Media Industry Development Decree – Media Code of Ethics and Practice – Schedule 1
Section 8: Victims in sexual cases
- a) Media organizations must not identify victims of sexual assaults or publish or broadcast material likely to contribute to their identification even when free by law to do so.
b) Media organizations shall not identify children either as victims or witnesses in cases alleging sexual offences.
c) Reports of cases alleging sexual offences against a child may identify an adult concerned, provided they are not related, but must not identify the child, and must not include facts which imply a close relationship between an accused adult and a child victim.
Section 15: Grief and bereavement
Media organizations shall respect personal grief, taking care to make any necessary approaches and inquiries, with sensitivity and discretion.
Section 20: Taste and decency
Media organizations shall recognize socially accepted general standards of decency and taste in language and behavior occur (including humor, satire and drama) and, for broadcasters, the timing of transmission and likely audience of the programme.
Section 25: Destressing material
a) Editors, producers and broadcasters of news, current affairs and documentary programmes and articles shall take particular care on deciding whether the inclusion of graphic detail and intensity of violent or distressing material is warranted by its relevance and add to public understanding of the subject.
These are the clauses Fiji Sun was blatantly oblivious to when it decided to reveal details of a child rape incident. As shown, the name and any other details that could identify the victim always have to be protected. The publication also had to audacity to interview the grieving mother. Anyone who has lost anyone they loved would be able to tell the type of pain and sadness they are going through. To disturb that grieving period is just disrespectful!
As though that wasn’t enough, Fiji Sun used this to grab people’s attention.
Is this anyway one should be talking about a little girl who lost her life in such a cruel way? How can the Editor of Fiji Sun justify this? Being a woman, one would expect her to be more sensitive.
The Fiji Sun editors’ response to all criticism has been that they are putting the spotlight on a really important issue. The Editor has also said that such headlines add a shock value to the story. Its other words, it was to sensationalize. The article below has been removed from their website; however, a picture has been circulated online.
To justify their stance, the publication has even gone back to interview the victims’ family and get their opinion on the manner in which they handled the story. The article is very clearly saying that their sales have increased since it started publishing the story in the manner that they did. They had the audacity to go back to a grieving family and possibly ask questions such as “How has the public’s response been?”
One of the first things a journalism student is taught in a Media Ethics class is not to sensationalize anything; to know the rules and limitations when reporting on murder, rape or suicide and never under any circumstances a publication should reveal the identity or any other material that could identify a rape victim.
Fiji Sun has also accused everyone of being non-reactive. Yes, rape is an important issue. Because of this very reason, one should handle it with the utmost level of sensitivity. She is right to say that we as the citizens of this country need to be talking about rape. However, this should not mean that any publication or anyone for that matter, have the right to disrespect the life of a young girl.
Such crimes has left everyone deeply shocked and infuriated. We all would like the judiciary to increase punishment, to teach our children to respect each other and learn about consent and also to be wary of any suspicious of behavior around us.
A group is petitioning to the Media Industry Development Authority “to apply the code of ethics in the media decree and if Fiji Sun is found guilty of breach by the Media Tribunal, that fines be considered to be applied to Fiji Sun and its owners, CJ Patel.”
I urge the Fiji Sun to go back and think about all editorial decision they made regarding the rape of the young girl. I plead their conscience to find the error of their ways and simply apologize to the people of the country and especially the family.