Journalism education at USP – a 30-year struggle for free press

By Shailendra Singh in Suva

The University of the South Pacific’s recent 50th anniversary marked 30 years of existence for its regional journalism programme. In an eventful journey, the programme weathered military coups, overcame financial hardships and shrugged off academic snobbery to get this far.

The programme started in Suva in 1988, with Commonwealth funding, and a handful of students to its name. It has produced more than 200 graduates serving the Pacific and beyond in various media and communication roles.

USP journalism graduates have produced award-winning journalism, started their own media companies and localised various positions at regional organisations once reserved for expatriates.

READ MORE: Fiji Report – a day in the life of Wansolwara newspaper

The beginning was hardly auspicious: founding coordinator, the late Australian-based Kiwi academic Murray Masterton, recalled that from the outset, some USP academics felt that journalism was a vocational course with no place in a university.

A University for the Pacific. Image: USP

Such disdain turned out to be the least of Dr Masterton’s problems: plans to offer certificate-level courses in 1987 were almost derailed by Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka’s pro-indigenous coups.

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Masterton persevered in the face of this political earthquake – the South Pacific’s first military takeover of a nation – and after some delays, he got the programme off the ground. It was a significant development in a region where journalists had little opportunity to attain formal qualifications.

And it was not without irony – the Pacific’s first regional journalism programme, a symbol of media freedom, introduced in a climate of great media repression in Fiji.

Another cloud
Just years after establishing its position, the programme’s future came under another cloud when Commonwealth sponsorship ran out. An injection of French government funds in 1993 provided a new lease of life, with the programme upgraded to a BA double-major degree.

The three-year grant was supervised by Francois Turmel, former BBC World Service editor in London. During those lean years, Turmel often dug into his pockets to fund some activities.
When French funding ended in 1996, USP took over the programme, appointing another Kiwi coordinator in David Robie, a former international journalist, then head of the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) journalism programme.

During his term from 1998–2002, Robie made major curriculum changes by integrating the student training newspaper, Wansolwara, into the assessment and introducing professional work attachments with news media organisations.

He was also the first journalism educator to gain a PhD (from USP) in New Zealand and the Pacific, returning to Suva to graduate in 2003 in history/politics. He tells the story of the early decades of Pacific journalism education in his 2004 book Mekim Nius: South Pacific media, politics and education.

In 2001, I joined the USP journalism programme as the first full-time local assistant lecturer. I was already a Fiji and Pacific news media professional and I went on to become the first local to head the journalism programme.

After graduating with my PhD from the University of Queensland in 2016, I would become the first local PhD to teach journalism at USP. I saw to the expansion of the programme with a boost in enrolments and improved facilities to cater for the new demand, including the recruitment of two local teaching assistants.

Under my watch, Wansolwara continued to win major awards for excellence in journalism.

Recruitment of locals
The recruitment of locals was an important step in building local capacity to carry out teaching and research and provide support for Wansolwara.

The newspaper, founded in 1996 by lecturer Philip Cass, an Aussie, and a number of students, became well-established as the programme’s flagship publication. Wansolwara literally means “one ocean one people.” For founding student editor Stanley Simpson, the paper was a creation of young minds who “wanted to do things their way”.

Student training newspapers are regarded as important strategic assets, and Wansolwara has certainly played crucial roles at crucial times. The paper came to prominence for its coverage of the May 2000 nationalist coup, and the ensuing hostage crisis in Parliament, when the deposed Chaudhry government was held in captivity for 56 days.

Professor Robie has described the 2000 coup coverage as “one of the most challenging” examples of campus-based journalism. The students’ reporting put the overseas parachute journalists to shame, as recounted by Dr Cass: “Much of the outside coverage seemed to be done by people who were just taking the plotters’ statements at face value or else were writing their reports beside the swimming pool at the Travelodge, so the students were giving an alternative view that in many cases was much closer to what was going on.”

Not everyone appreciated the coup coverage. Certain USP academics concerned about security felt that student journalists should practice “simulated journalism”. The smashing-up of the nearby Fiji Television studios by rampaging coup supporters was the last straw for USP, which shut down the Wansolwara news website called Pacific Journalism Online.

However, Dr Robie was able to arrange for a “mirror” site at the Sydney University of Technology to allow the coverage to continue. Wansolwara won the Journalism Education Association of Australia “best publication” in the region award for its efforts.

It was one in a long line of journalism association, as well as regional and Fiji national, awards for excellence in journalism. Such honours, along with a healthy research output, has long since silenced jibes about USP journalism’s fitness as an academic course.

Under the radar
In the post-2006 Voreqe Bainimarama coup years, as media restrictions tightened, Wansolwara, as a student newspaper, was able to remain under the radar and operate more freely than the mainstream media.

Student reporting in the face of risks was exemplary. The April 2009 issue, which included a four-page critique of the coup, was still at press when the punitive Public Emergency Regulations were introduced.

The Solomon Islands student editor at the time, Leni Dalavera, phoned me in the dead of night, concerned that the students risked arrest. Delavera was assured that the authorities were highly unlikely to move against the students, and that the lecturers were responsible for the publication.

The thrills-frills of coup coverage aside, student journalists are also challenged in major ways during the so-called regular beats. A 2016 Pacific Journalism Review journal article by Singh and Eliki Drugunalevu, examined how USP student journalists deal with backlash from peers offended by their coverage.

This article shows how USP’s journalism students changed their initial feelings of fear, hurt and self-doubt to a sense of pride and accomplishment. Students felt they developed resilience, fortitude and a deeper understanding of the watchdog journalism ethos – learning outcomes which would not have been achievable through classroom teaching alone.

This reinforces the idea that students should not be cocooned, or made to practice ‘simulated journalism’, since they learn from dealing with confronting situations, a reality in journalism.

Students like Simpson, who bagged a string of national and regional awards as a professional, cut his teeth as a Wansolwara reporter.

Crucial role
The achievements of staff and students, the unique research undertaken by the programme into regional media issues – which feeds back into teaching – and journalism’s crucial role in the region, have cemented the programme’s position at USP.

In an interview in the November 2016 edition of Wansolwara, USP vice-chancellor and president, Professor Rajesh Chandra, pledged that journalism would remain part of the university’s future.

Chandra, who had strongly supported the establishment of journalism at USP, stated that good journalism was critical for an open and truly democratic society and USP’s role in training good journalists was crucial.

Professor Chandra’s comments underscore not just the journalism programme’s important role at USP, but its contribution to the region as a whole. Such vindication is welcome news for all those who fought for the programme and contributed to its development.

Dr Shailendra Singh is coordinator of USP’s journalism programme. This article was first published as a chapter in the recent book, A University for the Pacific: 50 Years of USP, edited by Jacqueline Leckie. It is republished here with the permission of the author, editor and USP.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

World must take moral climate stand for humanity, warns Pacific expert

Authors of the current IPCC reporting cycle in Fiji – Dr Helene Jacot Des Combe (from left), Dr Morgan Wairiu, Professor Elisabeth Holland and Diana Salili. Image: USP/Wansolwara

By Jope Tarai in Suva

The threat of rising global temperatures on Pacific ecosystems is not only a scientific analysis but a reality for many people in the region, with a Pacific climate change expert warning that the current aggregate emissions reductions by countries are inadequate.

Dr Morgan Wairiu, deputy director at USP’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, said the Pacific would effectively lose its ecosystems and resources at current emission levels, which indicate the possibility of the global temperature rising beyond 1.5C to 3.7C.

“The world needs to take a moral stand, this is a humanity issue, more than science, the economy or anything else,” he said, highlighting the need for greater action and urgency on climate change.

READ MORE: Strongest climate solutions ‘developed together’

“The Pacific’s natural and human systems would face greater devastation if the global average temperature rises above 1.5C.”

He warned the Pacific that the parties in the Conference of Parties (COP) were not on track to keep global average temperatures below 1.5C

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The Fiji-based Dr Wairiu knows all too well the dangers of climate change, spending more than 25 years championing change and assisting countries in keeping the global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This possibility cuts at the heart of Dr Wairui’s early formative years, growing up in his village and his boarding school supported by the lush and rich vegetation in Guadalcanal.

Pacific survival
“These ecosystems, which support the survival of Pacific people, are under threat. I remember spending long hours outdoors exploring and enjoying the village surrounding,” he said.

“In boarding school, we learnt resilience and self-sufficiency by tending to food gardens and fishing for seafood.”

Dr Wairiu, who hails from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, was recently one of the lead authors in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5C special report, which assessed what had been done so far and the feasibility of keeping the global average temperature below 1.5C.

This year he has been selected as the co-ordinating lead author for the “Small Islands” chapter in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6). The IPCC releases the assessment reports every five years, with the most recent one (IPCC AR5) released in 2014.

Dr Wairiu will be co-ordinating and guiding a number of authors within the “Small Islands” chapter of the sixth assessment report.

Dr Wairiu graduated from the University of Papua New Guinea in agriculture and returned to the Solomon Islands to serve his people in the research division at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

His work focused on soil and plant growth. This proved crucial for Dr Wairiu because of the Solomon Islands’ logging industry, which coincided with his cultivated plant growth work.

Completed studies
Later, he secured a scholarship to complete his postgraduate studies at the University of London in the UK. He also completed a Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland before returning to his home country.

Dr Wairiu then moved to Ohio State University in the US to pursue his PhD and at that stage he was examining soil carbon dynamics. Completing his PhD, he returned to his village during the tensions of the early 2000s.

Shortly afterwards, he was called by the Solomon Islands government to take up the role of permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

Dr Wairiu joined the Waikato University as a visiting research fellow before moving to the University of The South Pacific. His progression and years of experience has culminated in his current work on climate change.

Jope Tarai is an emerging indigenous Fijian scholar, based at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, University of the South Pacific. His research interests include, Pacific regionalism, Pacific politics and digital ethnography. This article was first published by Wansolwara.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific ‘smart’ thinking grows creative tension between policy and research

ANALYSIS: By Professor Derrick Armstrong

A traditional view of the tension between research and policy suggests that researchers are poor at communicating their research findings to policy-makers in clear and unambiguous ways.

I am arguing that this is an outdated view of the relationship between research and policy. Science, including social science, and policy come together in many interesting and creative ways.

This does not mean that tensions between the two are dissolved but the conversation between research and policy centre as much on ideological and pragmatic issues as it does upon the strength of the scientific evidence itself.

READ MORE: The DevNet 2018 conference

Researchers are increasingly “smart” in the ways that they seek to influence public debate while policy-makers genuinely value the insights that research can provide in supporting political and policy agendas that goes beyond simply legitimating pre-existing policy choices.

For example, in climate change debates science cannot be seen simply as an arbiter of “truth” that informs policy and political decision-making. Science also plays an advocacy role in alliance with some social interests against others.

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Likewise, policy can draw on science but it can also reject the evidence of science where scientific evidence is weighed against the interests of other powerful voices in the policy-process.

Oceans research and policy provides a good example of this more sophisticated relationship between science and policy and suggests some of the significant disconnects and tensions that challenge the relationship as well as how creative tensions between the two operate in practice. Three areas of disconnect can be identified.

Practical disconnection
The first of these is practical disconnection of regulation with regard to the Oceans. An integrated legal framework for the ocean might be considered critical for progress towards meeting the objectives of SDG 14 (Life under the Sea) but complexity and fragmentation present many challenges which are both sectorial and geographical.

National laws lack coordination across different ocean-related productive sectors, conservation, and areas of human wellbeing. In addition, these laws are disconnected from the regulation of land-based activities that negatively impact upon the ocean – agriculture, industrial production and waste management (including ocean plastic).

“These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.” Image: David Robie/PMC

These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.

Disconnected science is itself a problem in this area. Ocean science is still weak in most countries due to limited holistic approaches for understanding cumulative impacts of various threats to ocean health such as climate change, pollution, coastal erosion and overfishing.

Equally, scientific understanding of the effectiveness of conservation and management responses is poor, so that the productivity limits and recovery time of ecosystems cannot be easily predicted.

Even when science is making progress, effective science-policy interfaces are often poorly articulated at all levels. As a result, there are significant barriers to effectively measuring progress in reaching SDG14.

Oceans research policies rare
National oceans research policies to support sustainable development are rare. This is compounded by limited understanding of the role of different knowledge systems, notably the traditional knowledge of indigenous people.

Third, there is a disconnected dialogue. Key stakeholders, most notably the communities most dependent on ocean health, are not sufficiently involved in developing and implementing ocean management; yet, they are most disproportionately affected by their negative consequences.

More positively, there are some good examples of effective science-policy diplomacy collaborations and networks. For example, in the Pacific my own university (University of the South Pacific) has worked very effectively to support Pacific island countries, especially Fiji, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, to successfully lead arguments at the International Maritime Organisation for international commitments to reduced carbon emission targets for shipping.

Technical, scientific support has been critical to support the advocacy of Pacific leaders and their ability to mobilise wider political support.

Building the capacity to achieve such outcomes within the regions of the world that confront these problems most sharply is a significant challenge. Aid policy can play an Important role in this respect – for example, by supporting capacity building through investment in local institutions such as universities rather than funnelling aid money back into donor countries through consultancies.

The scientific dominance of the global north is every bit as disempowering and threatening as post-colonial political domination.

For countries in the developing world, capacity building in research is critical to supporting their own countries. Another good example of this is found in the High Ambition Pacific coalition led by the Marshall Islands which secured significant support from European countries and elsewhere, in their campaign for a 1.5 degrees emissions target at the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015.

Science-policy-advocacy alliance
This coalition was a good example of a science-policy-advocacy alliance which did not come from the global north.

Scientific as well as policy collaborations between the global south and the global north are certainly possible but it also the case that scientific research and intervention in the countries of the south from the outside can very easily reinforce the political domination that politicians and policy-makers from the south so often experience in international forums and through the aid policies bestowed upon them from outside.

The aggressive assertion of the privileges of Western science to do research in developing countries at the expense of building local capacity demonstrates another side of this post-colonial experience. It is impossible to credibly talk of “giving voice to the ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘vulnerable’” where the research practices of outside researchers and their institutions cripple the ability of local researchers to speak.

Yet, researchers in the Pacific are more effectively operating at the cutting-edge of the science-policy interface than many outside the region may understand or recognise.

In our own case at USP, genuine collaboration across the boundaries of south and north have been possible but just as our leaders and our communities have had to fight against patronising notions of “vulnerability” our scientific need is to build our own capacity to effectively engage with the priorities of our own region and its people. We aim to build a scientific and research capacity that is neither dominated by or exploited from outside.

So, in summary, the tensions that have traditionally been used to characterise the science-policy interface greatly oversimplify the reality. They oversimplify it at an abstract level by whether by characterising science as disinterested or by characterising the aim of policy-makers to rational and evidence-based.

They also oversimplify the relationships within and between scientific communities, ignoring the social interests and power structures that serve the continuation, whether intentionally or not, of post-colonial domination, restricting opportunities to build scientific capacity which enables the achievement of locally determined priorities.

Professor Derrick Armstrong is deputy vice-chancellor (research, innovation and international) at the Suva-based University of the South Pacific. This was a presentation made at the concluding “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 “Disruption and Renewal” conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.

Professor Derrick Armstrong speaking with other members of the final “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 development studies conference. Image: David Robie/PMC

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Royals talk empowerment, gender and climate advocacy with USP students

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex outside the University of the South Pacific’s Japan-Pacific ICT Centre on Laucala campus in Suva. Image: Wansolwara

By Mereoni Mili in Suva

Meeting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in person was a humbling experience this week for specially selected students from the University of the South Pacific, including two first-year student journalists Apenisa Vatuniveivuke and Dhruvkaran Nand.

Vatuniveivuke, who is an undergraduate student majoring in journalism and law, said he was pleased to be one of 10 students from the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education chosen to speak with the royal couple about their involvement in empowerment projects, women’s development and climate change advocacy.

“I was in the second group on youth leadership to meet the Duchess of Sussex. We were introduced to the Duchess by her escort,” he says.

“But we had a chance to speak to her. I introduced myself, my area of study and the work I was engaged in with civil society organisations and political parties especially working to get young people’s voices in national discussions,.”

“And she said, ‘Oh, that’s so wonderful. I think more young people should get involved’.

“We had a small display about a marginal man – half-Pacific Islander and half-modernist. Our message through that was to show when we come to USP, we come to get educated but at the same time we try not to forget our culture.

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“We were advocating on those types of platforms to ensure that when young people are educated they won’t forget where they’re from. The Duchess of Sussex’s reaction to our theme was wonderful.

‘Broke a bit of protocol’
“She was very receptive. We broke a bit of protocol by having a group photo taken. We were briefed not to do that but she actually agreed to have a group photo.”

Other student journalists were in the audience to witness the inaugural speeches while other journalism alumni were part of the accredited media team covering the royal tour in Fiji.

Solomon Islands student Cynthia Hou, 22, was another youth leader who was given an opportunity to meet the Duchess.

Solomon Islands student Cynthia Hou (middle) is flanked by friends at USP’s Laucala campus. Image: Mereoni Mili/Wansolwara

“It was an overwhelming experience because I’ve only seen her in magazines and on television. She encouraged me to continue the work I’m doing and to look into issues facing the Pacific.

“It was like a dream that went by so fast but the feeling is indescribable,” she said.

Another student, Sheenal Chand, 20, dubbed her encounter with the royals as an “amazing experience”.

Youth empowerment
“It was one I never thought would be so good. I spoke to her about the youth empowerment work I’m involved in and how our voices as young people can make a difference especially when highlighting issues such as climate change,” Chand said.

Inside the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, the couple witnessed a cultural performance on the effects of climate change in the Pacific by Oceania Dance group.

They were hosted by the Queen’s Young Leader Elisha Azeemah Bano and the Commonwealth Youth Award recipient Elvis Kumar, two outstanding USP students.

The event was live streamed to several USP campuses in the region.

Mereoni Mili is a final-year journalism student at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala campus reporting for Wansolwara. She was one of 250 students chosen to be part of the audience inside the USP Japan ICT Lecture Theatre. Wansolwara and the Pacific Media Centre have a content sharing partnership.

USP Journalism student Apenisa Vatuniveivuke was one of 10 students from USP’s Faculty of Arts, Law and Education chosen to meet the royal couple at Laucala campus. Image: Wansolwara

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

A future in journalism in the age of ‘media phobia’ – USP media awards

Report by Dr David Robie – Café Pacific.

Fiji Sun managing editor business Maraia Vula (middle) flanked by USP Journalism coordinator
Dr Shailendra Singh (left), joint winners Koroi Tadulala and Elizabeth Osifelo
and Professor David Robie (right). Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

Keynote address by Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie at The University of the South Pacific Journalism Awards,19 October 2018, celebrating 50 years of the university’s existence.

Kia Ora Tatou and Ni Sa Bula

For many of you millennials, you’re graduating and entering a Brave New World of Journalism … Embarking on a professional journalism career that is changing technologies at the speed of light, and facing a future full of treacherous quicksands like never before.

When I started in journalism, as a fresh 18-year-old in 1964 it was the year after President Kennedy was assassinated and I naively thought my hopeful world had ended, Beatlemania was in overdrive and New Zealand had been sucked into the Vietnam War.

And my journalism career actually started four years before the University of the South Pacific was founded in 1968.

Being a journalist was much simpler back then – as a young cadet on the capital city Wellington’s Dominion daily newspaper, I found the choices were straight forward. Did we want to be a print, radio or television journalist?

The internet was unheard of then – it took a further 15 years before the rudimentary “network of networks” emerged, and then another seven before computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web and complicated journalism.

The first rule for interviewing, aspiring journalists were told in newsrooms – and also in a 1965 book called The Journalist’s Craft that I rediscovered on my bookshelves the other day – was to pick the right source. Rely on sources who were trustworthy and well-informed.

This was long before Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post made “deep throat’ famous in their Watergate investigation in 1972.

The second rule was: make sure you get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but… We were told that we really needed to get a sense of when a woman or a man is telling the truth.

This, of course, fed into the third rule, which was: talk to the interviewee face to face. Drummed into us was accuracy, speed, fairness and balance.

Many of my days were spent on the wharves of Wellington Harbour painstakingly taking the details of the shipping news, or reporting accidents.

The whole idea was accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. And what a drumming we experienced from a crusty news editor calling us out when we made the slightest mistake.

If we survived this grueling baptism of fire, then we were bumped up from a cadet to a real journalist. There were few risks to journalists in those days – a few nasty complaints here and there, lack of cooperation from the public, and a possible defamation case if we didn’t know our media law.

It wasn’t until I went to South Africa in 1970 – the then white-minority ruled country that jailed one of the great leaders of our times, Nelson Mandela – that I personally learned how risky it could be being a journalist.

Jailings, assaults and banning orders were commonplace. One of my colleagues on the Rand Daily Mail, banned then exiled Peter Magubane, a brilliant photographer, was one of my earlier influences with his courage and dedication.

However, today the world is a very different place. It is basically really hostile against journalists in many countries and it continues to get worse.

Today assassinations, murders – especially the killing of those involved in investigating corruption – kidnappings, hostage taking are increasingly the norm. And being targeted by vicious trolls, often with death threats, is a media fact of life these days.

In its 2018 World Press Freedom Index annual report, the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without borders (RSF), declared that journalists faced more hatred this year than last year, not only in authoritarian countries but also increasingly in countries with democratically elected leaders.

RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement:

“The unleashing of hatred towards journalists is one of the worst threats to democracies.

“Political leaders who fuel loathing for reporters bear heavy responsibility because they undermine the concept of public debate based on facts instead of propaganda.

“To dispute the legitimacy of journalism today is to play with extremely dangerous political fire.”

Fifty seven journalists have been killed so far in 2018, plus 10 citizen journalists for a total of 67; 155 journalists have been imprisoned, with a further 142 citizen journalists jailed – a total of 297.

Professor David Robie (centre) with media freedom defenders at the 2018 Asia-Pacific RSF
strategic summit in Paris. Image: RSF

In July, it was my privilege to be in Paris for a strategic consultation of Asia-Pacific media freedom advocates in my capacity as Pacific Media Centre director and Pacific Media Watch freedom project convenor.

Much of the blame for this “press hatred” was heaped at that summit on some of today’s political leaders. We all know about US President Trump’s “media-phobia” and how he has graduated from branding mainstream media and much of what they publish or broadcast as “fake news” to declaring them “enemies of the people” – a term once used by Joseph Stalin.

#FIGHTFAKENEWS VIDEO INSERT

Source: Reporters Without Borders

However, there are many leaders in so-called democracies with an even worse record of toying with “press hatred”.

Take for example, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who is merely two years into his five-year term of office and he has unleashed a “war on drugs” killing machine that is alleged to have murdered between some 7,000 and 12,000 suspects – most of them extrajudicial killings.

He was pictured in the media cradling a high-powered rifle and he admits that he started carrying a gun recently – not to protect himself because he has plenty of security guards, but to challenge a critical senator to a draw “Wild West” style.

Instead, he simply had the senator arrested on trumped up charges. Duterte has frequently berated the media and spiced up his attacks with threats such as this chilling message he gave casually at a press conference:

“Just because you’re a journalist, you’re not exempted from assassination, if you are a son of a bitch. Free speech won’t save you.”

The death rate among radio journalists, in particular those investigating corruption and human rights violations, has traditionally been high in the Philippines.

In the Czech Republic late last year, President Miloš Zeman staged a macabre media conference stunt. He angered the press when he brandished a dummy Kalashnikov AK47 with the words “for journalists” carved into the woodstock at the October press conference in Prague, and with a bottle of alcohol attached instead of an ammunition clip.

In Slovakia, then Prime Minister Robert Fico called journalists “filthy anti-Slovak prostitutes” and “idiotic hyenas”. A Slovak reporter, Ján Kuciak, was shot dead in his home in February, just four months after another European journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia of Malta, who was investigating corruption, was killed by a targeted car-bombing.

Last week, a 30-year-old Bulgarian investigative journalist, Viktoria Marinova, was murdered. Police said the television current affairs host investigating corruption had been raped, beaten and then strangled. Most of the media killings are done with impunity.

And then the world has been outraged by the disappearance and shocking murder of respected Saudi Arabian journalist and editor Jamal Khashoggi by a state “hit squad” of 15 men inside his own country’s consulate in Istanbul. He went into the consulate on October 2 and never came out.

The exact circumstances of what happened are still unravelling daily, but Turkish newspaper reports reveal captured audio of his gruesome killing.

BRIEF VIDEO KHASHOGGI INSERT

Source: Al Jazeera’s Listening Post

Condemning the brutal act, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, expressed fears that enforced media disappearances are set to become the “new normal”.

While such ghastly fates for journalists may seem remote here in the Pacific, we have plenty of attacks on media freedom to contend with in our own backyard. And trolls in the Pacific and state threats to internet freedom are rife.

The detention of Television New Zealand’s Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver for four hours by police in Nauru at last month’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit while attempting to interview refugees is just one example of such attempts to shut down truth-seeking. Among the many protests, Amnesty International said:

“Whether it happens in Myanmar, Iran or right here in the Pacific, detaining journalists for doing their jobs is wrong. Freedom of the press is fundamental to a just society. Barbara Dreaver is a respected journalist with a long history of covering important stories across the Pacific.

“Amnesty International’s research on Nauru showed that the conditions for people who have been banished there by Australia amount to torture under international law. Children are self-harming and Googling how to kill themselves. That cannot be swept under the carpet and it won’t go away by enforcing draconian limits to media freedom.”

Journalists in the Pacific have frequently been persecuted by smallminded politicians with scant regard for the role of the media, such as led to the failed sedition case against The Fiji Times.

Professor David Robie with Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley and USP journalism coordinator
Dr Shailendra Singh. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

The media play a critical role in exposing abuses of power, such as Bryan Kramer’s The Kramer Report in exposing the 40 Maserati luxury car APEC scandal in Papua New Guinea last week. Papua New Guinea’s Maserati luxury sedans scandal.

In this year’s World Media Freedom Day speech warning about the “creeping criminalisation” of journalism, the new UNESCO chair of journalism Professor Peter Greste at the University of Queensland, asked:

“If we appear to be heading into journalism’s long, dark night, when did the sun start to disappear? Although the statistics jump around a little, there appears to be a clear turning point: in 2003, when the numbers of journalists killed and imprisoned started to climb from the historic lows of the late ’90s, to the record levels of the present.

