Vanuatu media pioneer retires
The man largely responsible for building independent media in Vanuatu, Marc Neil-Jones of the Daily Post newspaper, has retired after two decades in the firing line.
The man largely responsible for building independent media in Vanuatu has retired.
As publisher and editor of Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper for more than twenty years, Marc Neil-Jones has frequently been in the firing line - at various points deported, assaulted and jailed over stories he's published.
He told Johnny Blades he's had a wonderful career in which he's been personally involved in breaking some of the biggest stories Vanuatu has seen.
MARC NEIL-JONES: Stories that journalists would dream about. Like the one with the heroin haul that I personally followed up, uncovered 85kg of heroin. The other main story that I am proud of was when I was thrown in jail because I demanded the suspension of a police officer for assaulting our sports editor. I got thrown in a maximum security jail by the police officers involved and while I was there I was quite nervous because we had written about half the people in the maximum security jail. And I was the only white guy in there. But I had nothing to worry about in the end. Because the prisoners were happy to see me. Because they had been physically abused, they were chained together some of them, they had marks on their back, just been brutalised. And I wrote about all of this, it got to Amnesty International and to cut a long story short, things changed. And I am proud to be able to assist in that way with stories.
JOHNNY BLADES: Now the Daily Post, stretching right back to the 90s, under your stewardship, corruption is something that the Daily Post has been exposing in Vanuatu. How do you feel things have gone? We have just seen this landmark case involving 14 MPs.
MNJ: Daily Post of course has played the main role. We have always been the main newspaper that has exposed corruption over the years. The problem has been quite simply that it has never been taken any further. So there have been some good precedents set recently. You know the fact that these same 14 have been charged with breaches of the leadership code, this sets a precedent for the future. In the past ombudsmen reports have come out, no one has taken any notice of them, they are allegations that never go through court. This is the first time that people have taken on MPs for corruption, it has been proven guilty. I think this will be a landmark decision. It is going to scare MPs now - they're going to be thinking now 'I can't take money'.
JB: You have been right there at the forefront of Vanuatu media, and during that time seen a lot of changes I guess.
MNJ: Yes. Early years were extremely difficult because politicians were not used to a free press. And we did have issues with some politicians not liking the way news was presented but that has improved over the years. We have got a growing influence of social media. You know that is a bit of concern the way it has basically opened up the door for a lot of uneducated comments and personal analysis that is just totally wrong of what is going on. I think there will always be a need for mainstream media in Vanuatu.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: