Monday, December 6, 2010

PMC launches new 'social justice' media website

Pacific Scoop: By Courtney Wilson

The new Pacific Media Centre’s Web 2 news site has been launched at the inaugural Media, Investigative Journalism and Technology Conference.

The new site is a collaborative work, which brings together a range of resources from separate sites including Pacific Media Watch, Pacific Scoop and Pacific media research.

The site also links to Dr David Robie’s blog Café Pacific. Dr Robie is director of the Pacific Media Centre, an associate professor at AUT University and editor of Pacific Scoop.

Tony Murrow, the site developer, said the goal of the site was to bring the huge array of content into one umbrella website.

Dr Robie said the independent website was created with the idea of challenging the role of media around the Pacific.

“We seek to report the untold stories and issues that are simply not being canvassed by other media in the region,” he said.

“And if there is any bias at all on the website it is in favour of social justice.”

He said while many newsrooms are being cut “back to the bone” and web stories are super short, AUT University’s journalism programme is asking postgraduate students for more complexity and quality in their reports.

Contributing editor of Pacific Media Watch Alex Perrottet said the site would be an extremely useful resource for anyone looking for information, not only on the Pacific, but specifically on media and journalism in the region.

“The Pacific is an amazing place and there is an eclectic collection of individuals and groups fighting for a range of worthy ideals.

“Media is a major theme but there are many other important issues often overlooked by our Western media, even those outlets that focus on the Pacific.”

The website will soon change the format of Pacific Media Watch from an email service to an RSS feed.

“You will find quite a history there already of anything and everything to do with the media in the Pacific,” Perrottet said.

There will also be a heightened presence of university media and journalism research on the new website.

Co-editor of Pacific Scoop Selwyn Manning said he was pleased to see the year-old Pacific Scoop paired next to good, strong research.

“It gives a place where a new generation of journalists can express their work outside of a university,” he said.

Manning said the new site is an easily navigable framework, which contains a magnitude of content.

“It is displayed in a visual way as an example of convergence working,” he said.

Visit the new website here.

Courtney Wilson is a graduating Bachelor of Communication Studies student journalist on an internship with AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.
  • Pacific Media Centre blog updates will now be posted here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Barbara Dreaver, Nicky Hager talk investigative reporting at AUT

Some of the PMC graduating journalists covering the MIJT conference this weekend - Rose Rees-Owen (second from left), Hamish Fletcher and Pacific Media Watch editor Alex Perrottet - along with PMC director David Robie and chair John Utanga (right).

AUT University

Anyone with an interest in writing, reading or studying investigative journalism, will benefit from a conference at AUT University this weekend.

Speakers at the conference, which organisers have dubbed a “fourth estate conversation”, will examine investigative journalism in New Zealand and the Pacific, both now and into the future.

Many experienced journalists including TVNZ’s Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver; publisher of the Nepali Times Kunda Dixit; New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager; and director of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism Professor Wendy Bacon, will share their perspectives.

And for student journalists and newly qualified journalists a masterclass will give them the opportunity to learn about the techniques of investigative journalism from a team of international journalists.

“Our aim is to start a conversation about the future of investigative journalism in New Zealand and the Pacific. In particular, we will be looking for new ways to help investigative journalism thrive,” says conference chair and director of AUT’s Pacific Media Centre, Associate Professor David Robie.

“Cutbacks in specialist staff and reduced resources have had a negative impact on investigative reporting in many media organisations. This conference will focus on independent funding models and strategies in collaborative investigations, and hopefully lead the set-up of a new group to support investigative journalism in New Zealand.”

The conference aims to raise awareness of investigative journalism in all its forms, so exhibitions and screenings of photojournalism, documentaries and multimedia presentations, are a key part of the programme.

A highlight will be the launch of the Frames of War photojournalism exhibition by keynote speaker Kunda Dixit.

What: Media, Investigative Journalism and Technology Conference 2010
Where: AUT University Conference Centre, AUT University (City Campus)
When: 4 & 5 December 2010
Exhibition launch: Ground Floor, AUT Tower Building, 6pm, Saturday, December 4
Contact: Andrea Steward, conference organiser 0273382700

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pasifika among top investigative journalism case studies

War victims: A tearful Sumitra Adhikari, 16, carries fodder for the family at Chaimale, near Kathmandu. Photo: Deependra Bajracharya

Pacific Media Centre

Key Asia-Pacific, Australian and New Zealand investigative journalists and researchers will gather at AUT University next month for a media “conversation” that will feature diverse issues such as war reporting, scams and global warming probes.

They will also consider the future of independent journalism and map out a strategy for more robust inquiry.

The two-day conference at AUT University on 4/5 December 2010, organised by the Pacific Media Centre, will host an investigative “masterclass” for young journalists, New Zealand’s first seminar on peace journalism, and screen groundbreaking documentaries or multimedia presentations on mining and Kanak independence in New Caledonia, Māori land rights in the Far North, and climate change.

Five leading Pacific Islands investigative journalists are also participating in the conference.

“This is a niche conference and one that features a range of innovative speakers and challenging investigation case studies,” says conference chair Associate Professor David Robie, director of the PMC.

“But there is also a very practical and achievable goal. We hope a group may emerge from this conference to provide more space and support for investigative and probing journalism in New Zealand and the Pacific.”

Television New Zealand Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver is the latest keynote speaker to join the Media, Investigative Journalism and Technology conference at AUT University on December 4/5. She has broken many stories around the region and investigated many key issues.