“Although coincidence is not the same as causation, it seems hard to escape the notion that the War on Terror that President George W. Bush launched after 9/11 had something to do with it.”

Peter Greste himself, and his two colleagues paid a heavy price for their truth-seeking during the post Arab Spring upheaval in Egypt – being jailed for 400 days on trumped up terrorism charges for doing their job.

His media organisation, Al Jazeera, and rival media groups teamed up to wage their global “Journalism is not a crime” campaign.

Now that I have done my best to talk you out of journalism by stressing the growing global dangers, I want to draw attention to some of the many reasons why journalism is critically important and why you should be congratulated for taking up this career.

Next month, Fiji is facing a critically important general election, the second since the return of democracy in your country in 2014. And many of you graduating journalists will be involved.

Governments in Fiji and the Pacific should remember journalists are guardians of democracy and they have an important role to play in ensuring the legitimacy of both the vote and the result, especially in a country such as this which has been emerging from many years of political crisis.

But it is important that journalists play their part too with responsibilities as well as rights. Along with the right to provide information without fear or favour, and free from pressure or threats, you have a duty to provide voters with accurate, objective and constructive information.

The University of the South Pacific has a proud record of journalism education in the region stretching back ironically to the year of the inaugural coups, in 1987. First there was a Certificate programme, founded by Dr Murray Masterton (who has sadly passed away) and later Diploma and Degree qualifications followed with a programme founded by François Turmel and Dr Philip Cass.

It is with pride that I can look back at my five years with USP bridging the start of the Millennium. Among high points were gaining my doctorate in history/politics at USP – the first journalism educator to do so in the Pacific – and launching these very Annual Journalism Awards, initially with the Storyboard and Tanoa awards and a host of sponsors.

When I look at the outstanding achievements in the years since then with current Journalism Coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh and his colleagues Eliki Drugunalevu and Geraldine Panapasa, it is with some pleasure.

And USP should be rightly delighted with one of the major success journalism programmes of the Asia-Pacific region.

Wansolwara newspaper, which celebrated two decades of publishing in 2016, has been a tremendous success. Not many journalism school publications have such sustained longevity and have won so many international awards.

Innovation has been the name of the game, such as this climate change joint digital storytelling project with E-Pop and France 24 media. At AUT we have been proud to be partners with USP with our own Bearing Witness and other projects stretching back for two decades.

Finally, I would like pay tribute to two of the whistleblowers and journalists in the Pacific and who should inspire you in your journalism career.

Firstly, Iranian-born Behrouz Boochani, the refugee journalist, documentary maker and poet who pricked the Australian conscience about the terrible human rights violations against asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. He has reminded Canberra that Australia needs to regain a moral compass.

And activist lawyer communicator Joe Moses, who campaigned tirelessly for the rights of the villagers of Paga Hill in Port Moresby. These people were forced out of their homes in defiance of a Supreme Court order to make way for the luxury development for next month’s APEC summit.

Be inspired by them and the foundations of human rights journalism and contribute to your communities and countries.

Don’t be seduced by a fast foods diet of distortion and propaganda. Be courageous and committed, be true to your quest for the truth.

Vinaka vakalevu

Professor David Robie is director of the Pacific Media Centre and professor of journalism in the School of Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology. He is also editor of Pacific Journalism Review research journal and editor of the independent news website Asia Pacific Report. He is a former USP Journalism Coordinator 1998-2002.
david.robie@aut.ac.nz

University of the South Pacific’s award winning Class of 2018. Image: Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

This article was first published on Café Pacific.

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

MASI aims to develop regional journalism with USP boost

Media Association of Solomon Islands president Charles Kadamana, a University of the South Pacific journalism alumni, with wantok student journalists Rosalie Nongebatu (left) and joint top award winner Elizabeth Osifelo. Image: Harrison Selmen/Wansolwara

By Geraldine Panapasa in Suva

The Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) plans to work closely with the University of the South Pacific journalism programme to develop journalists in the region, says president Charles Kadamana.

Kadaman, a senior journalist with the Solomon Star daily newspaper, says past collaboration with USP Journalism has been successful, including a recent week-long training on anti-corruption reporting in the Solomon Islands.

He said the training was timely as the Solomon Islands government was in the process of debating the Anti-Corruption Bill.

USP 50 YEARS

“In Solomon Islands, there are about 36 USP journalism alumni now holding top jobs in the media industry, the government and in the private sectors,” said Kadamana, who was a guest at last week’s 18th USP Journalism Students Awards ceremony at Laucala campus in Suva.

“Looking at the list of journalism alumni, it is evident that the USP journalism programme has produced a lot of communications professionals in different areas contributing to our countries.

“Fiji and other Pacific countries also have USP journalism alumni in top posts.

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“Today, there is growing interest of journalists studying at USP. I am also happy to see the number of students from Solomon Islands is increasing.”

Dominated awards
Eleven student journalists are currently with the USP programme and they dominated the awards.

As educated young people, Kadamana encouraged student journalists to take up leadership roles, adding taking up journalism was not an easy task.

“There will be people who will stab you in the back. To avoid disaster, all you have to do is produce the results.

“Do not be the person who only wants the position for status and glory,” Kadamana said.

The USP journalism alumni said the university had been the breeding ground for nurturing future journalists to meet the needs of the region during the past 50 years.

