Monday, May 30, 2011

[pima.nius] FIJI: 'Offline' Fiji Times makes digital upgrade to comply with media decree

11:55 AM |

Title – 7479 FIJI: 'Offline' Fiji Times makes digital upgrade to comply with media decree
Date – 29 May 2011
Byline – Kalasi Mele
Origin – Pacific Media Watch
Source – Wansolwara, 29/5/11
Copyright – W/USP
Status – Unabridged
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'OFFLINE' FIJI TIMES MAKES DIGITAL UPGRADE TO COMPLY WITH MEDIA DECREE

By Kalasi Mele of Wansolwara

SUVA (Wansolwara/Pacific Media Watch): Fiji's daily news portal, Fiji Times Online, will remain inactive until its computer system is reprogrammed to ensure bylines are automatically attached to all stories when uploaded.
This was confirmed by Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, who was hopeful the website would be back online before the end of the month.

Speaking to Wansolwara, the journalism training newspaper at the University of the South Pacific, Wesley said the upgrade was needed to ensure the newspaper adhered to the Fiji Media Industry Decree.

The decree sets out that stories of more than 50 words must have a byline, and all pictures must have a caption and a picture credit.

Wesley said the website, which was suspended on April 18, has an average readership of 750,000 a month. Many of its readers in Fiji and abroad expressed frustration over the absence of the website, he said.   

The scheduled upgrade is also expected to ensure greater security.

"No one will be able to change stuff, no one will be able to change captions because it will all be linked to a database and there is no room for errors," said Wesley.

System upgrade
"With the Media Decree, every story must have a byline and every photo must have a caption and a picture byline; stories that will have negative impact on the security of the country should not be run," he said.

"Basically everything that the Media Decree encompasses; whatever is in the Media Decree, our web system will be able to pick and keep them within the confinements of the Media Decree."

He said reprogramming had been delayed because the appropriate technicians could not be sourced locally. Help had been sought from Sydney, Australia, instead.

Wesley said speculation linking the inactive website to the recent fate of its chairman Mahendra Patel was baseless.

"I would like to say that there is no basis to that assumption or claim," he said.

He was responding to queries on whether the website going offline was a means of "damage control" over a controversial court case.

Owner jailed
Patel, managing director of one of Fiji's largest conglomerates, was jailed  for 12 months after being convicted on one count of abuse of office for a decision he made as chairman of Post Fiji.

 "I thought we were very fair; we ran stories that deserved to be run," said Wesley of the Fiji Times' coverage.

He said the newspaper's independence was evident as it even published the news of Patel's incarceration on its front page.

* Comment on this item pmediawa@aut.ac.nz 

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