She joins Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times and an Asia-Pacific investigative journalist; New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager; and Professor Wendy Bacon, director of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism and who runs a global environmental investigative journalism programme.

Other Pacific participants include Koroi Hawkins, chief-of-staff of Television One Solomon Islands; Patrick Matbob of Divine Word University in Madang, Papua New Guinea; Kalafi Moala, publisher of the Taimi Media Network (Tonga); and Shailendra Singh, head of journalism at the University of the South Pacific.

The PMC is also hosting a masterclass in investigative journalism for student journalists and younger journalists facilitated by a team of international investigative journalists, including Dixit, Bacon and Dr Kayt Davies; and a specialist peace journalism seminar, organised by Dr Heather Devere of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Rukhsana Aslam, a peace journalism educator from Pakistan.

Exhibitions of photojournalism by a collective facilitated by Kunda Dixit covering the decade-long Maoist civil war in Nepal and Ngapuhi social issues photographer John Miller (featuring the little-known Ngatihine land rights struggle) plus workshops about challenging documentaries by Jim Marbrook and Selwyn Manning are part of the programme.

A seminar about the making of the award-winning film about global warming There Once was an Island: Te Henua e Noho is also featured.

A new Pasifika media portal will be launched at the conference – it will go “live” then and replace the current PMC website:

Don't miss this rare opportunity. Registration for the conference is now open.

More information on the conference website (and registration details):

The Pacific Media Watch database is at:
  • Registration for two days: $150
  • Masterclass registration only: $50
  • Contact: Conference organiser Andrea Steward 0273382700

Sunday, November 14, 2010

PMC new Pasifika media portal live soon

Pacific Media Centre

The Pacific Media Centre is soon launching a new Pasifika media portal. This niusblog, Pacific Media Watch, Pacific Scoop and our many other services will be linked to this new website. Watch for it when it is launched on December 4 at the Media, Investigative Journalism and Technology 2060 conference. It will have the same url link as the existing website ( which is currently no longer updated).

Monday, October 18, 2010

PJR wins global creative industries award

Pacific Media Centre

Pacific Journalism Review has won a Creative Stimulus Award for academic journals in the inaugural Academy Awards of the Global Creative Industries in Beijing, China, this month.

The journal, published by AUT University’s Pacific Media Centre and now in its 16th year, was one of five international journals to receive awards.

Other journals honoured include the British-based International Journal of Cultural Studies.

Professor Barry King of AUT’s Faculty of Creative Technologies, who was present for the awards ceremony as part of the 5th Creative China Harmonious World International Forum on Cultural Industries, accepted the prize on PJR’s behalf.

Professor King, who is on the advisory board of the PMC, said: “The inclusion of PJR with world class journals such as the International Journal of Cultural Studies is a testament to its development into a journal of reference and international quality in the field of journalism practice and education.

“AUT’s international reputation in a key partner market benefits significantly from the efforts of the editor, Associate Professor David Robie, and his team.”

The award citation said that in view of its “innovation and contribution in reporting hot topics” PJR was being awarded the title of “Motivated Thinking Periodical”.

During the conference, the Global Academic Association of Cultural Industries (GAACI) was established.

In the initiation ceremony, Professor Fan Zhou, dean of the Institute of Cultural Industries (ICI), Communication University of China (CUC); and Professor John Hartley, foundation dean of the Faculty of Creative Industries at Australia's Queensland University of Technology, delivered the founding declaration.

Six other members in different fields of cultural industries, including AUT's Professor King, also participated in the ceremony.

Other universities include the University of Adelaide, Australia; Belgium's Free University of Brussels; Chulalongkorn University of Thailand; Keio University of Japan; and Singapore's Nanyang Technology University.

Professor Fan said: "The association will build a cooperation platform by sharing research and teaching resources and experience, including staff exchange, joint research programmes and academic conferences to promote the development of education and research in cultural industries."

Pictured: Top: Professor Barry King (third from right) at the inauguration of the Global Academic Association of Cultural Industries (GAACI) in Beijing. Middle: PJR editor Dr David Robie with the plaque and certificate (Photo: Melanie Curry-Irons/AUT). Above: The latest edition of PJR.

Institute for Cultural Industries (CUC)
Database for Pacific Journalism Review articles
PJR website

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A stint at the China Daily Online

Michele Ong, AUT journalism graduate working for the Rodney Times, spent three months in China earlier this year on an AUT University-China Daily Exchange Internship organised by AUT's Pacific Media Centre with Asia:NZ Foundation funding for air travel at the online arm of China’s national English newspaper, China Here are some of her experiences and tips she shared on her return.

I WENT to Beijing in April 2010 - by then I had already been working for the Rodney Times for three months, but my editor was very supportive of me and granted me three months off.

The organisation is comprised of the newspaper, China Daily, and the website, Both are independent of each other in terms of operation but share the same masthead. I worked as a copy-editor for the website’s travel and culture department.

I had an amazing experience working in Beijing—I definitely enjoyed my time there.

Working for the website’s travel department, I spent my days editing travel brochures and cultural stories. Although it sounds cushy, the reality of it is quite different. The brochures were often many pages long (I once edited a 16-page long article on Anhui province which took me a good three days. I later discovered it was bound, printed and distributed to visitors).

The brochures were also often translated into English from Mandarin by a freelance translator or someone who works for the local government tour board. So deciphering the sentences can sometimes be a major challenge as well as a huge test of patience. I did the best I could with those stories.

