Wednesday, October 6, 2010

[pima.nius] Deputy editor takes ‘sudden leave’ in Fiji Times upheaval

12:42 PM |

Deputy editor takes 'sudden leave' in Fiji Times upheaval


Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Losalini Rasoqosoqo in Suva

A second top Fiji Times editor is no longer in the newsroom amid what appears to be turmoil at the top, colleagues said yesterday.

Deputy editor Sophie Foster has suddenly taken leave, they said.

This came after Sunday Times editor Fred Wesley was appointed acting editor-in-chief following the abrupt departure of Netani Rika.

Foster had previously taken charge when Rika was absent. Chief subeditor Ilaitia Turagabeci was the other member of Rika's top editorial management team.

There was speculation in the Fiji Times newsroom that Foster was not happy at being bypassed and Wesley appointed.

Foster herself declined to comment and said this has to come from the paper's Australian expatriate publisher, Dallas Swinstead.

A number Foster gave to ring Swinstead on was not answered. Fiji Times staff said they could not give Swinstead's mobile phone number.

Fellow journalists, speaking on condition they were not named, said they believe Rika was forced to go following a meeting between Motibhai executives and Swinstead.

The changes at the top come after Mahendra Patel's Motibhai Group took over the newspaper. Rika is said to have strongly disagreed with the pro-government changes being implemented by the Motibhai Group.

Motibhai Group chairman Patel has previously said any comment on the Fiji Times should come from Swinstead.

Meanwhile, Wesley told FBC News he is honoured to take up the position.

Wesley paid tribute to Rika, saying he learnt a lot from his leadership, FBC News reported.

Wesley told FBC News he would do his best to improve the newspaper and take it to another level if he could.

Motibhai Group took control of the Fiji Times following the introduction of the Media Industry Development Decree. This restricts foreign ownership of Fiji news organisations to 10 percent.

Swinstead is a on six-month visa as publisher. He and Patel first met when Swinstead was previously publisher of the Fiji Times under Australian ownership and Patel was a Fiji Times local director.

Losalini Rasoqosoqo is a reporter on the Fiji Sun.

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