Vanuatu student journalist launches first poetry collection and aims higher

Telstar Jimmy with her poetry book Journey of Truth at USP’s Laucala campus in Suva … now keen to help others publish. Image: Harrison Selmen/Vanuatu Daily Post

By Harrison Selmen in Suva, Fiji

Vanuatu student journalist Telstar Jimmy launched her first poetry book in Fiji last week and vows bigger plans ahead to to help boost publishing in her country.

Although it took her several years to achieve her passion, Jimmy was proud that everyone around her is enjoying the moment.

“I feel relieved that I was finally able to publish, and overjoyed that I can now be able to share my poems with others – not just in Vanuatu but in the Pacific, because friends from Solomon Islands, Fiji and Nauru have already started buying the book and giving me a lot of positive feedback on it,” she says.

Jimmy’s plan now is to find other poets in Vanuatu and promote their work in anthology collection that can give them recognition.

“I know many have the potential but they lacked the opportunity to shine and share their stories,” she says.

While on the verge of completing her Bachelor degree at the University of the South Pacific majoring in journalism and language and literature at the end of this year, the launch of her book marks a double highlight in her academic journey.


The title of the book is Journey of Truth with four chapters and 76 pages.

Oceanic views
The poems cover global issues, oceanic views of the Pacific, family values and love stories.

She says the title of the book reflects the many stories in the book depicting real life events and journeys of life.

When asked who inspired her develop her poetry and why she decided to write a book, Jimmy answers, “Grace Molisa [an acclaimed ni-Vanuatu politician, poet and campaigner for women’s equality in politics] was my big inspiration … but then she passed away so soon”.

She said one of the main reasons to publish the book is to create a resource for Vanuatu generations with the Oceania and Pacific context.

As a mother of three children and mentor for many young Vanuatu students at Laucala during her three years of study, Telstar Jimmy describes the poems as a voice for all the silenced women – especially in a male-dominated country like Vanuatu.

Many student journalists at USP have posted messages on social media to congratulate the Vanuatu journalist for her poetic talents.

“Writing was fun and easy but publishing was quiet hard,” she says, thanking her family for funding her publication in Fiji.

Never give up
Jimmy’s message to her peers is never give up in life, even if it takes many years to achieve their dream.

“Don’t neglect the potential that you have.”

She thanked her families, especially her parents, siblings, children and husband for their support.

“Not forgetting Tony Alvero and Jerome Robert for the artistic designs, my English teachers at Malapoa and literature lecturers at USP, colleagues and friends and most importantly the almighty God for the wisdom and blessings,” she says.

  • Telstar Jimmy featured in a Pacific Media Centre climate change video last year by AUT student journalists Julie Cleaver and Kendall Hutt. Asia Pacific Report has a content sharing arrangement with Vanuatu Daily Post.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Vanuatu Daily Post … latest news hot off the free press

“How your newspaper gets to you” … Vanuatu Daily Press press rolling with the day’s news. Video: VDP

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Vanuatu Daily Post, only daily newspaper in Vanuatu, and a leading champion of a free press in the South Pacific, has posted a video of its printing press in action in Port Vila.

It is a rare insight into small press publishing in the region. The video of the Seattle-manufactured Web Leader has been posted on the newspaper’s social media to inform readers.

Launched in 1993 as The Trading Post, the newspaper quickly established itself as a pioneer of freedom of press in Vanuatu and has broken practically every major news story first since its launch by English-born publisher Marc Neil-Jones.

The publisher faced enormous difficulties in the early years and was subject to deportation, jailing and assaults.

However, those days have passed on, the newspaper reports on its website and has had local Ni-Vanuatu editors since 2003.


Currently the editor is award-winning Jane Joshua, backed up by the group media director Dan McGarry.

“As Vanuatu’s largest privately owned media company, employing nearly 50 people, Trading Post Ltd has successfully moved in publishing the official tourism newspaper of the Vanuatu Tourism office called What To Do In Vanuatu and has launched a popular radio station called 96 BUZZ FM,” the paper says.

Vanuatu Daily Post is a successful and profitable newspaper and is consistently been the first choice for all advertising in Vanuatu.”

The striking Vanuatu Daily Post logo.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

John Pilger: ‘Hold the front page. The reporters are missing’

Report by Dr David Robie – Café Pacific.

John Pilger … how “fearful ‘democracies’ regress behind a media facade of narcissistic spectacle”.
Image: Media Lens

By John Pilger
Foreword to Propaganda Blitz published today.*

The death of Robert Parry earlier this year felt like a farewell to the age of the reporter. Parry was “a trailblazer for independent journalism”, wrote Seymour Hersh, with whom he shared much in common.

Hersh revealed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia, Parry exposed Iran-Contra, a drugs and gun-running conspiracy that led to the White House. In 2016, they separately produced compelling evidence that the Assad government in Syria had not used chemical weapons. They were not forgiven.

Driven from the “mainstream”, Hersh must publish his work outside the United States. Parry set up his own independent news website Consortium News, where, in a final piece following a stroke, he referred to journalism’s veneration of “approved opinions” while “unapproved evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality.”

Although journalism was always a loose extension of establishment power, something has changed in recent years. Dissent tolerated when I joined a national newspaper in Britain in the 1960s has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal capitalism moves towards a form of corporate dictatorship. This is a seismic shift, with journalists policing the new “groupthink”, as Parry called it, dispensing its myths and distractions, pursuing its enemies.

Witness the witch-hunts against refugees and immigrants, the willful abandonment by the “MeToo” zealots of our oldest freedom, presumption of innocence, the anti-Russia racism and anti-Brexit hysteria, the growing anti-China campaign and the suppression of a warning of world war.

With many if not most independent journalists barred or ejected from the “mainstream”, a corner of the Internet has become a vital source of disclosure and evidence-based analysis: true journalism. Sites such as,,,,, and are required reading for those trying to make sense of a world in which science and technology advance wondrously while political and economic life in the fearful “democracies” regress behind a media facade of narcissistic spectacle.

Remarkable Media Lens
In Britain, just one website offers consistently independent media criticism. This is the remarkable Media Lens — remarkable partly because its founders and editors as well as its only writers, David Edwards and David Cromwell, since 2001 have concentrated their gaze not on the usual suspects, the Tory press, but the paragons of reputable liberal journalism: the BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4 News.

Their method is simple. Meticulous in their research, they are respectful and polite when they ask a journalist why he or she produced such a one-sided report, or failed to disclose essential facts or promoted discredited myths.

The replies they receive are often defensive, at times abusive; some are hysterical, as if they have pushed back a screen on a protected species.

I would say Media Lens has shattered a silence about corporate journalism. Like Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in Manufacturing Consent, they represent a Fifth Estate that deconstructs and demystifies the media’s power.

What is especially interesting about them is that neither is a journalist. David Edwards was a teacher, David Cromwell is a former scientist. Yet, their understanding of the morality of journalism — a term rarely used; let’s call it true objectivity — is a bracing quality of their online Media Lens dispatches.

I think their work is heroic and I would place a copy of their just published book, Propaganda Blitz, in every journalism school that services the corporate system, as they all do.

Take the chapter, Dismantling the National Health Service, in which Edwards and Cromwell describe the critical part played by journalists in the crisis facing Britain’s pioneering health service.

‘Austerity’ construct
The NHS crisis is the product of a political and media construct known as “austerity”, with its deceitful, weasel language of “efficiency savings” (the BBC term for slashing public expenditure) and “hard choices” (the willful destruction of the premises of civilised life in modern Britain).

“Austerity” is an invention. Britain is a rich country with a debt owed by its crooked banks, not its people. The resources that would comfortably fund the National Health Service have been stolen in broad daylight by the few allowed to avoid and evade billions in taxes.

Using a vocabulary of corporate euphemisms, the publicly-funded Health Service is being deliberately run down by free market fanatics, to justify its selling-off. The Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn may appear to oppose this, but does it? The answer is very likely no. Little of any of this is alluded to in the media, let alone explained.

Edwards and Cromwell have dissected the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, whose innocuous title belies its dire consequences. Unknown to most of the population, the Act ends the legal obligation of British governments to provide universal free health care: the bedrock on which the NHS was set up following the Second World War. Private companies can now insinuate themselves into the NHS, piece by piece.

Where, asks Edwards and Cromwell, was the BBC while this momentous Bill was making its way through Parliament? With a statutory commitment to “providing a breadth of view” and to properly inform the public of “matters of public policy”, the BBC never spelt out the threat posed to one of the nation’s most cherished institutions. A BBC headline said: “Bill which gives power to GPs passes.” This was pure state propaganda.

There is a striking similarity with the BBC’s coverage of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s lawless invasion of Iraq in 2003, which left a million dead and many more dispossessed. A study by Cardiff University, Wales, found that the BBC reflected the government line “overwhelmingly” while relegating reports of civilian suffering. A Media Tenor study placed the BBC at the bottom of a league of Western broadcasters in the time they gave to opponents of the invasion. The corporation’s much-vaunted “principle” of impartiality was never a consideration.

One of the most telling chapters in Propaganda Blitz describes the smear campaigns mounted by journalists against dissenters, political mavericks and whistleblowers. The Guardian’s campaign against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is the most disturbing.

Assange abandoned
Assange, whose epic WikiLeaks disclosures brought fame, journalism prizes and largesse to The Guardian, was abandoned when he was no longer useful. He was then subjected to a vituperative – and cowardly — onslaught of a kind I have rarely known.

With not a penny going to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous”. They also disclosed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables.

With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh”.

The Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore wrote, “I bet Assange is stuffing himself full of flattened guinea pigs. He really is the most massive turd.”

Moore, who describes herself as a feminist, later complained that, after attacking Assange, she had suffered “vile abuse”. Edwards and Cromwell wrote to her: “That’s a real shame, sorry to hear that. But how would you describe calling someone ‘the most massive turd’? Vile abuse?”

Moore replied that no, she would not, adding, “I would advise you to stop being so bloody patronising.”

Her former Guardian colleague James Ball wrote, “It’s difficult to imagine what Ecuador’s London embassy smells like more than five and a half years after Julian Assange moved in.”

Slow-witted viciousness
Such slow-witted viciousness appeared in a newspaper described by its editor, Katharine Viner, as “thoughtful and progressive”.

What is the root of this vindictiveness? Is it jealousy, a perverse recognition that Assange has achieved more journalistic firsts than his snipers can claim in a lifetime? Is it that he refuses to be “one of us” and shames those who have long sold out the independence of journalism?

Journalism students should study this to understand that the source of “fake news” is not only trollism, or the likes of Fox news, or Donald Trump, but a journalism self-anointed with a false respectability: a liberal journalism that claims to challenge corrupt state power but, in reality, courts and protects it, and colludes with it. The amorality of the years of Tony Blair, whom The Guardian has failed to rehabilitate, is its echo.

“[It is] an age in which people yearn for new ideas and fresh alternatives,” wrote Katharine Viner. Her political writer Jonathan Freedland dismissed the yearning of young people who supported the modest policies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as “a form of narcissism”.

“How did this man ….,” brayed The Guardian’s Zoe Williams, “get on the ballot in the first place?” A choir of the paper’s precocious windbags joined in, thereafter queuing to fall on their blunt swords when Corbyn came close to winning the 2017 general election in spite of the media.

Complex stories are reported to a cult-like formula of bias, hearsay and omission: Brexit, Venezuela, Russia, Syria. On Syria, only the investigations of a group of independent journalists have countered this, revealing the network of Anglo-American backing of jihadists in Syria, including those related to ISIS.

Supported by a “psyops” campaign funded by the British Foreign Office and the US Agency of International Aid, the aim is to hoodwink the Western public and speed the overthrow of the government in Damascus, regardless of the medieval alternative and the risk of war with Russia.

White Helmets appendages
The Syria Campaign, set up by a New York PR agency, Purpose, funds a group known as the White Helmets, who claim falsely to be “Syria Civil Defence” and are seen uncritically on TV news and social media, apparently rescuing the victims of bombing, which they film and edit themselves, though viewers are unlikely to be told this. George Clooney is a fan.

The White Helmets are appendages to the jihadists with whom they share addresses. Their media-smart uniforms and equipment are supplied by their Western paymasters. That their exploits are not questioned by major news organisations is an indication of how deep the influence of state-backed PR now runs in the media. As Robert Fisk noted recently, no “mainstream” reporter reports Syria, from Syria.

In what is known as a hatchet job, a Guardian reporter based in San Francisco, Olivia Solon, who has never visited Syria, was allowed to smear the substantiated investigative work of journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett on the White Helmets as “propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government”.

This abuse was published without permitting a single correction, let alone a right-of-reply. The Guardian Comment page was blocked, as Edwards and Cromwell document. I saw the list of questions Solon sent to Beeley, which reads like a McCarthyite charge sheet — “Have you ever been invited to North Korea?”

So much of the mainstream has descended to this level. Subjectivism is all; slogans and outrage are proof enough. What matters is the “perception”.

When he was US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus declared what he called “a war of perception… conducted continuously using the news media”. What really mattered was not the facts but the way the story played in the United States. The undeclared enemy was, as always, an informed and critical public at home.

Nothing has changed. In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s film-maker, whose propaganda mesmerised the German public.

She told me the “messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above”, but on the “submissive void” of an uninformed public.

“Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked.

“Everyone,” she said. “Propaganda always wins, if you allow it.”

* Note from the editors of Media Lens: This is a slightly amended version of the foreword to the new Media Lens book, Propaganda Blitz – How The Corporate Media Distort Reality, published today by Pluto Press. Warm thanks to John Pilger for contributing this superb piece to our book. Republished by Café Pacific under a Creative Commons licence.

This article was first published on Café Pacific.

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Gallery: Climate change, disasters spark Indonesian-NZ research publication

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

AUT Indonesia Centre director Lester Finch and Auckland Indonesia Community representative Maman Baboe spoke strongly last night in support of Indonesian and New Zealand collaborative ventures such as the “Disasters, Cyclones and Communication” edition of Pacific Journalism Review, the first such joint media publication.

The Yoyakarta-based Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS) at the Universitas Gadjah Mada collaborated with Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre to produce this joint edition, edited by Professor David Robie and five colleagues including the evening’s MC and assistant editor Khariah Rahman and associate editor Dr Philip Cass.

The project also included research papers from the University of the South Pacific.

Photographs by PJR designer Del Abcede.

1. Book launch speaker Maman Baboe and MC/assistant editor of PJR Kharaiah Rahman at the launch. Image: Del Abcede

2. Mamam Baboe speaks about the launch of the Pacific Journalism Review edition. Image: Del Abcede

3. Dr David Robie and Khairiah Rahman – David praised the efforts of his co-editors and designer Del. Image: Del Abcede

4. Khairiah Rahman with A/Professor Tony Clear. Image: Del Abcede

5. Khairiah Rahman, AUT Indonesia Centre’s Lester Finch, Maman Baboe and Paul Janman. Image: Del Abcede

6. Dr David Robie, James Nicholson and Paul Janman. Image: Del Abcede

7. AUT Indonesia Centre’s Lester Finch and Little Island Press’s Tony Murrow. Image: Del Abcede

8. LIP’s Tony Murrow, A/Professor Tony Clear, Professor David Robie and Jim Marbrook. Image: Del Abcede

9. Designer Del Abcede discusses the PJR cover image of a floating” cemetery in Semarang, Central Java, impacted on by rising sea levels. Image: David Robie

10. Annie Cass and associate editor Dr Philip Cass. Image: Del Abcede

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Journalist turns tales of undercover Papuan reporting into love novel

Stranger than fiction … Aprila Wayar poses with her latest novel Sentuh Papua which chronicles a Dutch journalist’s undercover reporting of Papua and is based on actual events. Image: Bambang Muryanto/Jakarta Post

BOOK REVIEW: By Bambang Muryanto in Yogyakarta

A Dutch freelance journalist, Rohan (a pen name), had been interested in the political turmoil in Papua for years. In 2015, his application for a journalistic visa was denied. The 32-year-old then decided to embark on an undercover reporting assignment in the country’s easternmost province.