But what I’ve learnt is as long as you are enthusiastic, polite and willing to learn, the local colleagues are more than happy to help you understand the mumbo-jumbo that’s in front of you. It can be tempting at times to just do a “whatever” job in editing the pieces—after all, it’s not like they are none the wiser, right? Wrong. I checked with a local colleague and he told me they can sort of tell if you’ve put any effort into editing the stories.

Sometimes you’d have the reporters coming back to you asking about the changes you’d made to their work. The thing to remember is, they are not undermining your work, but they are just keen to learn. If I was not pressed for time, I would explain to them the changes that I’d made. They were usually very grateful for any input.

Travelling to Anhui
During my internship, I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to travel to Anhui province with a local colleague. Anhui’s local tourism board had just launched a campaign to promote tourism in their city and was keen to have two China Daily reporters do a write-up.

The board sponsored me and my colleague’s accommodation and food. The local tourism board put us up in a fancy hotel by Shanghai’s The Bund before arranging a two-day tour for us at Anhui, where we climbed Huangshan Mountain and visited an ancient town. My job was to do a write-up of the trip. It can be found here.

Although it was a very tiring week, with lots of late nights (I was basically my colleague’s editor on demand. She would write the story and have me edit it before sending it back to the website), early mornings and crazy long hours on the road (I counted I had spent at least 33 hours on the road in just a week), it was definitely one of my highlights working with China Daily.

When I whined to my local friend about my five hour bus trip from Huangshan Mt to Hefei, capital of Anhui, followed by a 12-hour ride from Hefei back to Beijing (all on the same day), he said “You’re now travelling like a local!”.

Living in Beijing
My work hours were 8.30pm till 5.30pm with an hour’s lunch break. I was given an allowance of 2000 yuan a month (NZD400). I was given an apartment at the newspaper’s compound.

Because I was a “foreign expert” I had the whole apartment, fully furnished, to myself (I even got the newspaper delivered to my room every morning. It’s unbelievable). It got a bit lonely at times, going home to an empty apartment but I can’t complain because it beats having to share it with a stranger. I didn’t have to pay for rent, although I did have to pay for utilities which were a flat rate of 300 yuan a month (NZD60). If you’re too caught up in other work to sweep and mop your apartment (Beijing is one very dusty city), for 50 kuai (NZD10) you can get the apartment service lady to come and tidy your apartment for you.

As for my meals, I initially had my breakfast, lunch and dinner at the newspaper’s canteen but I soon got bored with it and would only have lunches there with my colleagues. Canteen food costs on average eight yuan (approx NZD 2.50) for rice and two meat/vegetable options.

I found my three month stint at Beijing to be a bit short, although I’m sure my editor would dispute this. At times I found the Chinese capital overwhelming with its traffic jams and its crowds (people everywhere!) but I soon got used to it. It took me about a month to get used to the work environment and find my way around Beijing using the subway.

Tips for surviving in Beijing:
• Learn basic Chinese. I majored in Chinese when I was at university, so I can understand and speak the language, even if I’m not very fluent for lack of practice. However, basic knowledge of Chinese will be an advantage. If all fails, have an English-Chinese app loaded on to your iPhone, a complete life saver.

• Make contact with the intern who went before you. I got in touch with Guanny Liu who went in 2009.

• Do make friends with the locals. I found them to be very friendly and helpful. They helped me settle down and even took me to out during the weekends to popular tourist spots.

• Do make friends with the foreigners, because sometimes you just want to have some good old burger and fries.

• Do bring some food (optional) such as longlife milk, Milo, chocolates, biscuits… your favourite foods basically. You don’t want to be left out in the cold should homesickness strike.

• Do pack medication such as Panadol, cough drops, cold/flu and diarrhoea tablets.

• Do notify New Zealand Embassy you’re heading to Beijing.

• Go with an open mind and have fun

Pictures: Top: Michele Ong in news presenting mode with colleagues at the China Daily Online (Photo: David Robie); Michele in assignment in Anhui (Photo: Michele Ong); and a China Daily editorial conference (Photo: David Robie).

AUT's School of Communication Studies Asia-Pacific internships organised by the Pacific Media Centre with support by the Asia: NZ Foundation

Pacific Media Centre's Facebook for internship students

Kristina Koveshnikova's updated AUT 'survival kit' for Beijing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pacific journalists defend free media in latest PJR

Pacific Media Centre

Sophie Foster, assistant editor of the Fiji Times, is among leading journalists who have lambasted curbs on media freedom in the latest edition of Pacific Journalism Review.

She condemned the “growth of self-censorship” within Fiji’s media industry while revealing the findings of a recent survey of mainstream journalists.

Foster took sudden leave at the Fiji Times after a newsroom upheaval last week that saw former editor-in-chief Netani Rika resign and Sunday Times editor Fred Wesley become appointed acting chief editor.

She wrote in the “Media freedom in Oceania” edition of PJR being published by AUT University’s Pacific Media Centre tomorrow that self-censorship was already a feature of the Fiji news media.

“With journalists now coming face to face with the fact that the whole truth or freedom of expression is not being fully exercised, some are now having to consider self-censoring stories they work on – because they know that, unless they do, their stories won’t meet the censors’ approval,” she wrote.

“The fact that journalists are beginning to consider this course of action – considering going against their professional ethics and beliefs – is a telling factor and a worrying one for the future of freedom of expression in Fiji.”

