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