09:00 Hours

The Commissioner of Police
Senior Police Officers
Media Colleagues
Ladies and Gentleman

Good Morning!

It’s a pleasure to be amongst you this morning to open this two day workshop on ‘Media Image and Communication’.

Colleagues, communications and indeed the media play a vital role in the democratic processes of any nation, including Fiji - and as we move towards general elections in 2014 the media will play an even more important role in helping build and shape our nation.

I am encouraged that the purpose of this workshop is to strengthen the flow of information to the public and that the Fiji Police Force recognize the importance of your job in this process.

The traditional role of the media has always been to ensure that checks and balances are in place. In the context of government and in this case, you the police, their role is to report what you deliver, making sure that you work within the guidelines, and ensure your actions reflect what the Fiji Police Force aspires to carry out, that is, to serve the people of our nation.

But information is about building trust and that trust for each of you in this room should always start with the way you shape the information you share with the public.

This workshop is an opportunity to build your capabilities and to learn new methods and trends in the media sector. It will look at how you can strengthen and channel the flow of information from the police force, to the media and ultimately to the public. This method produces consistency, accountability and above all, transparency when communicating your message.

Colleagues, as each of you know, media trends over the years have shifted tremendously. Traditional media platforms such as newspapers, radios or television are no longer the only mediums that the public depend on to access information.

Digital technology and mass communication have played an important role in widening the scope of journalism. With it, this has produced citizen journalism, social media trends and media diversity – each of which play an inter-developing role.

Take for example citizen journalism! Citizen journalism means that anyone, with any device can capture any event and share information with a mass audience. A wheelbarrow boy or a farmer can now take footage on their cell phone and share it with a wider audience. Social media trends including Facebook, twitter or YouTube provides a platform for the public to share this information.

The way each of us see information and the media has evolved into a landscape that most of us are still not familiar with. Let’s face it, how many people in this room know how to merge their twitter feeds from their facebook and share it onto youtube from your blackberry or iPhones. For some of us its complicated, but for others it’s a way of life. Media trends are changing faster than we can keep up with.

Colleagues, I want you to imagine walking out your door in the morning, dressed in your uniform and going to work. As you step out of the house you look up and see a huge magnified glass, its light beaming straight down on you from the heavens. This is the reality of being a police officer in the 21st century; everything you do is under close observation.

In days gone by, it was you in this room holding the magnified glass, but things have changed; now the public hold it. This is how communications has evolved and how new media trends give powers to the public to be able to play a key role in journalism.

However in the context of communications and PR Image, the general public no longer see you as an individual; when you are in uniform you represent the entire force, and you represent an authority.

They do not want to see you slouched at a desk, chewing gum, carrying the shopping, leaning against a post or poorly dressed. They want to see professionalism and they want an image of you that will make them feel safe.

My message is clear; we can no longer view the media in traditional terms. We are now in a position where our every action is closely monitored and scrutinized by the public, where the talanoa session is now online, reaching millions of people in the global village. Never has there been a time in history where information has passed so quickly and without our control.

These next two days will allow you to look closely at media trends. It will look at ways of developing and strengthening your relationship with those in the media sector. It will be an opportunity to position the Fiji Police Force in a way that will allow the public to trust you, and to work with you.

It is only therefore appropriate that I acknowledge and commend the Commissioner of Police and the Fiji Police Force for understanding the importance of this workshop.

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues; while this workshop is designed to boost the presence of the Fiji Police Force; I call on each of you to share challenges, to propose recommendations and to commit to processes that will not only improve the way you share information with the public, but the way the public shares information with you.

With those words, I thank each of you and I wish you success in your workshop.