According to her survey, the “vast majority” of responding journalists said they needed censorship lifted to do their job better.

The survey also found that “100 percent” of respondents did not believe the work they did was a threat to security.

“Many of the journalists who do the work they do in Fiji, do so because they believe they are in the midst of delivering a public service and a public good – one that involves them being the watchdog for the average citizen, keeping an eye on the injustices, insufficiencies, inaction and highlighting these things for the purpose of making a better Fiji,” Foster wrote.

Most of the edition commentaries were presented at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day conference hosted by the University of Queensland in Brisbane in May.

Authors include Papua New Guinea Chief Ombudsman Chronox Manek, Pacific Freedom Forum coordinator Lisa Williams-Lahari and co-chair Susuve Laumea; Samoa Observer publisher and editor-in-chief Savea Sano Malifa, Cook Islands News managing editor and secretary/treasurer of the Pasifika Media Association (PasiMA) John Woods; Transparency Vanuatu president Marie-Noelle Ferrieux Patterson; Vois Blong Yumi Project leader Francis Herman; and Pacific Media Centre director Associate Professor David Robie.

Research papers include several about the three-month-old Media Industry Development Decree, “collaborative journalism”, the non-government organisation and civil society community and “life under censorship” in Fiji (by Shailendra Singh of the University of the South Pacific), and one article focuses on two newspaper case studies in media freedom in Tonga.

In the editorial, Associate Professor Martin Hadlow of UOQ's School of Journalism and Communication noted that the UNESCO conference “provided a platform for journalism and media professionals from the Pacific region to gather in special pre and post-conference workshops to discuss concerns and fears about repressive regimes”.

Supported by a grant from the UNESCO Office of Pacific States, this edition of PJR – now in its 16th year of publication – was jointly edited by Martin Hadlow, Marsali Mackinnon and managing editor David Robie.

PJR website
Order copies of v16(2) here
Malcolm Evans website

Friday, October 8, 2010

Charting a new course for the Fiji Times

Full text of Fiji Broadcasting Corporation news director Stanley Simpson's interview with new Fiji Times publisher Dallas Swinstead on 6 October 2010:

What is the new direction, if any, that the Fiji Times will be taking?

I want to add to the quality product we already have. This will range across all the various features that good newspapers offer. We have excellent world-wide editorial service suppliers but most of all we have a strong, professional editorial department, a department which like most others here at The Fiji Times has really been fearful of their newspaper’s survival.

As everyone knows, Mahendra Patel at Motibhai saved the day. I mention him not for a free plug but to tell you what many people do not know: he has been a board member of the Fiji Times for about 34 years. He knows enough about newspaper ethics and policies to leave new directions to the publisher - me - and I am grateful for that.

The key question everyone asks but, if they stop to think about it, everyone knows the answer to, is your question: new directions?

Yes, we are changing direction. Having watched News Ltd perish in this country, there’s no sense in committing suicide, even with a locally-owned replacement. There is no doubt that The Fiji Times cannot be antagonistic to the government, What on earth does it prove? But we will ask questions in a fair and balanced way because we will be helping to bring the people to the government.

Did Netani Rika resign because he would not go with the new direction you have set for the Fiji Times?

In a word, yes. To his eternal credit, he, in his own words “sacrificed his job” for the Fiji Times. We had several long, constructive and sensitive sessions and the ending was pretty sad for both of us. He’s like the rest of us – we are proud to be employed and we have families to look after. In time, as Fiji finds its way, he will play his part in its history because he is an intelligent and thoughtful person.

I understand you have had a meeting with the Permanent Secretary for Information [Sharon Smith-Johns] – How did the meeting go?

The meeting went well. I presented my credentials, which if I may say so, are pretty good; I said my piece and the permanent secretary said hers. I certainly understood that she was delivering the government’s line and in my short time here I already chosen to support that line. Why? Because most respected people here have spoken to me about infrastructure finally taking shape; about one nation one people, about equality from coast to coast. If you like, you can be cynical about it, but from where I stand – and I first made up my mind about this in 1979 as I left after four years in the chair at the times - the two main communities have to learn to live together EQUALLY, with equal opportunity and equal hard work.

The Fiji Sun is posing a strong challenge – how do you see the competition with the Sun?

Well, when I was last here [PMC editor: The previous Fiji Sun at the time of the 1987 Rabuka coups - no connection to the current newspaper] eventually wobbled to a stop. Now it’s going again and because of a most unequal playing field it is doing better than it might otherwise do. I’m not prepared to comment on its content or its quality.

How confident are you of pulling back government advertising to the Fiji Times?

This will depend on us proving to the people, and thus to the government that we are a newspaper with a good, strong heart and a love for Fiji. We have to help people understand that there some highly-educated soldiers walking on this path set by their leader and, given that education, they will all yearn for democratic elections when the time comes. It is, I believe, inevitable and exciting.

Pictured: New Fiji Times publisher Dallas Swinstead. Photo: Fiji Times

Stanley Simpson's report on FBCNews

On Pacific Scoop

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scholarship supports Pasifika research on Fiji media freedom

By Yvonne Brill: Office of Pasifika Advancement

Former publisher of Fiji’s Daily Post newspaper and political commentator Ranjit Singh has been given the opportunity to fulfill his dreams of working on a media research project close to his heart - media freedom in his homeland.

Singh says that while he has experience in the media industry, academic study will help him “smooth out the rough diamond”.

The funding received through the AUT/Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) Pasifika Communications scholarship for his studies has enabled him to begin that journey.

Singh is the 2009 recipient of the postgraduate scholarship. Through his research, he is investigating media freedom with a focus on Fiji. Singh also has an interest in issues of fairness and balance in reporting by Fijian media.

Already tertiary qualified with an MBA from Massey University, Singh’s decision to resume study reflects his desire to see a truly ‘free press”, and stand up to what he says is “ignorance and misinformation” on the part of some journalists and media outlets.

“I have held a belief that any media in any country should be a reflection of society,” says Singh.

“My research is of great importance and significance to media studies, as it attempts to firstly remove the myth about a free, responsible and balanced press and about media freedom in a Third World country.”

Abuse of freedom
Singh says that it is not good enough for media groups and organisations to blindly blame governments for interfering with press freedom. They must also consider if any abuse of press freedom is happening within the media organisations themselves.

This is of special interest in multiracial environments such as Fiji, which has been crippled by racially divisive politics and racial overtones from politicians through the media for many decades, he says.

A key part of his research considers the responsibility of media in a developing country suffering from racial divisions. Upon completion, he plans to send his research to academics and press organisations in his native Fiji.

A chance encounter with Asia-Pacific journalism educator and director of the Pacific Media Centre, Associate Professor David Robie, prompted Singh to consider researching the media in his homeland.

After learning about the AUT/PIMA scholarships, Singh applied and won one of the two annual awards.

“I have always felt that there was a vacuum in media research on Fiji,” says Singh, who hopes his research will encourage others to conduct research in media studies.

Singh plans to work within the New Zealand media in future to add diversity to the industry.

“Had it not been for the scholarship, I would not have done it so I am very thankful. I am thankful to PIMA and AUT, and in particular David Robie, who encourages Pacific media and research,” says Singh.

Long established
The AUT/PIMA scholarships were established in 2004. AUT School of Communication Studies sponsors the scholarships, which are worth NZD$10,000 a year and cover tuition for one year of full-time study. They may be renewed depending on academic performance.

Both undergraduate and postgraduate students are eligible to apply.

PIMA executive board chair Iulia Leilua says scholarship recipients are assessed by academic performance, work experience, maturity and general commitment to Pasifika media. She adds that the scholarships reflect PIMA’s desire to encourage more Pasifika people enter the media industry.

There are 17 alumni of the AUT/PIMA scholarship, starting with the first, Leilani Momoisea - now a successful broadcast journalist working at Radio New Zealand.

At the PIMA annual general meeting on October 1, undergraduate scholarship recipients Courtenay Brooking and Jordan Puati acknowledged PIMA and AUT for providing Pasifika students with the opportunity to add to the advances in media studies.

“My ethnicity definitely has an impact on who I am as a person and will no doubt influence my career. I think it’s important for there to be more Pasifika and Maori students to go to University and to be supported and succeed” says Brooking, a Samoan/Māori student in her last year of the Bachelor in Communication Studies programme.

Applications for the 2011 scholarships close in November 2010 for undergraduate and January 2011 for postgraduate study. This year people enrolling for the new Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism can apply for the scholarship.

Yvonne Brill is a postgraduate student from AUT’s School of Communication Studies. She is completing a corporate studentship in PR/communications for the Office of Pasifika Advancement.

Pictured: (from left) AUT/PIMA Pasifika Communication Scholarship holders Ranjit Singh (postgraduate), Courtenay Brooking and Jordan Puati (undergraduate). Photo: Yvonne Brill/OPA

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tagaloatele speaks to PIMA conference

Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop's opening comments at the PIMA 2010 conference

Kia orana, malo e lelei, fakalofa lahi atu, ni sa bula vinaka, taloha ni, namaste, talofa lava and warm Pacific greetings.

Faafetai Pastor for your well chosen words of blessing for this Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) opening, reminding us of the tremendous responsibilities of the media. You referred to the media as the eyes, the ears and voice of Pacific people. Can I also add that, to me, the media also represents the "heart" of Pacific people? Faafetai.

It is my pleasure and honour to welcome you all to AUT University and the PIMA conference today and to the home of the School of Communication Studies and the Pacific Media Centre, which, as I have been told, saw the birthplace of PIMA almost 10 years ago. A warm welcome, especially to those from overseas - such as our renowned keynote speaker Kalafi Moala – and to others here whom I have only seen "on the news" and /or "in the news". I also welcome the Hon. Hone Harawira, Māori Party MP for Te Tai Tokerau. Faafetai for joining us today.

I would like to acknowledge the support to Pacific journalism over the years of Dr Alan Cocker, head of the School of Communication Studies; Dean of Creative Industries Desna Jury; Pacific Media Centre Advisory Board and chair John Utanga; and Associate Professor David Robie – director of the Pacific Media Centre. Also, a huge faafetai to Rosemary Brewer who plays a key role in the Bachelor of Communication Studies degree and continues to offer strong support to our Pacific Students. I also acknowledge the director of the Office of Pacific Advancement, Pauline Winter and the Ministry of Pacific Islands Affairs (MPIA) who are also sponsoring this meeting.

When I was thinking about what to say this morning, I thought about the beautiful "Palagi/Raj" term "jewel in the crown". Since coming to AUT almost a year ago, I have found the School of Communication Studies and the Pacific Media Centre to be one of the brightest jewels in the AUT crown.