Wansolwara News and the Pacific Media Centre have a content sharing arrangement.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Be courageous in your quest for truth,’ journalism academic tells graduates

Professor David Robie presenting the Best Mobile Journalism Documentary prize sponsored by Internews and Earth Journalism Network at the annual University of the South Pacific journalism awards. Pictured is Kirisitiana Uluwai of Fiji in the runner-up team. Image: Harrison Selmen/Wansolwara

By Geraldine Panapasa in Suva

Pacific journalism academic Professor David Robie believes the media play a critical role in exposing abuses of power in a world increasingly hostile towards journalists.

However, journalists in the Pacific are frequently “persecuted by smallminded politicians with scant regard for the role of the media”, he says.

Speaking at last week’s 18th University of the South Pacific (USP) Journalism Student Awards ceremony at Laucala campus in Suva, Fiji, Dr Robie said despite the growing global dangers surrounding the profession, journalism was critically important for democracy.

READ MORE: David Robie’s full USP journalism awards ‘media phobia’ speech

USP 50 YEARS

Dr Robie said while such “ghastly fates” for journalists – such as the extrajudicial killing of Saudi dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey earlier this month – may seem remote in the Pacific, there were plenty of attacks on media freedom to contend with, while trolls in the region and state threats to internet freedom were “also rife”.

“Next month, Fiji is facing a critically important general election, the second since the return of democracy in the country in 2014. And many graduating journalists will be involved,” Dr Robie said.

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“Governments in Fiji and the Pacific should remember journalists are guardians of democracy and they have an important role to play in ensuring the legitimacy of both the vote and the result, especially in a country such as this which has been emerging from many years of political crisis.

“But it is important that journalists play their part too with responsibilities as well as rights. Along with the right to provide information without fear or favour, and free from pressure or threats, you have a duty to provide voters with accurate, objective and constructive information.”

Professor David Robie presenting a Te Matau a Maui – Mau’s fishhook – to USP journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh for the newsroom to mark the “NZ connection”. Image: Harrison Selmen/Wansolwara

Tribute to whistleblowers
Dr Robie also paid tribute to two whistleblowers and journalists in the Pacific.

“Firstly, Iranian-born Behrouz Boochani, the refugee journalist, documentary maker and poet who pricked the Australian conscience about the terrible human rights violations against asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru,” Dr Robie said.

“He has reminded Canberra that Australia needs to regain a moral compass.

“And activist lawyer communicator Joe Moses, who campaigned tirelessly for the rights of the villagers of Paga Hill in Port Moresby.

“These people were forced out of their homes in defiance of a Supreme Court order to make way for the luxury development for next month’s APEC summit.

“Be inspired by them and the foundations of human rights journalism and contribute to your communities and countries.

“Don’t be seduced by a fast foods diet of distortion and propaganda. Be courageous and committed, be true to your quest for the truth.”

Professor Robie is the director of the Pacific Media Centre and professor of journalism in the School of Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology. He is also editor of Pacific Journalism Review research journal and the news website Asia Pacific Report. He is a former USP Journalism Coordinator 1998-2002.

Geraldine Panapasa is editor-in-chief of USP’s Wansolwara journalism newspaper.

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie and MASI president Charles Kadamana with graduating student journalists at the University of the South Pacific. Image: Harrison Selmen/Wansolwara

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

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.

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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.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Gallery: Pacific student journalists show their stuff on USP awards night

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Student journalists have celebrated the end of the academic year with their 18th annual awards at the University if the South Pacific.

They were in jovial spirits as 14 awards and cash prizes to the tune of $6000 were awarded to many of the students in a ceremony on Friday evening.

Solomon Islands students did especially well, taking away many of the prizes.

Keynote speaker was a former coordinator of the USP journalism programme, Professor David Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre.

Media Association of the Solomon Islands (MASI) president Charles Kadamana, a senior Solomon Star journalist who graduated from the USP programme last year, also spoke.

Full awards list | Professor David Robie’s speech

  • Photographers: Harry Selmen, Jovesa Naisua and David Robie

USP1: Graduating final year students and their awards with USP journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh (left) and PMC director Professor David Robie. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

ISP2: Part of the crowd at the USP journalism awards night. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP3: Invited speakers … USP journalism programme coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh (from left) with Pacific Media Centre’s professor David Robie, head of the School of Literature and Media (SLAM), and MASI president Charles Kadamana. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP4: MASI president Charles Kadamana and PMC director professor David Robie with graduating student journalists. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP5: PMC’s Dr David Robie speaking at the USP journalism awards. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP6: Keynote speaker Professor David Robie (left) presents a koha from New Zealand to USP journalism programme coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh during the awards ceremony. Image: Jovesa Naisua/Fiji Times

USP7: PMC’s Professor David Robie, Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley and USP journalism coordionator Dr Shailendra Singh at the awards. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP8: Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley presenting an award with the Storyboard in the background. Image: David Robie/PMC

USP9: PMC’s David Robie making a prsentation at the awards. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP10: Second year student journalists – smartest dress award? Image: David Robie/PMC

USP11: Kava not Fiji Gold. Image: David Robie/PMC

USP12: USP Journalism’s Geraldine Panapasa amd PMC’s Professor David Robie share a joke. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Solomon Islands students impressive at 18th USP journalism awards

Fiji Sun managing editor business Maraia Vula (middle) flanked by USP Journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh (left), joint winners Koroi Tadulala and Elizabeth Osifelo and Professor David Robie (right). Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

By Wansolwara Staff

Solomon Islands student journalists impressed at the annual University of the South Pacific media awards marking the 50th year of the Fiji-based regional institution.

