New Zealand journalists have had their moments of controversy in terms of the news they report, its relevance and the quality of the journalistic endeavours behind the stories. I have many issues with how journalists work in their profession. I also have issues with the profession at large and where it appears to be headed.
But despite all of that, I do have to sympathize with the plight of New Zealand journalists, such as but not limited to One News Pacific reporter Barbara Dreaver. Since she joined One News Barbara Dreaver has been a significant voice for the Pacific island nations – Kiribati (where she is from), Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, among others. She has broken stories that no other journalist has done including chemical weapons that had been disposed of on the road side in the Cook Islands, various scams targeting Pacific Island communities, military coups in Fiji among other stories. She has an extensive network of contacts through out the south Pacific area and is well respected amongst ethnic communities from these island nations.
Unfortunately, Barbara Dreaver is on a Fiji military regime black list for her extensive coverage of the coups lead by the military and the resultant regime of Commodore Frank (Voreqe)Bainimarama, whose dislike for New Zealand journalists is well known. This was highlighted a few days ago by the fact that a short stopover on the way to Kiribati required special permission from the Government of Fiji. This country needs New Zealand help more than normal as it continues to struggle with the aftermath of Cyclone Winston. It needs the outside world to know that it is still cleaning up and restoring amenities damaged in the cyclone, which is where New Zealand reporters and their work becomes very useful.
It is not just in Fiji that this is the case. New Zealand journalists who work on Pacific affairs are not only doing the communities that they are reporting from a significant favour. They are also doing New Zealand and New Zealanders at large a favour by giving them news about a part of the world that few understand. In the absence of media in those countries that can report without fear of prosecution or persecution of their journalists, the role of outside journalists becomes bigger.
As much for the sake of these communities, these island nations, who have much more limited resources and freedom than we here in New Zealand do, those black lists need to be scrapped. The fourth estate exists for very pertinent reasons and whether Governments like it or not, holding them to account with open transparent reporting, is for the greater good.