This school is one of exciting initiatives, such as today, "outside the box" ideas and people - all of whom are passionate about Pacific journalism - sharing information, and making sure people are informed and "getting things right" and investigative journalism. This commitment is not only to Pacific people, but to the wider public – making sure they are informed about Pacific views and interpretations/ideas/spins on stories.

The planning which has gone into this meeting signifies another step in the development of the Pacific journalism and curriculum. In earlier days, the focus was on how Pacific (issues) were portrayed in the media (if at all) by amount and content and, stereotypes. Today, as seen in the programme, there are new challenges. In a very fine master’s thesis I have just been reading – the writer focussed on some of the challenges Pacific journalists face as they reconcile and negotiate their professional credo of freedom of the press, equity and justice and, their own cultural meanings and values. This student asked, "How can Pacific journalism transform the media"?

Back to childhood
These words took me back to my own childhood, when to me, anything that was written down was truth – as, the Bible, the newspapers, textbooks. I suspect that this is the same for many Pacific people today. What a responsibility this belief places on journalists! I also remember some words from a recently published biography of Queen Salote that, "whatever Queen Salote said was truth". Again, this is food for thought.

Finally, I would like to say a few words about the relationship between AUT and PIMA:

• As noted, AUT and the School of Communication Studies have supported the Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) and its annual conference since the first one in 2001.

• The school has sponsored the two annual AUT/PIMA Pasifica Communication Studies undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships worth more than $10,000 a year since 2002.

• Seventeen Pasifika students have been helped by the scholarship programme and some have made their mark in the media industry today, such as Leilani Momoisea - the first graduate on the programme with a Bachelor of Communication Studies, on Radio New Zealand; Christine Gounder, who completed a masters degree and is also working on Radio New Zealand after working on NiuFM: and John Pulu who is now with Tagata Pasifika on TVNZ.

• Three Pacific scholarship and internship students linked to the PMC have produced research theses on media topics and more are on the way. I referred to one earlier … the author used a mainstream methodology and then applied a Pacific cultural spin to that.

• Cooperation between the school's Pacific Media Centre and PIMA over media development and research projects. One of the founders of PIMA, John Utanga, is now the advisory board chair of PMC.

And the Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism course of study, which will take its first intake of students next year is another exciting new AUT initiative. The School of Communications is presently going through the process of appointing a Pasifika journalism lecturer.

To conclude, congratulations to the PIMA executive on attracting this large group of influential, informed, talented and stroppy Pacific journalists to this forum today and, wannabes - such as me. I look forward to hearing about the new organisation, PasiMA.

Manuia le fonotaga – best wishes for the discussions, the ideas that will be shared, and the networks and relationships which will be built.

Malo soifua

Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop speaking at the PIMA conference @ AUT University on 1 October 2010. This is the text of her opening address. Also pictured, MP Hone Harawira. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC

Kalafi Moala's keynote speech
PIMA website

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Boost Pacific climate change 'frontline' coverage and analysis, PMC educator tells media

Pacific Media Watch

News media need to boost their coverage and analysis of Pacific environmental issues to meet the critical challenges facing the region, says a journalism educator.

Associate Professor David Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre, told a creativity and climate change conference at the University of the South Pacific in Suva this week that most media were not doing enough about the issues.

With up to 75 million Asia-Pacific climate change refugees being predicted by 2050 by many science reports, news media needed to urgently “up their game” on environmental reporting.

Describing some of the environmental indicators confronting the region and the failure of Australia and New Zealand to adopt more radical carbon emission reduction targets and to give greater support to adaptation strategies in the Pacific, Dr Robie told the conference developing nations in the Pacific were in the frontline of global climate change.

News media needed to adopt “frontline” news reporting and analysis strategies to challenge policy priorities.

The survival of countries such as Kiribati, Tuvalu and remote parts of the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea and Tonga were at stake.

Climate change had the potential to have an impact on almost every development and poverty issue in the region.

Part of solution?
“So where does the mainstream media fit in the middle of this complex scenario and the digital technologies revolution? Is the media part of the problem or part of the solution?” Dr Robie asked.

“For the most part, it is probably part of the problem. The relentless pursuit of ratings, short-term circulation spinoffs, the dumbing down of content and ruthless cutting back of staff are examples of this.

“And there are many instances of poor editorial judgment or downright sensationalist opportunism that accentuate this problem.

“These frequently overshadow the times when the news media does a credible job and puts in considerable effort over public social justice and environmental issues and other agenda-setting reports such as climate change.”

Dr Robie talked of several innovative information initiatives on climate change and the effective use of social and independent media that challenges mainstream “sluggishness” on the issues.

He praised the experimental new media project headed by the University of Technology, Sydney, based on the website Reportage-Enviro which is linked to the Global Environmental Journalism Initiative (GEGI) – run cooperatively by several international journalism schools – and Pacific Scoop.

Climate refugee film
One of the highlights of the conference was the screening of the new film There Once Was an Island: Te Henua e Nnoho directed by New Zealander Briar March, which tells the story of an isolated Polynesian community on Takuu Atoll in the Mortlocks in Papua New Guinea losing their culture and their homes as some prepare to relocate in Melanesian Bougainville more than 250 km to the south-west.

They are among the first of the climate change refugees in the Pacific and their on-screen story was greeted with emotion by the audience.

Picture: PMC director David Robie with staff and volunteers of the School of Language, Arts and Media (SLAM) at the conference farewell, University of the South Pacific, Fiji.

