of media ethics while her fellow student, Kelera Serelini, a former Fiji Sun reporter, spoke on the role of mentors for young journalists.

Serelini stepped in for the Fiji Times editor-in-chief Netani Rika and freelance journalist Samisoni Pareti. Both the PINA award winners withdrew from the event.

Fiji was a major topic at the PINA conference in July and it has consistently been criticised by media freedom organisations because of censorship imposed by the interim government at Easter.

Simpson said that it was important to understand how vital the media was in any country.

In Fiji, the media played a key role in keeping people informed.

“The media also plays a major role in opposing (a government) or pushing for debates –  for example, land debates and about taxation,” Simpson said.

‘Thick skin’
Fiji media’s main weakness was the lack of good story coverage and unbalanced stories, he said.

The Fiji media had nevertheless grown a “thick skin” over the years and bounced back from bad times brought on by four coups in the past 20 years.

Simpson said journalists need to be better informed and rather than be passive and lazy, they needed to follow ethics and strive for improvement.

“Always do justice to your stories. Follow you head, heart, and be honest,” he said.

Nath said it was important to acknowledge the versatility of the Fiji media and its contribution to society.

She  said it was difficult to maintain integrity in the media business as “not everyone will like what you write, and unfortunately, we are unintentionally biased”.

“The media is so powerful and influential, it is probably safer to stick to basics in order to avoid errors,” Nath said.

Serelini highlighted the vital role mentors played in guiding new journalists. Having spent three years at the Fiji Sun, Serelini said mentors were definitely what every beginner journalist needed.

The seminar was organised by final year students Repeka Nasiko and Tagi Kirikiti as part of their course project.

The two said the speakers were chosen for their exemplary work and to motivate and inspire student journalists at USP.

Dawn Gibson is a first-year journalism student at the University of the South Pacific.


  1. Crimestoppers West Member, 25. October 2009, 7:57

    Three cheers for Stan Simpson! He is absolutely correct.
    How about this for an example? Why would no press/radio/television reporter in Fiji have seen or followed through that those persons charged with amurder in Nadi on 16 September 2006 are still free – not even bailed – and their case has yet to come to court for retrial? Yet, there is no doubt whatsoever that the media has been informed about this case – regularly -by Crimestoppers West since September 2006.

    If this is not ‘bringing a country down’ then what is? Investigative journalists may make or break a nation: too true.

  2. Walker Texas Ranger, 26. October 2009, 21:09

    Further to what has been said by ‘Crimestoppers West Member’, it is noticeable today that the Fiji Times newspaper has mounted a remarkable piece of investigative journalism concerning the ins and outs of the Fiji Rugby Union. Now this is what is required and has been in Fiji all along: probing and in-depth investigations into situations and institutions which have defied transparent and accountable governance over very many years. Murders on the street of any town or city in Fiji should raise eyebrows. If the persons allegedly responsible are still ‘out and about’ – someone must ask why. If three years have elapsed since the crime was investigated and charges laid by the Fiji Police, then we must ask why the DPP failed to act and bring those originally charged back into court. If the media have also failed to report on this, then eyebrows raised are insufficient. What the hell is going on?