Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two PMC journalists to cover 2010 Forum

Pacific Media Centre

The Pacific Media Centre has been successful in gaining a grant from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to cover costs of assigning two postgraduate journalists to cover the Pacific Islands Forum meetings in Port Vila, Vanuatu, next week.

Josephine Latu and Tupouseini Taumoepeau are leaving for Port Vila on Sunday to cover the week's meetings.

Over the past two years, the PMC has hosted two visits from MFAT officials. The feedback from MFAT has been positive where it has identified the PMC's purpose and achievement in supporting academic research on Pacific regional affairs and media issues.

It has acknowledged the PMC as a university-based centre that aids the professional development of students and academics, and that the PMC also seeks to support the development of the media industry across the wider Pacific.

While in Port Vila, Latu (pictured, right) and Taumoepeau (left) will provide reports on the Smaller Islands States meetings, the Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit meetings and the post-forum dialogue bilateral talks.

Their reports and analysis will be filed to the PMC in Auckland and their news reports will be published on Pacific Scoop website and will also be made available to other Pacific-based media.

While most New Zealand journalists assigned to cover the forum will be representative of the New Zealand Parliamentary Press Gallery and travel with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, the PMC's two journalists will angle their reports from within a Pacific-wide public interest prism.

Pacific Scoop reportage

Friday, July 30, 2010

French student on Pacific Scoop, PMC internship

Pacific Media Centre

The Pacific Media Centre has provided an internship base for Virginie Ribadeau Dumas, a French postgraduate student from the University of Rennes, who is completing a political science/journalism major.

Dumas’ internship will be in two parts. From July 12 to July 30, 2010, she has been based at the PMC at AUT University. From August 1 to mid-September she will be based at Scoop Media's offices in Wellington.

The PMC and Scoop Media are co-publishers of Pacific Scoop, a new independent media "hub" launched last August.

During her internship, Dumas is being assigned to research French Pacific issues and New Zealand parliamentary politics and current political events.

She is being mentored by the project's Asia-Pacific editor Selwyn Manning. The results of her research will be expressed through reportage and analysis, and published on Pacific Scoop. Dumas writes:

My name is Virginie, and I’m from Paris. I study in Rennes, in the western part of France, at the Political Sciences Institute. My majors are foreign affairs and journalism/communication.

My goal is to specialise in culture and/or Asian affairs.
Internships and experience abroad lie at the heart of my school curriculum. One exchange year is required to graduate, as well as minimum of two-month work experience, preferably abroad.

I had been in Asia a few times already and felt a deep interest in the region, that’s why I chose Hong Kong for my exchange year in 2008-2009.

There I studied social sciences, humanities and Asian studies, and started learning Mandarin.
I took advantage of my location in Asia to explore furthermore the continent, visiting China, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

As for my work experience, immediately after my exchange year, I applied for an internship at the French Embassy Press Department in Wellington. I worked there for three months, covering French issues, screening New Zealand newspapers and managing the embassy’s website.

With this internship, I hope to acquire a better understanding of foreign affairs by getting an idea of what's behind the scene.

Back in France in September 2009, I went back to school for my first year in a Masters in Journalism and Communication.

During this year, I have worked in a joint venture between my university and
l’Express, a French weekly news magazine, first as an editor then as communication manager for a special release on the city of Rennes.

Before starting a new school year, my second masters year, I felt I needed more work experience. Which is why I applied for an internship at Scoop.

The first part of my task here is to cover French Polynesia and New Caledonia issues for Pacific Scoop, as most of the news is in French, but still of high interest for New Zealand and the region.

Down at Scoop headquarters in Wellington, I will be covering parliamentary issues at Scoop headquarters, while I’ll keep on screening French Pacific issues for Pacific Scoop.

French Pacific current affairs roundup

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Journalism diploma, specifically for Pasifika

Pacific Media Centre

A new one-year Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism is being offered to fulfil needs in New Zealand's increasingly diverse media environment at AUT University's School of Communication Studies.

Next year is the inaugural year for AUT's new Pacific graduate diploma, a programme spearheaded by Pacific Media Centre director Dr David Robie.

The development of the course follows a global trend towards specialist journalism courses and calls from the Pacific Island Media Association. There is an increasing demand for both more journalists in the growing Pasifika media industry and highly-skilled cross-cultural journalists for the mainstream, says Dr Robie.

This is a logical outcome of the demographic changes in New Zealand, and particularly Auckland.

The diploma targets Pasifika people who wish to enter journalism from another career, journalists and students from around the Pacific region seeking a New Zealand qualification, and Pasifika people already in the media wanting to upgrade their skills with a qualification.