For 153 days, he observed the way local people lived, met with leaders of the pro-independence Free Papua Movement (OPM) in the jungle, enjoyed the beauty of Papua’s nature and met Aprila Russiana Amelia Wayar, or Emil, a local journalist who later became his girlfriend.

It was Emil who wrote about Rohan’s adventures in Papua and their love story in the novel Sentuh Papua, 1500 Miles, 153 Hari, Satu Cinta (Touch Papua, 1500 Miles, 153 Days, One Love).

In the novel, Rohan’s character said foreign media agencies in Jakarta refused to publish his report on Papua, worrying that the government would revoke the visas of their Jakarta correspondents.

Emil recently launched her 374-page novel in a discussion forum organised by the Alliance of Independent Journalists’ (AJI) Yogyakarta chapter and the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH).

Emil has been in Yogyakarta since early this year to publish the book. She chose Yogyakarta because she had spent time there as a student at Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW).


The 38-year-old author said she initially intended to write a journalistic piece that was rich in data and interviews. She used the character of Rohan to describe the lack of press freedom in Papua, human rights violations in the province and challenges to OPM’s quest for self-determination.

‘Easier to understand’
“I then chose [to write a] novel to make it easier for Papuans and Indonesians to understand the [province’s] issues,” she said.

Through the book, Emil, who used to work for independent media platform Tabloid Jubi, was determined to represent the other side of Papua’s story vis-a-vis mainstream reporting on the province, which she deemed mostly biased.

She said many journalists covering cases of human rights abuses in Papua only interviewed security personnel and neglected the victims.

“Journalists writing about Papua have to cover both sides,” she said.

However, she realised both the challenge and risks that come with reporting Papua as a journalist, as she herself often received threats and harassment while doing her job.

In her book, the characters Rohan and Amelia, who is based on herself, are chased by a group of people armed with machetes.

According to Reporters Sans Frontier’s (RSF) latest World Press Freedom Index, Indonesia ranks 124th out of 180 countries – the same position as last year.

Open access promise
The Paris-based group highlighted the restriction of media access to Papua and West Papua as a factor that has kept Southeast Asia’s largest democracy at the bottom of the list.

The condition prevails despite President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s campaign promises to open access to Papua for foreign journalists.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Press Council categorised Papua and West Papua as “medium/relatively free” in its 2017 press freedom index.

Yogyakarta-based lawyer Emmanuel Gobay said Emil’s book, despite being published as fiction, was a good reference for those who want to understand Papua from both the local and professional perspective.

“This novel reflects the state of press freedom in Papua,” he said.

The novel, which Emil wrote in eight months, is her third after Mawar Hitam Tanpa Akar (Black Rose Without Its Stem) and Dua Perempuan (Two Women), both of which told stories about social issues in Papua.

Emil was the first indigenous Papuan novelist invited to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) in Bali in 2012. She plans to write a fourth book in the Netherlands, where she is currently undergoing medical treatment for a heart condition.

Bambang Muryanto is a Jakarta Post journalist and an Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) advocate.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Coups, globalisation and tough questions for Fiji’s future

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Coups, globalisation and tough questions for Fiji’s future

Report by Dr David Robie – Café Pacific.

The General’s Goose – three decades of Fiji “coup culture”. And what now with the second
post-coup election due this year?

REVIEW: By David Robie of Café Pacific

Author Dr Robbie Robertson … challenges “misconceptions”
about the Bainimarama regime and previous coups, and asks
fundamental questions about Fiji’s future.

When Commodore (now rear admiral retired and an elected prime minister) Voreqe Bainimarama staged Fiji’s fourth “coup to end all coups” on 5 December 2006, it was widely misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented by a legion of politicians, foreign affairs officials, journalists and even some historians.

A chorus of voices continually argued for the restoration of “democracy” – not only the flawed version of democracy that had persisted in various forms since independence from colonial Britain in 1970, but specifically the arguably illegal and unconstitutional government of merchant banker Laisenia Qarase that had been installed on the coattails of the third (attempted) coup in 2000.

Yet in spite of superficial appearances, Bainimarama’s 2006 coup contrasted sharply with its predecessors.

Bainimarama attempted to dodge the mistakes made by Sitiveni Rabuka after he carried out both of Fiji’s first two coups in 1987 while retaining the structures of power.

Instead, notes New Zealand historian Robbie Robertson who lived in Fiji for many years, Bainimarama “began to transform elements of Fiji: Taukei deference to tradition, the provision of golden eggs to sustain the old [chiefly] elite, the power enjoyed by the media and judiciary, rural neglect and infrastructural inertia” (p. 314). But that wasn’t all.