Boost Pacific climate change coverage on Pacific Scoop
More about There Once Was an Island
The USP creativity and climate change conference

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Key speakers lining up for investigative journalism conference

From TOKTOK: Pacific Media Centre newsletter

Several key speakers are being lined up for the Media, Investigative Journalism and Technology 2010 conference being organised by the Pacific Media Centre at AUT University in December.

Australian Centre for Investigative Journalism director Professor Wendy Bacon, Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit and New Zealand’s leading investigative journalist Nicky Hager, author and a frequent contributor to the Sunday Star-Times on intelligence and environment issues, are among the key speakers.

The programme will feature preview clips of investigative film maker Jim Marbrook’s documentary Cap Bocage about indigenous land, mining and the marine environment in New Caledonia, an exhibition of Dixit’s photojournalism collection of the 10-year Maoist war in Nepal and many innovative investigative projects.

A student masterclass in investigative journalism is also being planned.

Peer-reviewed papers will be published in a special edition of Pacific Journalism Review in May 2011.

The conference, to be held on December 4-5, 2010 is dedicated to exploring investigative journalism and documentary techniques, methodologies and technologies of critical value to public interest issues and to identify and support journalists, photographers and film makers facing pressures and obstacles.

Pressures faced by investigative journalists include resistance from publishers, editors – due to time and resource constraints – and also post-publication and legal issues.
Pacific presentations are encouraged.

Other stories in the latest Toktok include:

* Journalism diploma, specifically for Pasifika
* Tribute to SI women - high cost in rise to the top
* PMC director calls for greater global outreach by NZ j-schools
* PMC students cover Forum
* Sabbatical 2010
* New Pacific journalism course advert

Picture: A girl breaks down in tears while telling her experiences about being abducted from her school by Maoist rebels. Photo from the PEOPLE WAR exhibition of 50 images for the investigative journalism conference. Photo by Depeendra Bajracharya

Conference website
Keynote speakers
Papers, proposals
Conference on the PMC Facebook page

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

AUT seeks Pacific journalism lecturer for new course

Pacific Media Centre

New Zealand’s AUT University is seeking a Pasifika journalist and educator to join its teaching staff.

The university’s School of Communication Studies described the new post in an advertisement today as a “challenging opportunity to lead, develop and teach the new Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism programme”.

The new staff person would also contribute to other journalism papers.

Besides core journalism skills, this diploma will also offer specialist papers in Māori and Pasifika Media Industry and Reporting the Pacific Region with both Pasifika media and mainstream media internships available.

“Applicants need a thorough knowledge of reporting and production in one or more areas of the news media,” said the advertisement.

“They are also expected to have outstanding Pacific and mainstream media experience and industry connections with strong roots and mana in the Pasifika community.”

As a minimum requirement, applicants are expected to have at least five years experience in an area of Pacific journalism and an undergraduate degree. A postgraduate qualification is preferred, but not essential.

'Significant steps'
“Recruiting a Pasifika staff person and the new course are significant steps for media diversity in Aotearoa/New Zealand,” said Pacific Media Centre director David Robie.

“Finally we have some recognition of the value of cross-cultural skills and different cultural values in the news media.

“This is in line with the changing demographics in New Zealand. We want more journalists telling their own stories from their own perspective.”

He has been one of the sponsors of the new initiative, which has followed years of lobbying by the Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) for a new Pacific Islands journalism course.

"What an exciting time for journalism education and upcoming journalists,” says New Zealand Herald Pacific Affairs reporter Vaimoana Tapaleao, an AUT communication studies graduate and winner of this year’s Qantas Junior Reporter of the Year award.

“The course will no doubt attract upcoming gems in the journalism world but most importantly help to take multicultural New Zealand into the newsroom,” says Tapaleao.

Dr Alan Cocker, head of the School of Communication Studies, says: “We teach journalism in a New Zealand and Pacific context and we have, over a number of years sought to strengthen our Pacific focus.”

School support
He cited the long-standing school support for a Pasifika communications scholarship, a partnership with the Pacific Islands Media Association, establishment of the Pacific Media Centre and research journal Pacific Journalism Review as examples of this initiative.

The one-year diploma course is not for school leavers, who will continue to enter the Bachelor of Communication Studies degree programme. Instead, it is a Level 7 programme aimed at people already in the media industry but with no qualification, or mature students with life experience wanting to make a late start in journalism.

Regional Pacific journalists and students are also welcome to apply.

AUT began teaching a Reporting the Pacific Region paper this year after a postgraduate Asia-Pacific Journalism course was established in 2007.

Many of the students' stories are published on Pacific Scoop.

John Utanga interview with Radio Australia
Taking multicultural New Zealand into the classroom

Details of the new position are on the AUT new jobs webpage. Deadline: September 15

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New contributing editor joins PMW project

Pacific Media Centre

A new contributing editor for the Pacific Media Watch project has been appointed and has taken up his role this week.

Alex Perrottet, 29, is a postgraduate student working towards a Master in Communication Studies degree at AUT University. He is also a qualified lawyer and experienced aid project organiser who has carried out considerable work in the Pacific.

From Sydney, where he worked for some years as a solicitor before moving to Auckland, Perrottet is now making a career change into media.

He has a keen interest in Pacific media and he was appointed by the Pacific Media Centre to take up this new part time role. He has carried out research into the censorship regime in Fiji and is closely following issues of media freedom.