Students will study papers within the Bachelor of Communication Studies in Journalism, as well as value-added Pasifika media papers and other electives that reflect particular interests in the Asia-Pacific region. The core papers include a media industry internship and optional study
of a Pacific language.

Reporting boost
"This new course will be a boost for regional Pacific reporting and will also contribute to a higher Pasifika community profile in the New Zealand media," says Dr Robie. "We hope journalists on this programme will push the boundaries of Pacific reporting in a challenging way."

Tagata Pasifika producer John Utanga says while many Pacific students pass through communications programmes around the country, most do not choose to major in journalism.

“In the current era there is so much more choice, but we know that while some students do the journo component, not enough do,” says Utanga, who is also current chair of AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.

“The bottom line is fewer people have chosen that option over the last few years – hence the reason for getting a Pacific-focused journalism course up and running,” he says.

An appointment of a Pasifika journalist by the School of Communication Studies is expected soon to run this programme. - Margo White

More about the course
AUT offers Pacific qualification - Samoa Observer
Human Rights Commission story
Enrolment information

Friday, July 16, 2010

PMC director calls for greater global outreach by NZ j-schools

Pacific Media Centre

New Zealand journalism schools need to be far more internationally minded and think outside the parochial square, says Pacific Media Centre director David Robie.

Just back from a six-week sabbatical trip to several Asian countries and Europe, Dr Robie says many New Zealand journalism graduates are doing well in countries such as China while pursuing an international career.

The PMC at AUT University has promoted a postgraduate internship programme with support from the Asia New Zealand Foundation for the past seven years and several graduates have used this as a springboard for a global career.

“New Zealand’s future lies in the Asia-Pacific region with an emphasis on Asia, especially China, our second largest trading partner,” he says. “Journalism courses here need to reflect that.

“Long gone are the days when journalism graduates saw the New Zealand media as their sole job market.”

AUT’s School of Communication Studies launched New Zealand’s first Asia-Pacific or international journalism paper in 2007 and Associate Professor Robie teaches the course.

During his sabbatical trip, Dr Robie visited the Communications University of China with AUT’s international relations director Chris Hawley; China Daily, the major state-run English newspaper and website where AUT graduates go on regular internships as foreign “experts” for copy polishing; a leading Hongkong university-based journalism school; Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) in Singapore; Airlangga University’s communications school and the Jawa Pos news media network headquarters in Surabaya, Indonesia; Reporters San Frontières media freedom group in Paris; and the International Herald Tribune’s Asian bureau in Hongkong among other media and educational centres.

Internship strategy
In Beijing, he had discussions with the China Daily management about a strategy to boost AUT’s exchange scheme and improvements for the internship scheme.

He also met current intern Michele Ong and a former intern, Guanny Liu, who now works with a Beijing-based international radio station.

“The internship changed my life,” said Liu, who had been working for Radio New Zealand and worked on a China Daily internship after graduation before landing the Beijing job.

Both Ong and Liu speak Mandarin. Ong has just returned from a Shanghai Expo assignment and a travel reporting mission in Anhui province.

In Surabaya, Dr Robie gave a lecture to Airlangga media students about Asia-Pacific press freedom and comparisons between micro-island states and the Indonesian news industry environment.

Airlangaa postgraduate students have studied at AUT and a closer relationship between the two universities is being developed.

In Paris, Dr Robie met with Reporters Sans Frontières Asia-Pacific researcher Vincent Brossel and discussed plans for stronger South Pacific collaboration with the Pacific Media Centre, which operates the regional media monitoring project Pacific Media Watch and the news website Pacific Scoop.

Pictures: Top to bottom. Airlangga students in Surabaya, Indonesia, welcome David Robie; Michele Ong at the China Daily video newsreading desk; Beijing dinner - left to right (back): Michele Ong, Guanny Liu, Del Abcede and Bridgid Hawley, front: David Robie, "chairman" Chris Hawley and Ollie Fenwick-Ross; China Daily's 29th anniversary celebrations; a news conference at the China Daily; and David Robie with Jawa Pos editor Leak Kustiya. Photos: David Robie

Internship journo discovers the essence of China

By Michele Ong in Beijing: Pacific Media Centre

It was in Anhui that I both truly experienced and saw China.

Anhui province, with its stunning Huangshan mountain and beautiful old towns, was what I pictured China to be based on the movies I've watched and the books I've read.

I first glimpsed Huangshan Mountain at the photo exhibition put out by respected artist Wang Wusheng at the opening ceremony of “Memorable Tourism Anhui”. I was captivated by the mountain’s beauty the moment I saw the pictures.

By the end of the day, I was burning with curiosity at what Huangshan mountain really looked like in real life.

I visited Huangshan on my first day in Anhui. Truth be told, I was completely exhausted from my seven-hour bus journey the night before from Shanghai to Anhui and would happily trade climbing up Huangshan mountain if I could lie in bed a little longer.