[H]e brazenly navigated international hostility to his illegal regime. Then, having accepted an independent process for developing a new constitution, he rejected its outcome, fearing it threatened his hold on power and would restore much of what he had undone. (Ibid.)

Bainimarama reset electoral rules, abolished communalism in order to pull the rug from under the old chiefly elite, and provided the first non-communal foundation for voting in Fiji.

Landslide victory
Then he was voted in as legal prime minister of Fiji with an overwhelming personal majority and a landslide victory for his fledgling FijiFirst Party in September 2014. He left his critics in Australia and New Zealand floundering in his wake.

Robertson is well-qualified to write this well-timed book, The General’s Goose: Fiji’s Tale of Contemporary Misadventure, with Bainimarama due to be tested again this year with another election. He is a former history lecturer at the Suva-based regional University of the South Pacific at the time of Rabuka’s original coups (when I first met him).

He and his journalist wife Akosita Tamanisau wrote a definitive account of the 1987 events and the ousting of Dr Timoci Bavadra’s visionary and multiracial Fiji Labour Party-led government, Fiji: Shattered Coups (1988), ultimately leading to his expulsion from Fiji by the Rabuka regime. He also followed this up with Government by the Gun (2001) on the 2000 coup, and other titles.

Robertson later returned to Fiji as professor of Development Studies at USP and he has also been professor and head of Arts and Social Sciences at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, as well as holding posts at La Trobe University, the Australian National University and the University of Otago.

He has published widely on globalisation. He is thus able to bring a unique perspective on Fiji over three decades and is currently professor and dean of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.

Since 2006, Fiji has slipped steadily away from Australian and New Zealand influence, as outlined by Robertson. However, this is a state of affairs blamed by Bainimarama on Canberra and Wellington for their failed and blind policies.

Even since the 2014 election, Bainimarama has maintained a “hardline” on the Pacific’s political architecture through his Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) alternative to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus trade deal.

‘Turned their backs’
While in Brisbane for an international conference in 2015, Bainimarama took the opportunity to remind his audience that Australia and New Zealand “as traditional friends had turned their backs on Fiji”. He added:

How much sooner we might have been able to return Fiji to parliamentary rule if we hadn’t expended so much effort on simply surviving … defending the status quo in Fiji was indefensible, intellectually and morally (p. 294).

For the first time in Fiji’s history, Bainimarama steered the country closer to a “standard model of liberal democracy” and away from the British colonial and race-based legacy.

“Government still remained the familiar goose,” writes Robertson, “but this time, its golden eggs were distributed more evenly than before”. The author attributes this to “bypassing chiefly hands” for tribal land lease monies, through welfare and educational programmes no longer race-bound, and through bold rural public road, water and electrification projects.

Fiji’s cast of coup leaders. Image: Coup 4.5

Admittedly, argues Robertson, like Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara (Fiji’s prime minister at independence and later president), Rabuka and Qarase, “Bainimarama had cronies and the military continues to benefit excessively from his ascendancy”. Nevertheless, Bainimarama’s “outstanding controversial achievement remains undoubtedly his rebooting of Fiji’s operating system in 2013”.

Robertson’s scholarship is meticulous and drawn from an impressive range of sources, including his own work over more than three decades. One of the features of his latest book are his analysis of former British SAS Warrant Officer Lisoni Ligairi and the role of the First Meridian Squadron (renamed in 1999 from the “coup proof” Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit – CRWU), and the “public face” of Coup 3, businessman George Speight, now serving a life sentence in prison for treason.

His reflections on and interpretations of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Board of Inquiry (known as BoI) into the May 2000 coup are also extremely valuable. Much of this has never before been available in an annotated and tested published form, although it is available as full transcripts on the “Truth for Fiji” website.

‘Overlapping conspiracies’
As Robertson recalls, by mid-May, “there were many overlapping conspiracies afoot … Within the kava-infused wheels within wheels, coup whispers gained volume”. Ligairi’s role was pivotal but BoI put most of the blame for the coup on the RFMF for “allowing” one man so much power, especially one it considered ill-equipped to be a director and planner’ (p. 140).

The BoI testimony about the November 2000 CRWU mutiny before Bainimarama escaped with his life through a cassava patch, also fed into Robertson’s account, although he admits Colonel Jone Baledrokadroka’s ANU doctoral thesis is the best account on the topic, “Sacred King and Warrior Chief:The role of the military in Fiji politics”.

It was a bloody and confused affair, led by the once loyal [Captain Shane] Stevens, 40 CRWU soldiers, many reportedly intoxicated, seized weapons and took over the Officers Mess, Bainimarama’s office and administration complex, the national operations centre and the armoury in the early afternoon. They wanted hostages; above all they wanted Bainimarama. (p. 164)

The book is divided into four lengthy chapters plus an Introduction and Conclusion – 1. The Challenge of Inheritance about the flawed colonial legacy, 2. The Great Turning on Rabuka’s 1987 coups and the Taukei indigenous supremacy constitution, 3. Redux: The Season for Coups on Speight’s attempted (and partially successful) 2000 coup, and 4. Plus ça Change …? on Bainimarama’s political “reset”. (The Bainimarama success in outflanking his Pacific critics is perhaps best represented by his diplomatic success in co-hosting the “Pacific” global climate change summit in Bonn in 2017.)

