THERE has been a call for journalists to rise to the challenge and give ordinary people information they need.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day conference on media and democracy at the University of the South Pacific yesterday, Ministry of Information permanent secretary, Sharon Smith-Johns urged journalists to take advantage of the lifting of censorship.
"You will hear a lot about self censorship, the notion that journalists in Fiji are too afraid to report fully and without fear or favour," she said.
"Such fears are understandable in the transition from censorship to freedom.
"But I urge journalists not to use this as an excuse not to do their jobs."
Ms Smith-Johns said government wanted a vigorous media but with certain conditions that were a prerequisite in most countries.
"Not to fuel racial division, not to threaten peace and order, not to damage our economy and people's jobs," she said.
In the interests of national stability, Ms Smith-Johns said Fiji had felt obliged to impose a period of censorship on the local media, which had since been lifted.
"I know some of you have a jaundiced view about the Fiji government's attitude to media freedom," she said in her statement.
"As a country, we are a work in progress. But huge progress has been in achieving genuine democracy.
"We are committed to the vision of a united, prosperous Fiji in which every citizen has a viable and equal stake," she said.
Ms Smith-Johns said there was a clear division of opinion among journalists and educators about what form of journalism was appropriate for developing countries.
She said she did not think there was any argument and that the needs of media consumers must come first.
"In developing countries, we all have a responsibility to educate and enlighten, to create stability for investment and the jobs our people so badly need," she said.
"This does not come from fuelling division. There is a special responsibility on all of us in a small island developing State like Fiji."