Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pacific Scoop boosts media outlets for student journalists

The launch of Pacific Scoop late last month has opened the door to increased Pacific and diversity stories by student journalists at AUT University and around the region.

By Steve Chae: Pacific.Scoop

Hopes are high that Pacific Scoop will open up a window on the region with its New Zealand and global audience, says the co-founder of Scoop.

Alastair Thompson said today the parent site had increased its international reporting in the decade since it was first launched.

“We have a very outward-looking viewpoint,” he told Pacific Scoop.

“Internet has given us an opportunity for international news media. From the outset, our audience was international.”

Hosted on Scoop.co.nz, Pacific Scoop was launched at the Māori Expo held at Auckland’s Vector Arena.

Thompson said while the total audience had increased, the international audience which used to make up 50 percent overall had now dropped to 30 percent.

“The main impact of Pacific Scoop will be to expose New Zealand media to more Pacific stories and this may have an impact on the New Zealand media,” he said.

Thompson said the support of AUT University’s Pacific Media Centre and the leading role of its director, Dr David Robie, was the key to launching the new website.

Dr Robie said Pacific Scoop would be a regional website including good student journalism from universities around the Pacific as well stories from experienced media contributors.

He said it was important that some of the stories blocked by “censorship or local sensitivities” would get a chance to run and the regional audience have a wider choice of information.

Dr Robie said New Zealand was a key part of the Pacific and a new website like this would boost the watchdog role in the region.

Scoop co-editor Selwyn Manning, who initiated the plan and launched the website during a studio interview by a team of Māori and Pasifika communication students at the Māori Expo, said it was important to chase the critical issues in the region.

“New Zealand is in the Pacific, and establishing fourth estate journalism here is the real work for us,” said Manning, who is former chair of the PMC.

He said there was an arc of instability in the Pacific region with Fiji and Tonga being the hot spots over constitution and democracy issues.

As for Pacific communities in New Zealand, Manning said there was a lot to do for the media to connect with the public and picking up trends.

Sandra Kailahi, an experienced Pacific journalist with TVNZ, said she had not yet checked the website but added it would be “an awesome opportunity to have another outlet for Pacific stories”.

Current PMC chair John Utanga, of TVNZ’s Tagata Pasifika, was unable to be at the launch, but posted a best wishes message saying: “This site’s a great idea – congratulations to all who made it possible. It will certainly be added to my list of must-view Pacific news sites.”

Manning said Pacific Scoop would provide a platform and audience by providing an interaction between student journalists with those in the industry.

“We have created a forum for one place where media and academics can come together. Our goal is to reach that potential for analysis and research.

“Students have vibrant and progressive ideas. We in the industry can learn from students,” he said.

The partnership between the PMC and Scoop had been in preparation for three years and establishing the website was the logical next step.

Manning is expecting 40,000 visitors a month for Pacific Scoop as a traffic rate.

The main Scoop site gets more than 500,000 visitors a month.

He said the traffic would not determine its success in the coming days.

Manning said Scoop would be counting on the innovation and quality of the content with editorial control lying with the PMC team.

Dr Robie said diversity stories were being welcomed for Pacific Scoop.

Community focused reporting was not of much interest in mainstream but the PMC would be tapping into the cultural dialogue, he said.

Ranjit Singh, a former publisher of the Fiji Daily Post and a current holder of an annual AUT/Pacific Islands Media Association postgraduate communications scholarship, said New Zealand media was not representing the changing face its own community.

“New Zealand is increasingly brown, but the media is too white,” said Singh.

Steve Chae is a Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism at AUT University. This article is republished from Pacific Scoop.

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