One drawback from a journalism perspective is the less than compelling assessment of the role of the media over the period, considering the various controversies that dogged each coup, especially the Speight one when accusations were made against some journalists as having been too close to the coup makers.

One of Fiji’s best journalists and editors, arguably the outstanding investigative reporter of his era, Jo Nata, publisher of the Weekender, sided with Speight as a “media minder” and was jailed for treason.

However, while Robertson in several places acknowledges Nata’s place in Fiji as a journalist, there is no real examination of his role as journalist-turned-coup-propagandist. This ought to be a case study.

Robertson noted how Nata’s Weekender exposed “morality issues” in Rabuka’s cabinet in 1994 without naming names. The Review news and business magazine followed up with a full report in the April edition that year, naming a prominent female journalist who was sleeping with the post-coup prime minister, produced a love child and who still works for The Fiji Times today (p. 118).

Nata then promised a special issue on the 21 women Rabuka had had affairs with since stepping down from the military. However, after Police Commissioner Isikia Savua spoke to him, the issue never appeared. (A full account is in Pacific Journalism ReviewThe Review, 1994).

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (right) with his Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum … facing an
uncertain challenge for their FijiFirst Party in this year’s election. Image: PMC

NBF debacle
Elsewhere in the book is an outline of the National Bank of Fiji (NBF) debacle that erupted when an audit was leaked to the media: “In fact, the press, particularly The Fiji Times and The Review, were pivotal in exposing the scandal.” Robertson added:

The Review had earlier been threatened with deregistration over its publication of Rabuka’s affair[s] in 1994; now both papers were threatened with Malaysian-style licensing laws to ensure that they remained respectful of Pacific cultural sensitivities and did not denigrate Fijian business acumen. (p. 121)

The bank collapsed in late 1995 owing more than $220 million or nearly 9 percent of Fiji’s GDP – an example of the nepotism, corruption and poor public administration that worsened in Fiji after Rabuka’s coups.

On Coup 1, Robertson recalls how apart from Rabuka’s masked soldiers inside Parliament, “other teams fanned out across the city to seize control of telecommunication power authorities, media outlets and the Government Buildings” (p. 65).

But there is little reflective detail about Rabuka’s “seduction” of the Fiji and international journalists, or how after closing down the two daily newspapers, the neocolonial Fiji Times reopened while the original Fiji Sun opted to close down rather than publish under a military-backed regime.

About Coup 3, Robertson recalls “[Speight] was articulate and comfortable with the media – too comfortable, according to some journalists. They felt that this intimate media presence ‘aided the rebel leader’s propaganda fire … gave him political fuel’. They were not alone’ (p. 154) (see Robie, 2001).

On the introduction of the 2010 Fiji Media Industry Development Decree, which still casts a shadow over the country and is mainly responsible for the lowest Pacific “partly free” rankings in the global media freedom indexes, Robertson notes how it was “Singapore-inspired”. The decree “came out in early April 2010 for discussion and mandated that all media organisations had to be 90 percent locally owned. The implication for the News Corporation Fiji Times and for the 51 percent Australian-owned Daily Post were obvious” (p. 254).

The Fiji Times was bought by Mahendra Patel, long-standing director and owner of the Motibhai trading group. (He was later jailed for a year for “abuse of office” while chair of Post Fiji.) The Daily Post was closed down.

Facing a long history of harassment by various post-coup administrations (including a $100,000 fine in January 2009 for publishing a letter describing the judiciary as corrupt, and deportations of publishers), The Fiji Times is heading into this year’s elections facing a trial for alleged “sedition” confronting the newspaper.

In spite of my criticism of limitations on media content, The General’s Goose is an excellent book and should be mandatory background reading for any journalist covering South Pacific affairs, especially those likely to be involved in coverage of this year’s general election in Fiji.

The General’s Goose: Fiji’s Tale of Contemporary Misadventure, by Robbie Robertson. Canberra: Australian National University. 2017. 366 pages. ISBN 9781760461270. This review was first published by Asia Pacific Report.

Baledrokadroka, J. (2012). The sacred king and warrior chief: The role of the military in Fiji politics. Unpublished doctoral thesis. Canberra: Australian National University.

Robertson, R., & Sutherland, W. (2001). Government by the gun: The unfinished business of Fiji’s 2000 coup. Sydney & London: Pluto Press & Zed Books.

Robertson, R., & Tamanisau, A. (1988). Fiji: Shattered coups. Sydney: Pluto Press.

Robie, D. (2001). Coup coup land: The press and the putsch in Fiji. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 10, 149-161. See also for an extensive media coverage examination of the 1987 Rabuka coups: Robie, D. (1989). Blood on their banner: Nationalist struggles in the South Pacific. London: Zed Books; 2006 coup and 2014 elections: Robie, D. (2016). ‘Unfree and unfair’?: Media intimidation in Fiji’s 2014 elections. In Ratuva, S., & Lawson, S. (Eds.), The people have spoken: The 2014 elections in Fiji. Canberra: ANU Press.

The Review (1994). Rabuka and the reporter. Pacific Journalism Review, 1(1), 20-22.

This article was first published on Café Pacific.