"I'm really interested in the Pacific. Having spent a bit of time there on volunteer projects, I have come to appreciate the mix of cultures that make up the Pacific Islands," he says.

"I have a real passion for writing and was writing articles even when studying and working as a lawyer back in Sydney."

Over the past 12 years, Perrottet has been involved in aid projects in indigenous Australian communities and also in Fiji, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia – and Kenya. Next January, he will be taking a group to Samoa to help rebuild homes and church buildings in a village badly damaged by last year's tsunami.

These experiences have been "life-changing" and Perrottet enjoys connecting with new people in the Pacific, hearing their stories and enabling young volunteers from Australia, New Zealand and around the region and taste the Pacific experience.

It has also enabled him to develop a deeper understanding of some different cultures and issues important to Pacific peoples that often go unreported in the Western press.

Perrottet has wide interests ranging from politics to sport, from literature and philosophy to humour and satire, music and the performing arts.

He is interested in education and has spent a lot of time coaching and mentoring school students in debating and public speaking and wider academia. His passion for volunteering has led him to coordinate youth projects, summer camps and performances for high school students.

"I was lucky enough to have the experience of speaking to around 300,000 people in Sydney in 2008 as the master of ceremonies at World Youth Day,” he says.

“ It was certainly a quick lesson in communication.”

Perrottet succeeds Josephine Latu, who has been contributing editor for the past two years. She has now completed her masters degree.

Latu recently reported on the Pacific Islands Forum in Vanuatu for Pacific Scoop.

An Alex Perrottet report - Fiji's 'painful process' could lead to better democracy
Pacific Media Watch database on DSpace - watch for the new PMC/PMW website going live soon. The old PMC website is here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why Samoa for new media group PacMA?

By Kalafi Moala
: Pacific Media Centre

In the days immediately following the announcement of the launch of the Pacific Media Association (PacMA), the question has often been raised about why Samoa was chosen as the place to register this new organisation.

Last week on August 10, several media owners and journalists from the Pacific region met in Apia to form the new association. A new constitution was formulated and registration of an incorporated society was sought with the government of Samoa.

In addition to a new code of ethics for the organisation and its members, a set of bylaws is being currently written to guide the conduct of the affairs of the organisation.

Headed by probably the Pacific region’s most successful and experienced media owner and journalist, Samoa’s Sano Savea Malifa, the men and women that make up the organisation promise to be the embodiment of PacMA’s mission to promote and defend values of media freedom, ethics and good governance, and provide training for all media in the Pacific region.

Malifa plays a major role in the selection of Samoa as the founding ground for PacMA.

But it is more than that. Samoa hosts some of the most effective media operations in the region – be it print, broadcasting, or on-line. And these operations are not flash-in-the-pan overnight sensations.

They have paid the price in years of covering the hard yards. In the case of Malifa and his print media enterprise, he has suffered in previous years many obstacles, including countless lawsuits, physical attacks, the burning down of his press plant, and other disheartening inconveniences.

Samoa, however, has gone through its own quiet reform in so many facets of its political, economic, and social life. The result has been an environment conducive to the development of media freedom and journalistic professionalism.

The National University of Samoa is running a journalism school, and who knows what other educational development in media is ahead at this growing institution?

Free media environment
The government of Samoa has not only given the island nation comparable political and social stability, but has been largely responsible for creating a free media environment.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has himself been a staunch supporter of media freedom. Despite having been at times scrutinised by the local media, he has been a mature and responsible leader in his response.

On the evening that marked the launch of PacMA, Tuilaepa, despite a busy schedule, and another function he needed to attend, “dropped in” and congratulated the founders of PacMA, encouraged the members in its stand for media freedom, and gave a speech that welcomed the organisation.

He was especially thrilled that the new organisation was founded and will be operating out of Samoa.

It was hard to think of too many other island nations in the Pacific that can match the welcome, the hospitality, and the media freedom environment that Samoa offers.

What makes PacMA a unique media association is that it is to be primarily driven by media owners, the journalists and media practitioners who work in the industry. Too often organisations end up being run by bureaucrats whose ties to the actual professional services provided for people are no longer there.

It is time a media association is run primarily by people who are engaged in media as part of their everyday occupation.

Another major facet of the PacMA ethos that is fundamental to its formation and ongoing practice is that of independence from the aid infrastructure in the region that often results in “funding traps” in which service organisations become entangled and unable to fulfil their mission.

Obviously, there is no organisation that can survive without funding. But PacMA has chosen to be self-funded, and allow Pacific generosity to be a sustainable provider. There will be specific projects, however, from time to time, for which the organization will seek funding assistance.

The consensus at the founding meeting was: “We will not let funding dictate our vision and mission agendas.”

So be it. PacMA wants to be independent of what has become a very dangerous trend in NGO and regional organisational operations, which is a total dependence on donor funding agencies.

PacMA has its work cut out, not only in reestablishing the traditional media association roles and responsibilities in the region, but also how to wisely facilitate the new realities of emerging new media, gender driven media initiatives, and the future of our industry rooted in the growing youth media practitioners that need all the encouragement and help they can get.

Kalafi Moala, publisher and chief executive of the Nuku'alofa-based Taimi Media Network, is deputy chair of PacMA and himself a key campaigner for media freedom Pacific-style. Photo of Savea Sano Malifa, Samoa Observer.

New Pacific media body PacMA formed at Samoa meeting
PacMA website