Alas! We were to get up at 7am and be ready for the long day ahead by 8am.

On our way up to the mountain, we were given a brief introduction by our tour guide, Jeff, on Huangshan.

The mountain got its name from an emperor from the Qing Dynasty who spent his time studying the art of becoming a fairy.

Emperor's peak
After much persistence, he eventually attained fairydom. The local villagers, out of respect for their emperor, named the mountain Huangshan. Jeff then explained that “Huang di” means “emperor” in Mandarin. Huangshan Mountain loosely translates to Yellow Mountain.

I found climbing Huangshan mountain no means an easy feat. With every step I took, I felt like there was a ball chain attached to my ankles. Yet before me lay a series of never ending steps, beckoning me to climb further up, enticing me every step of the way with its lush greenery.

I felt pretty embarrassed with myself for complaining about sore calf muscles when I saw several men, strong as ox, balancing either a ton of bricks or sacks of food on their shoulders, hiking steadfastly up the mountain. All I had on me was a small satchel containing a bottle of water, a packet of crisps and an umbrella. Yet there I am griping about my sore legs.

By the time I reached its highest peak, Lotus Peak, I wasn’t sure if my legs were still with me. The last time I did any exercise was when I was still in New Zealand—I swam once a week. But ever since I came to China, all I did was eat 24/7 a day and did minimal exercise.

Despite complaining and huffing and puffing while making my way up the mountain, I had to say I had no regrets. I would’ve regretted it more if I gave up half way and made my way back to the cable car.

The mountain with its beautiful greenery and thousands of years old pine trees, growing gracefully between majestic rocks, were breathtaking.

The mountain air was both cool and refreshing.

Praying for blessings
Low lying clouds enveloped the mountain's peaks and trees, lending a calm and serene atmosphere. I could feel my earthly worries slowly disappearing as I stood in awe of the beauty before me. Little wonder its local tour brochure boasts its mountains as "the best places to go when praying for blessings".

Along my way up the mountain, I took the chance to slowly admire flowers and trees which grew in abundance. Whenever I’d start feeling a little bit tired from the climb, I’d rest a little while by the streams and watch crystal clear water gush over smooth brown rocks. There were times I wish I could set camp there. Then I’d get to admire its scenery all day long.

I wasn’t the only one who thought Huangshan mountain a beauty. Another visitor I spoke to, Andee Flueck, a Swiss working in Germany, said he found the mountain "mystical”.

An Italian tourist, Arianna Padella, told me that unless one moved outside from the city, one would never be able to appreciate what the country is like. I couldn’t have agreed more with both of them.

I’m currently working in Beijing and as much as I love the city for its tall modern buildings and vibrant nightlife, it still wasn’t really the China I was hoping to experience.

But now I could safely say I have truly experienced the essence of China in Anhui.

Michele Ong is an AUT University graduate journalist on an AUT and Pacific Media Centre internship with the China Daily in Beijing with airfare support from the Asia New Zealand Foundation. This story was first published on the China Daily travel website.

Other Michele Ong stories:
Ancient villages in Anhui
NZ's gaokao exams

Monday, July 12, 2010

TVNZ helps bring colour to newsrooms through diversity scholarships

By Thakur Ranjit Singh: Pacific Media Centre

Alisha Lewis, winner of this year's TVNZ Journalism Diversity Scholarship at AUT University’s journalism school, sees a positive future for cultural minorities in the Nerw Zealand news media. She is grateful for the award which has allowed her to pursue her dreams and ambition to enter a journalism career.

“I always loved writing and was interested in journalism. While at Epsom Girls High School, I was a literary leader, organised literary events and started the school newspaper there. I had a class in writing for publication in transactional and creative writing. I had interest in both the forms and had entered competitions. Once I took this course, this fuelled my passion for journalism," Lewis said.

Lewis’s passion may not have been realised had it not been for the TVNZ Diversity Scholarship. She was getting ready to be enrolled at another university for a Bachelor of Arts course when she was called for the scholarship interview and offered the award. She is now pursuing a Bachelor in Communication Studies degree at AUT.

Her origin is India. Her parents originate from Mangalore in the state of Karnataka in India. She was born in India’s business and commercial capital Mumbai and moved with her parents to Auckland in 1995 at the age of four.

Her father is an engineer and her mother is a school counsellor. The only other sibling, a sister, has finished a law degree at Auckland University and is an intern for four months at the New Zealand diplomatic mission in New York.

Having lived in Hamilton, Napier and Auckland and undertaken primary and secondary education in New Zealand makes her well exposed to the Kiwi way of life. A very energetic, enthusiastic and motivated lass, she still regards herself as an Indian – a Kiwi Indian.

