A former journalist and a former newspaper publisher have defended the Fiji Times, from the claims of the unnamed staffer who detailed the shortcomings of the daily paper in the Cafe Pacific blog.
Russell Hunter, a fomer publisher and chief executive of the Fiji Sun, asks who the former worker is, saying the person who gave Cafe Pacific the information could not have worked at the Fiji Times when he was there:
"I wonder who Cafe Pacific might be? He or she wasn't at the Fiji Times between 1997 and 2003 when there was a comprehensive in-house training programme for reporters, subs and middle managers. I should know I ran it. There was also and presumably still is a salary scale. And no the editor wasn't and isn't a cousin of Qarase, that anonymous commentator was thinking of the Daily Post."
Former journalist Charlie Charteris has aslo challenged the comments of the unnamed staffer, saying: "The more I read this the angrier I get angry."
Charteris, who was a TV presenter in Fiji and a freelance journalist in Hong Kong before becoming a rugby official, says when the article was first posted by Cafe Pacific the unnamed Old Hand who makes these fairly sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations, let slip on some basic facts.
"The last decent editor was referred to as Vijay Kumar - not Vijendra Kumar. I pointed this out to Cafe Pacific in a post and said this was such a basic error of fact it called into question everything else they had to say (and, because the author enjoys the benefit of anonymously firing off at the Fiji Times, about the only thing in the article that is capable of being fact-checked).
"To me, calling Mr Kumar, Vijay is as egregiously wrong as referring to Sir Larry Usher or Steve Ritova. Cafe Pacific have now corrected the Old Hand's copy but, crucially in terms of the piece's credibility, without pointing out the original mistake. How can they do this when the piece is presented as a direct quote from the Old Hand?"
Charteris says while he is no longer a journalist he has worked in newsrooms in many parts of the world, Europe, Asia and the Pacific.
"And I have never come across a Happy Newsroom, both internally and in its relationship with management. So it stands to reason someone will be able to find something bad to say about any organisation. And of course the Fiji Times has had its crap moments, its crap managers, editors, subs, and reporters (but nowhere near in the same proportion as the other daily print media).
"But to complain about the Fiji Times being too 'mean' to send reporters to the HK Sevens ... really. What an irrelevant criticism. In case the Old Hand hadn't realised, the Fiji Times looks more and more like the last best chance the country has. Too mean to send reporters to HK? That's the best you can say against the Fiji Times?"
The old hand told Cafe Pacific the paper had not invested much in training and staff development and there was no such thing as a transparent salary structure at the Fiji Times. He or she said pay increases were made at the editor’s/publisher’s whim and management wilfully used the tactic to keep salaries low since it is not easy to go up to the editor to ask for an increase.
He or she said the Fiji Times was never keen to retain experienced staff. Instead, it let them go so younger inexperienced people could be hired at a cheaper rate. "The Fiji Times thought it was clever but this penny-pinching has caught up with it and "bitten it in the backside to name some of the criticism."