On Tuesday you published MMR’s statement that confirmed Rongo never applied for the position. On Monday May 3, you published another letter from Rongo and statement from MMR both further confirming Rongo didn’t apply for the ecologist position. But you also still published a smoke signal that questioned why Rongo wasn’t appointed. The smoke signal was clearly a smear on my husband. You shouldn’t have published it because the fact was already established that Rongo never applied for the job, it contained falsehoods and it was defamatory.
Rongo’s initial letter itself was defamatory and contained a lie and shouldn’t have been published without fact-checking it first.
I have observed over the years the level of irresponsible and unethical journalism coming out of your paper. For example you published a photo of innocent Asian children and wrote a one sided story about their parents, you let a journalist who was herself part of a protest against government policy cover the issue and wrote articles about it in your newspaper, and you have on numerous occasions allowed your paper to be a welcome medium for people to slander others particularly through the use of smoke signals and anonymous letters.
Fundamental human rights guarantee freedom of opinion and expression and so as due process of law and the rights of the accused. By publishing anonymous letters and smoke signals designed to smear others, your newspaper is abusing free speech and eroding the rights of anyone wrongly accused or defamed to use due process of law to respond to their accusers.
I think it is time we carefully look at regulating the conduct of the media to bring some balance to irresponsible and unethical journalism that is commonplace in our country.
Tine Faasili Ponia.
Editor’s note: CI News apologises to MMR secretary Ben Ponia for the publication of Teina Rongo’s initial letter, published on the basis that the newspaper had been assured there was proof Mr Rongo had in fact applied for a particular position at Marine Resources. This proof subsequently was not produced and in a second letter, Mr Rongo revealed that he had not in fact applied for a position filled by an applicant from overseas. CI News also apologises for inadvertently publishing the smoke signal accusing Mr Ponia of favouring foreigners over qualified locals which was submitted at the time proof of Mr Rongo’s application for the ecologist position was said to be available. CI News acknowledges that its publications defamed Mr Ponia and have generated undue negative commentary about him. CI News unreservedly apologises to Mr Ponia and his family for any distress caused as a result of its actions.