Pacific Journalism Review 23(2): ‘Journalism education in Asia-Pacific

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Pacific Journalism Review 23(2): ‘Journalism education in Asia-Pacific

Pacific Journalism Review

ISBN/code: ISSN 1023-9499

Publication date: Thursday, November 30, 2017

Samoan, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu media case studies are among those featured in the latest Pacific Journalism Review just published.

Corruption in the Pacific and the media and journalism education and training are covered extensively with transcripts of presentations from the last year’s World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) conference at Auckland University of Technology.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano deploys a phenomenological study to analyse the roles and purposes of graduate journalism education in two Asian countries.
Qatari media commentator Dr Tarek Cherkaoui, author of the recently published book The News Media at War, also analyses the blockade imposed on the tiny Gulf state by the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-led cabal of Middle East nations and attempts to shut down the Doha-based digital television broadcaster Al Jazeera.

1.Vol 23 No 2 (2017): Journalism education in Asia-Pacific


EDITORIAL: Pacific media advocacy

David Robie



Samoa’s media freedom climate: ‘Shining the light’

Misa Vicky Lepou


A two-nation Asian phenomenological study: Roles and purposes of graduate journalism education through the lens of global journalism

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano


The challenges of anonymous source stories: A case study of Solomon Islands daily newspapers

Eddie T. Osifelo


Media and journalism training in Vanuatu

Dave Mandavah



Corruption in the Pacific – a threat to cultural identity

Julie Cleaver


Pacific journalism education and training – the new advocacy era

Mackenzie Smith


Special Reports

Back to the Future: Sparta, Athena, and the battle for the Arab public sphere

Tarek Cherkaoui


Articles (Unthemed)

‘There’s no media for refugees’: Information and communication in camps on the Thai-Burma border

Victoria Jack


New Zealand media camouflage political lobbying

Catherine Strong, Fran Tyler


Tanah Papua, Asia-Pacific news blind spots and citizen media: From the ‘Act of Free Choice’ betrayal to a social media revolution

David Robie


‘You can’t avoid sex and cigarettes’: How Indonesian Muslim mothers teach their children to read billboards

Hanny Savitri Hartono, Sharyn Davies, Graeme MacRae


‘What are you waiting for, Diggers?’ The ANZAC image in Commando comics

Philip Cass, Jonathan (Jack) Ford



REVIEW: A real inspiration for the next generation of NZ journalists

Louise Matthews


REVIEW: Maintaining the climate struggle

Philip Cass


REVIEW: Timely climate media strategy to empower citizens

David Robie


REVIEW: More than just a naughty boy

Philip Cass


REVIEW: Valuable overview of global journalism

James Hollings


REVIEW: Noted: Al Jazeera a classic example of soft power

Philip Cass


Report by Pacific Media Centre

How academic researchers are opening online access and ousting profiteers

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: How academic researchers are opening online access and ousting profiteers

Journalist Duncan Graham talking to IKAT co-editor Dr Vissia Ita Yulianto and Professor David Robie, editor of Pacific Journalism Review, about the academic journal publishing industry in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, last month. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

By Duncan Graham in Malang, East Java

The academic world is supposed to be a bright-lit landscape of independent research pushing back the frontiers of knowledge to benefit humanity.

Years of fingernail-flicking test tubes have paid off by finding the elixir of life. Now comes the hard stuff: telling the world through a respected international journal staffed by sceptics.

After drafting and deleting, adding and revising, the precious discovery has to undergo the ritual of peer-reviews. Only then may your wisdom arouse gasps of envy and nods of respect in the world’s labs and lecture theatres.

The goal is to score hits on the international SCOPUS database (69 million records, 36,000 titles – and rising as you read) of peer-reviewed journals. If the paper is much cited, the author’s CV and job prospects should glow.

SCOPUS is run by Dutch publisher Elsevier for profit.

It’s a tough track up the academic mountain; surely there are easier paths paved by publishers keen to help?


Indeed – but beware. The 148-year old British multidisciplinary weekly Nature calls them “predatory journals” luring naive young graduates desperate for recognition.

‘Careful checking’
“These journals say: ‘Give us your money and we’ll publish your paper’,” says Professor David Robie of New Zealand’s Auckland University of Technology. “They’ve eroded the trust and credibility of the established journals. Although easily picked by careful checking, new academics should still be wary.”

Shams have been exposed by getting journals to print gobbledygook papers by fictitious authors. One famous sting reported by Nature had a Dr Anna O Szust being offered journal space if she paid. “Oszust” is Polish for “a fraud”.

Dr Robie heads AUT’s Pacific Media Centre, which publishes the Pacific Journalism Review, now in its 23rd year. During November he was at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta, Central Java, helping his Indonesian colleagues boost their skills and lift their university’s reputation.

The quality of Indonesian learning at all levels is embarrassingly poor for a nation of 260 million spending 20 percent of its budget on education.

The international ranking systems are a dog’s breakfast, but only UGM, the University of Indonesia and the Bandung Institute of Technology just make the tail end of the Times Higher Education world’s top 1000.

There are around 3500 “universities” in Indonesia; most are private. UGM is public.

UGM has been trying to better itself by sending staff to Auckland, New Zealand, and Munich, Germany, to look at vocational education and master new teaching strategies.

Investigative journalism
Dr Robie was invited to Yogyakarta through the World Class Professor (WCP) programme, an Indonesian government initiative to raise standards by learning from the best.

