Thursday, January 31, 2013

Could I even stoop that low?

As a long-time journalist and now a scholar, I am used to basing my articles on solid quotes. Scholars like to quote from published sources and quote verbatim. As a blogger and online journalist, it is nice to be able to provide a link to the source of the quote so that readers can read the whole thing and decide if it backs up what I am saying or whether I am instead misconstruing it or quoting something out of context. But I am not sure I could bring myself to descend as low as some Pacific journalists and, sad to say, media scholars have recently. We have already established that the journalism standards of Graham Davis are very low. Davis seems content to quote a single anonymous source in a full-page smear job, as he did with Yash Ghai. One of Grubby's favorite tactics is to solicit defamation by email and then publish it anonymously. We shouldn't be surprised that a gutter journalist like Davis stoops this low. What is surprising is that one of the region's supposedly foremost (maybe fivemost) media scholars apparently subscribes to the same low standards. I refer, of course, to David Robie's attack on me yesterday. This assault was unprovoked by me and was prompted, from what I can tell, by my blog entries of recent weeks shining some light on the Fiji regime's propaganda efforts. Why the esteemed Professor Robie would object to that, I am not quite sure, but apparently he does not approve. He seems to suspect an ulterior motive on my part and solicited one or more of his correspondents to get to the bottom of it. One of the complaints he came up with was that apparently I like to think that I know what I'm talking about. Quoth one correspondent: "Colleagues said he came to Fiji with a 'superior attitude' and [was someone] who believed he 'knew better than the locals'." Well, I am sorry about that superior attitude of mine. Bad habit. I'll try working on that. It has been mentioned before. Here's something else that might seem like a valid criticism.
“He claims to be standing for media freedom and democracy,” said one Fiji media insider in an email to CafĂ© Pacific. “Looks like he doesn’t understand terms. Or is he a hypocrite pretending to fight for media freedom while using the MDA [Media Development Authority] when it suits him?”
The reference here is to my complaint to the Media Authority over the execrable treatment I was subjected to by Legend FM last September. This was at the height of the smear campaign against me. I had dared to state publicly what several others were saying, which is that the Fiji media were obviously practising self-censorship due to uncertainty over how the Media Decree will be applied. It is true that there are things about the Media Decree that I don't like, such as the six-figure fines and two-year prison sentences it provides for journalists. But there are also some things I like about it, including the limits it puts on foreign ownership and cross-ownership of Fiji media. I think that its Code of Conduct for journalists could be a positive feature if it encourages media responsibility, which of course is the necessary flip side of media freedom. And all I'm asking for is a correction and an apology. But the biggest complaint Robie and his chorus seem to have is that I am somehow making all this fuss, such as in my recent interview with Radio Australia, to bolster my claim that I was run out of Fiji by the regime and its propaganda machine.
“Marc sits in Canada rewriting the history of all of this for his own benefit,” one regional media critic notes. “He is creating both the vehicle (RA and Bruce Hill) and the narrative (blame Qorvis/Davis) to build his case that he was drummed out of Fiji for being a regime opponent. He will quote all of this to add lustre and a veneer of believability to whatever account he eventually writes.”
Well, I can only assure you that the reason I left Fiji was indeed the escalating number of complaints by the regime over this blog, which put both my work permit and my safety in jeopardy, according to credible information that reached my ears. There is a concerted attempt to suggest otherwise on the part of people like Professor Robie and Grubby Davis (I just hope they don't sic WhaleOil on me), but this fiction has to be wearing thin by now given the obvious nature of the smear campaign that has been conducted against me by them and others. They somehow seem to think that they can counter my arguments by attacking me personally. Who knows, maybe it'll work. But I got to thinking today that maybe I should follow their lead and publish on this blog some of the nasty things that people tell me about them. Could I stoop that low? It would be difficult for someone who has always tried to adhere to high ethical standards in journalism for 40 years now. I could probably do it, but I'm not sure how good I'd feel about it. Maybe I should just try it once and see how it goes. After all, they're doing it to me. What's sauce for the goose, etc. OK, here goes. I have been sent a number of sympathetic emails since the smear campaign began last April. They come from those who have been subjected to the same kind of treatment by the same scoundrels. Let's leave Grubby Davis aside for a moment, because that would be kinda like piling on. Here is what one regional journalst had to say about David Robie.
When he was in PNG at the Uni he used the newspaper there, Wan Solwara, as a huge promotional tool for himself. Each issue had up to five photos of Robie with students doing this or that. He had his own column and students were encouraged to write about him. One student assignment he ran in the student newspaper that really cracked me up was as essay on how there had been two great Western journalists - Pilger and Burchett. . . . Joining this hugely admirable select group of great journalists, according to Robie's student in this essay in the student newspaper, was none other than David Robie for his marvellous work in the Pacific.
Hmmm. I don't know. I don't feel so good. I feel . . . dirty. I need to have a shower.

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