Vanuatu Daily Post passes 4,000th issue milestone
The publisher and founder of Vanuatu's only daily newspaper, the Vanuatu Daily Post, Marc Neil-Jones takes stock of the significant milestone of the publication's 4,000th issue being printed.
The publisher and founder of Vanuatu's only daily newspaper, the Vanuatu Daily Post, Marc Neil-Jones, has paid tribute to his staff after the publication's 4,000th issue was printed.
In the 20 years since the creation of their newspaper, Marc Neil-Jones and his staff have been subjected to threats, intimidation and assaults, in a country where government figures are still coming to terms with the notion of media freedom. Marc Neil-Jones says his newspaper has broken practically every major sensitive story in Vanuatu in that time.
He told Johnny Blades that he's delighted about the milestone.
MARC NEIL-JONES: It is a major, major milestone for media in Vanuatu. This is 4,000 issues over 20 years and 10 years as the nation's only daily newspaper. So we've gone through a lot and we've achieved a lot. And I congratulated all the staff and we had our big cake and celebration in the office this afternoon.
JOHNNY BLADES: It's not easy doing what you do in the Pacific and in Vanuatu, is it?
MNJ: No, it hasn't been. It's a lot easier now than it has been in the past. It was in that challenging time that I decided, as a foreigner then, that 'Alright, let's have a go at this' and I got approval from the then prime minister Maxime Carlot Korman, who, I think, as being the prime minister that did open up media here. Despite there being hassles, towards the end of the '90s we started printing ombudsman reports from Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson and she was using our paper to print full public reports which were really damning, exposing corruption. And we had a lot of readers and it gathered momentum there. We still have problems. The government was not used to a free press. And it was a very challenging time. Most people know the background. I've been assaulted a few times and was deported in 2001 by the prime minister for supposedly revealing sensitive state secrets, when all we had done was carried news on bank guarantees involving Amarendra Nath Ghosh and his infamous ruby. Eventually the forged bank guarantees got Sope a three-year jail sentence. We still persevered. And without my staff... Yes, a lot of the hassles I unfortunately had to go through. But I had good staff. People don't appreciate that.
JB: And I suppose a lot of these episodes that you have been subject to - the intimidation, the assaults - and some of your staff, as well - must be a measure of how much reach the Daily Post has had.
MNJ: Yes, there is always a government reaction if they smell danger. If you get a strong government reaction on a story you know it's hit home. And our role as the media organisation is to put things out into the public for discussion as long as we're accurate in our news.
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