INDEPENDENT NEWS

The Information Age - Cook Islands Style

Published: Mon 24 Jan 2000 04:44 PM
AVARUA: Government embracing modern technology should be an occasion for rejoicing but the launch of the Cook Islands government website is proving to be anything but.
The purpose of the site - http://www.cook-islands.gov.ck - is apparently to provide information, including media releases and policy statements, about the Cook Islands, government departments and MPs.
This sounds unexciting but useful.
The NZ government site at http://www.govt.nz is a good example of thesort of information which it is worthwhile gathering together.
Overseas news organisations would no doubt find it convenient to access all CI government media releases in one place.
But, in what looks like an attempt to gag the local newspaper, PM'sOffice Chief of Staff Eddie Drollett says that Cook Islands News must also use the site to get releases.
This means information which could be faxed or emailed immediately, now has to be sent to Jeanne Matenga-Pitt for processing after which it would be published to the website. This might or might not be the day it was issued.
Radio and television would obviously know about these media releases butto ensure the information gets to the newspaper the issuing department would have to phone, fax or email us!
Or perhaps Drollett thinks that CI News will keep logging on just in case something of importance turns up!
Judging by the information available on Friday, nothing will.
At the moment the website contains the same sort of anti-Cook Islands News drivel to be found in TVM and the Cook Islands Star. Perhaps the same people are writing it.
Wilkie Rasmussen said on Friday that some of the information was outrageous and that only he and Arthur Taripo are authorised to write articles for the site.
It would also be interesting to know where Cabinet obtained the $17,625figure they have budgeted annually for the operation.
The site as it stands could be produced for a few hundred dollars by anyone of a number of companies on Rarotonga, including Telecom. Telecom's annual hosting charge would probably be around $500 depending on the size of the site.
Current staff could easily be trained to make the daily changes required. That leaves an awful lot of change out of seventeen thousand dollars!
In other parts of the world the right hand might not know what the left-hand is doing. Here the right hand doesn't even know there is a left-hand.
+++niuswire

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