Saturday, March 13, 2010

NZ sponsors regional conflict reporting media forum

Pacific Media Centre

JAKARTA: Six New Zealand and Pacific delegates - including Pacific Media Centre director Associate Professor David Robie - were among journalists from across the East Asia region who gathered in Jakarta this week for a conference on reporting the "intersection of politics, religion and culture" in times of conflict.

The three-day conference was co-sponsored by the New Zealand government and the European Union.

"We have seen examples of how media reporting on sensitive issues, particularly in situations of conflict and terrorism can exacerbate tensions," said Chris Langley, New Zealand's deputy head of mission at the Embassy in Jakarta.

"This is especially the case where reporting delves into cultural and religious issues but is not well founded or balanced.

"This conference is a unique opportunity for 57 senior journalists from the region's major media outlets to step back from the daily demands of the newsroom and examine how they are reporting on security issues - what they are doing well and what could be improved."

After the opening, Langely participated throughout the conference as an observer.

The Secretary-General of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Dr Surin Pitsuwan, opened the conference and the keynote address was given by former Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

"We have secured a top line-up of presenters for the conference who will speak from first-hand experience about conflict and journalism in our region," said Langley.

The first East Asian Regional Media Programme was held in Jakarta in late 2008.

A report on this week's conference will be posted on the ministry's website:

The Indonesian government and Press Council, and ASEAN were key supporters of this event.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade organised the conference for journalists from the 16 member countries of the East Asia Summit, which includes New Zealand.

On the closing day of the media forum, delegates were hosted at Pesentren Darunnajah Boarding School in South Jakarta, regarded as a model of traditional Islamic education. Many delegates regarded this visit as a highlight of the week.

Pictured: Top: New Zealand Herald online reporter Eddie Gay talks to Indonesian journalists; Top Middle: Cambodian Daily reporter Phorn Bopha with Pesantren Darunnajah students; Bottom Middle: Manila Times journalist Julmunir I. Jannaral (left) with Pesantren staff; Above: PMC director Dr David Robie with Pesantren students. Photos: Pacific Media Centre

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