Dr Robie lectured on “developing investigative journalism in the post-truth era,” researching marine disasters and climate change. He also ran workshops on managing international journals.

During a break at UGM he told Strategic Review that open access – meaning no charges made to authors and readers – was a tool to break the user-pays model.

AUT is one of several universities to start bucking the international trend to corral knowledge and muster millions. The big publishers reportedly make up to 40 percent profit – much of it from library subscriptions.

According to a report by AUT digital librarians Luqman Hayes and Shari Hearne, there are now more than 100,000 scholarly journals in the world put out by 3000 publishers; the number is rocketing so fast library budgets have been swept away in the slipstream.

In 2016, Hayes and his colleagues established Tuwhera (Māori for “be open”) to help graduates and academics liberate their work by hosting accredited and refereed journals at no cost.

The service includes training on editing, presentation and creating websites, which look modern and appealing. Tuwhera is now being offered to UGM – but Indonesian universities have to lift their game.

Language an issue
The issue is language and it’s a problem, according to Dr Vissia Ita Yulianto, researcher at UGM’s Southeast Asian Social Studies Centre (CESASS) and a co-editor of IKAT research journal. Educated in Germany she has been working with Dr Robie to develop journals and ensure they are top quality.

“We have very intelligent scholars in Indonesia but they may not be able to always meet the presentation levels required,” she said.

“In the future I hope we’ll be able to publish in Indonesian; I wish it wasn’t so, but right now we ask for papers in English.”

Bahasa Indonesia, originally trade Malay, is the official language. It was introduced to unify the archipelagic nation with more than 300 indigenous tongues. Outside Indonesia and Malaysia it is rarely heard.

English is widely taught, although not always well. Adrian Vickers, professor of Southeast Asian Studies at Sydney University, has written that “the low standard of English remains one of the biggest barriers against Indonesia being internationally competitive.

“… in academia, few lecturers, let alone students, can communicate effectively in English, meaning that writing of books and journal articles for international audiences is almost impossible.”

Though the commercial publishers still dominate there are now almost 10,000 open-access peer-reviewed journals on the internet.

“Tuwhera has enhanced global access to specialist research in ways that could not previously have happened,” says Dr Robie. “We can also learn much from Indonesia and one of the best ways is through exchange programmes.”

This article was first published in Strategic Direction and is republished with the author Duncan Graham’s permission. Graham blogs at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by

Pacific ‘cyberbullying’, PNG student protests, ‘free’ media featured in PJR

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Pacific ‘cyberbullying’, PNG student protests, ‘free’ media featured in PJR

Article by

A mini-documentary about 20 years of publication of the research journal Pacific Journalism Review, produced by AUT University screen production and television student Sasya Wreksono to mark the publishing milestone. Video: PMC on YouTube

Student protests at the University of Papua New Guinea that led to police opening fire on a peaceful crowd last year, Australian journalism training in the Solomon Islands, “cyberbullying” in Fiji, independent campus media, and Radio New Zealand International’s reporting of the Pacific are among topics featured in the latest edition of Pacific Journalism Review.

The latest edition of Pacific Journalism Review 22(2).

The journal was published online today on the new Tuwhera research platform at Auckland University of Technology with a special edition on journalism education in the Pacific.

Peer-reviewed papers have been drawn from the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) and the Pacific Media Centre Preconference and the World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC16) conference at AUT last July.

Thirteen Asia-Pacific educators and journalists were funded to attend the conferences by the recently created NZ Institute for Pacific Research, Asia New Zealand Foundation, Transparency International New Zealand and UNESCO.

The University of Auckland’s Associate Professor Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa, who opened the JERAA-PMC preconference, says in the editorial journalism is central to the public interest in the Pacific.

Dr Salesa, director of the new institute, says journalism protects culture and especially language. However, a fast-changing world is “making it difficult for journalists to keep up with the scale of some of the issues affecting the Pacific” – such as climate change.

The editorial also features his comments about the challenges to journalism educators.

Edition acting editor Dr Philip Cass writes about Wansolwara, the longest-running journalism school newspaper in the Asia-Pacific region – last year it celebrated 20 years of publishing in Fiji.

Dr Shailendra Singh and Eliki Drugunalevu assess three case studies of cyberbullying against truth-seeking student journalists in Fiji.

Managing editor Professor David Robie, on sabbatical last year, offers an analysis of the transformation of Pacific Scoop into Asia Pacific Report, the campus-based digital publication with the widest reach in the region.

Dr Alexandra Wake reports on her research into Australian post-conflict journalism training initiatives in Solomon Islands while Emily Matasororo reflects on the national university upheaval in Papua New Guinea last year climaxing in police shootings that left at least 23 people wounded.

Dr Matt Mollgaard examines the role of Radio New Zealand International as a source of information and a tool for “soft power” in the region.

Tongan publisher, broadcaster and media freedom campaigner Kalafi Moala’s closing address at WJEC rounds off the Pacific section.

PJR also features a major research report on the state of New Zealand journalism, conducted as part of the Worlds of Journalism Study; a Frontline “journalism as research” report on indigenous collaboration in Western Australia; capstone units; a NZ mayoral celebrity scandal; and covering police corruption in Indonesia.

Other WJEC Asia-Pacific papers will be published in two future editions of PJR later this year.

PJR table of contents