The secretariat of the news organisation, PINA, has ackowledged the discontent of its members for failing to speak out against the proposed media decree of the illegal government of Fiji.
Stevens (pictured above) goes on to say the secretariat will inform everyone of developments, adding: "I believe all board members are standing together and are willing to take PINA forward."
He also asks PINA members to appreciate the difficulties the organisation is operating under. He says: "Most of the members are new to this role as directors of a regional institution and given the fact that the institution has been going down when we came in. Therefore, I urge all island media practitioners and leaders to stand by this board and be ready to offer a hand where you can please."
Stevens pleads for support instead of criticism, saying: "I would prefer to see some of our old hands coming forward to assist than sitting back and watch from the side while a handful of negative minded people continue to tear down an institution that was founded by our media leaders before us for (I believe) the purpose of developing a Pacific Media Standard that is understood and accepted by the Pacific societies."
The PINA chair was pressured into responding after wide debate about the group's failure to condemn, let alone lead, the discussion and criticism of the junta's plan to introduce the Media Industry Development Decree 2010.
It was noticeable that while there has been widespread condemnation by journalists, media organisations and NGO's worldwide as well as other groups, PINA preferred a wait and see approach with its Suva-based manager, Matai Akauola, saying it was too early to come out strongly against the decree.
Gob smacked members, including the vice-president, John Woods, who has gone public with his concerns about the 'dysfunctional' PINA, say it's inappropriate for the organisation to remain in Suva in the current climate.
Dr Mark Hayes, Pacific analyst at University of Queensland, joined the debate this week saying, ordinarily Suva would be a terrific place for PINA and PacNews to be based but not in this current evironment where the military rule has posted censors in every newsroom and a media decree on the way.
He told Radio Australia major aid donors should look very closely at what PINA is doing. He said: "There's no suggestion of any kind of corruption or money going to the wrong places, into peoples pockets or anything like that. It's more a concern about bang for the bucks so to speak; it's more about effectiveness, of transparency, of, uh, forward planning, of notifications of upcoming workshops and scholarships oppporutnities and training opportunities.
"I think anyone who knows PINA .... are very concerned that it isn’t achieving its potential on behalf of its members and Pacific regional media workers .... and we really do wish them the very best of success if they can get their act together."
A journalist from Fiji, Sophie Foster, was more direct. Reminding PINA that its main objectives were: 1) promoting and defend freedom of expression and information, 2) promoting and developing professional standards through training and education and 3) developing professional fellowship and co-operation, she suggested that "if the PINA executives want to start with a clean slate, they take their cue from these objectives and design their work motivation around that."
Saying the time has come, she asked: "Will the PINA executives step up to these objectives? It's not really a choice that's on offer. Just do the job."