Literary activity
With a very supportive family which encourages here to work within her strength of literary activities, she equally enjoys her studies at AUT.

“I am loving my course. There is a paper called media ethics, we discuss Western news values and how stories and issues about developing nations are never deemed newsworthy, and how there is stereotyping within media,” she added.

On the concern about lack of interest by ethnic minorities in general and Indians in particular in journalism studies, she added that: “This is partly due to ingraining we have within our culture that it is a tough career choice, it is not very stable and it is not easy to get a job as a journalist, so people tend to go for more dependable degrees than journalism. May be, that is something we need to work within our cultures.”

She noted that the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders in journalism courses at AUT was increasing, and there was good hope for diversity. But she is disappointed at the fewer number of Indians pursuing studies in journalism.

Lewis believes TVNZ has added considerably in the quest for encouraging journalism among minorities. Two previous recipients of this award include Chinese Kiwi and Maori students.

“This scholarship is great because in the New Zealand mainstream media in general there needs to be huge increase in intakes of ethnic journalism students and reporters. It is a great step that TVNZ is taking by having specific diversity scholarship. There is huge room for improvement,” Alisha told the Pacific Media Centre.

Intern breaks
As a condition of her scholarship, she has to work as an intern at TVNZ during university breaks, and she enjoys every minute of it. She is very ambitious of going further in her chosen profession and her country of birth would certainly play a part in it.

“I would love to be a foreign correspondent and would love to work in India for an attachment. India is not projected properly in media; my Kiwi friends still feel that India is backward. I was there recently and saw huge developments since I was last there when I was 10. I saw huge developments and there are substantial changes. In so many ways, it is more advanced than New Zealand. Not necessarily backwards, but they do not really know how much India has progressed, that is what people in developed world fail to realise – that India will soon be one of the main powers of the world,” she added.

Lewis believes she would be able to make a difference as a journalist and is thankful to TVNZ for this opportunity. She has called on other media organisations to step up and start encouraging diversity and offer opportunities like TVNZ has offered to minority ethnicities to gain experience and start working in their respective organisations.

Thakur Ranjit Singh is a postgraduate student in Communication Studies at AUT writing for the Pacific Media Centre.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Media kingpins start new group after divisive PINA resignation

By Josephine Latu, Pacific Media Watch

A group of established media veterans have formed a new group – the Pacific Media Association (PMA) – after this week’s resignation announcement by former vice president of the main regional body, the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) John Woods.

The new media organization includes as key members Samoa Observer founder Savea Sano Malifa, Vanuatu Daily Post editor Marc Neil-Jones, former Fiji Sun publisher now an editor at the Samoa Observer Russell Hunter, Taimi Media Network CEO Kalafi Moala, and Cook Islands News editor John Woods, among others.

Moala said the plan was to support independent media while avoiding organisational bureaucracy, and unlike PINA, the PMA it would be open to members from Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s been long overdue to have an ‘industry driven’ media association in the Pacific whose core values include press freedom and the united and co-ordinated effort to lift Pacific media to a high level of journalistic performance. Our independence is vital if we are going to fulfil our professional duties to our region,” Moala told Pacific Scoop.

Woods resigned earlier this week over alleged lack of transparency and maladministration in PINA, as well as the lack of action over Fiji’s media controls.

“Today’s media freedom situation in Fiji… is totally intolerable. A body like PINA should have led the outrage 24 hours ago. I am ashamed that we have reneged on our constitutional obligation to oppose censorship and media controls in Fiji,” he stated in his letter of resignation, circulated on the Pacific Islands Journalists Online network.

In response, PINA president Moses Stevens told Radio New Zealand that the organisation stood by its approach, stating: “Fiji is not a normal democratic government… It’s a military regime and we cannot deal with the situation as we would deal with a normal democratically elected government.”

PINA is currently based in Fiji, where the media has been heavily censored by the military regime in power.

Lisa Williams Lahari, founder of the Pacific WAVE network, said she was “sad but not surprised” at the recent PINA developments.

“This week’s crisis proves the point that we need to get regional media in order,” she told Pacific Scoop.

“I want an association that’s different from PINA. Anyone who as observed the repeated calls for transparency would know it’s a confirmation there’s a lot of trouble,” she said.

Lahari called for a new approach to regional media in forming alliances with new Pacific advocacy groups and media networks that have formed in the past few years.

She said her organisations, Pacific WAVE network and the Pacific Freedom Forum group, were ready to sign on to the PMA.

It is yet uncertain where in the Pacific the new organisation will be based, although Samoa has been suggested due to its air links and media environment.

Photo: Taimi Media Network CEO and publisher of the Taimi 'o Tonga newspaper Kalafi Moala is one of the founders of the new Pacific Media Association.