You know when people say you should never believe what you read in the papers? This week I've been writing about four newspapers making a pact to boycott stories about the minister of foreign affairs. The four newspapers in question are STL, Timor Post, Tempo Semanal and Diario — or so I thought.
I first read about this in a story printed by Diario. The story was clear enough and it came from the horse's mouth, so to speak. What I've heard more recently is that that story was never supposed to be printed. There was allegedly a level of last-minute fiddling that went on behind editor Jose Gabriel's back. There is something fishy going on and fingers are being pointed at the director general of the paper.
Furthermore, on Thursday, Timor Post on page 19 declared that it was not part of this pact and that it would continue to report news about the foreign minister. The story called on the public not believe the other stories ran by other newspapers about the pact. It sounds very much like Timor Post wants no part of this madness, and I'm glad to hear it.
So if Timor Post and Diario are not on board, why then did Tempo Semanal run with this on Wednesday?
Timorese newspapers the Suara Timor Lorosae, Tempo Semanal, Timor Post, and Diario Nasional will boycott to cover any story put out by Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa. This is because he disrespected many Timorese journalists as a result of his actions subsequent to stories published about his threat to resign by SMS to the Office of the Prime Minister.
A plot is unraveling here and the media has taken a major blow to its credibility because of certain individuals. I don't want to get too deep into this because it would be easy enough to make myself public enemy number one, but when I said the following, clearly I was mistaken:
You have to think that the facts are accurate as Diario is essentially reporting about itself…
Who can we believe? Who can we trust? Who can we rely on? Those are the questions the 1.1 million people of this country must ask themselves on a daily basis. The actions of some individuals are going to do irreparable damage to the press in this country if something isn't done about it. This whole mess has completely diverted attention from whatever tension has been brewing between the prime minister and the foreign minister.
Again, thoughts are welcome on this. Information is also welcome as I am unable to track everything from one day to the next, but this needs to be talked about.