The 18th USP student journalist awards on Friday night featured 14 prizes and more than $6000 in cash awards for excellence in journalism.

Solomon Islands students collected seven awards.

USP’s 50 YEARS

Final-year journalism students Elizabeth Osifelo from the Solomon Islands, who is also president of the Journalism Students Association, and Koroi Tadulala from Fiji scooped the premier award, Tanoa Award for the Most Outstanding Journalism Students, sponsored by Fiji Sun.

“The most important thing for us is being a responsible journalist – journalism has taught us not be passive but active – to pay attention to detail, to always be on your feet and to ask questions,” said Osifelo, who was in New Zealand earlier this year and visited AUT’s Pacific Media Centre and other news sites on a Pacific Cooperation Foundation scholarship.

“We learnt that we must read to develop our thinking.

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“At USP, we learnt that as journalists, we have a very important role to play in society. We got first-hand experience by reporting for our Wansolwara newspaper and website.

More confident
“Some of us came to USP fresh out of school with no skills or experience. After three years, we are much more experienced, far more confident and more ready than ever before to take on the world.

“We are sad to be leaving but we will remain family, no matter where in the world we end up.”

The Pacific Media Centre’s Professor David Robie speaking on the contemporary dangers of journalism. Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

Keynote speaker Professor David Robie, director of AUT’s Pacific Media Centre, spoke about the global dangers for journalists and reflected on his time at the university when he set up the USP Journalism Students Awards.

“It is with pride that I can look back at my five years with USP bridging the start of the millennium. Among high points were gaining my doctorate in history/politics at USP – the first journalism educator to do so in the Pacific – and launching these very annual journalism awards, initially with the Storyboard and Tanoa awards and a host of sponsors,” he said.

“When I look at the outstanding achievements in the years since then with current journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh and his colleagues Eliki Drugunalevu and Geraldine Panapasa, it is with some pleasure.

“And USP should be rightly delighted with one of the major success journalism programmes of the Asia-Pacific region.

Filipino students protest over the killings in the presidential “war on drugs”. Image: From Dr Robie’s “future of journalism” awards talk

Wansolwara newspaper, which celebrated two decades of publishing in 2016, has been a tremendous success. Not many journalism school publications have such sustained longevity and have won so many international awards.”

MASI president
USP journalism alumni and president of the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI), Charles Kadamana, was also a guest speaker at the event.

MASI president Charles Kadamana (right) on the USP journalism awards night. Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

He said the awards event was a fitting occasion for USP’s 50th anniversary.

“To those who received awards, I congratulate you. You deserve it. For others, do not be discouraged, rather you should be motivated to do better next time,” he said at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies pavilion where the event was held.

“USP, over the past 50 years, has been the breeding ground for nurturing future journalists to meet the needs of the region. Many graduates have taken up leadership role within the government, private sectors, institutions and in the media industry.

“My message to students is that you carry a big responsibility. My advice is to make good use of your time while studying at USP. Every year thousands of students across the region struggle to secure scholarships to pursue journalism as a career so you should regard yourselves as the luckiest ones.”

Part of the crowd at the USP journalism awards. Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

Organised by the University of the South Pacific Journalism Programme, the event is the longest running journalism awards in the region. It is the only awards for journalism in Fiji at the moment.

Dr Singh said the event recognises and rewards students who excel in their coursework, which includes producing news for print, online and broadcast media.

Other sponsors of the awards include Fiji Times Limited, Fiji Television Limited, Mai TV, FijiLive, Communications Fiji Limited, Islands Business, Pacific Islands News Association as well as international non-profit organisation Internews and Earth Journalism Network.

Pacific Media Centre’s professor David Robie, Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley and USP journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh on the USP awards night. Image: Wansolwara

Recipients of the 14 awards were:

FijiLive Most Promising First Year Student Award – Fredrick Kusu (Solomon Islands)
FijiLive
Best Online Reporting Award – Chris Ha’arabe (Solomon Islands)
Communications Fiji Limited Best Radio Student Award – Rosalie Nongebatu (Solomon Islands)
Fiji Television Limited Best Television Student Award – Sharon Nanau (Solomon Islands)
The Fiji Times Best News Reporting Award – Mereoni Mili and Anaseini Civavonovono
The Fiji Times Best Sports Reporting Award – Mitieli Baleiwai and Venina Tinaivugona
Islands Business Award for Best Feature Reporting – Laiseana Nasiga
Mai TV Award for Best Editor – Drue Slatter
Internews/Earth Journalism Network Awards for Best Mojo Documentary (Individual and Group) – Jared Koli (Solomon Islands for the Individual award) and Group 4 winners Kaelyn Dekarube (Nauru), Sharon Nanau, Eliza Kukutu (Solomon Islands), Harrison Selmen (Vanuatu) and Kirisitiana Uluwai
Pacific Islands News Association Encouragement Award – Dhruvkaran Nand
Wansolwara Award for Most Improved Student – Virashna Singh
The Fiji Times Storyboard Award for Best Regional Reporting – Rosalie Nongebatu and Semi Malaki (Tuvalu)
Fiji Sun Tanoa Award for the Most Outstanding Journalism Students – Koroi Tadulala and Elizabeth Osifelo

University of the South Pacific journalism graduating class of 2018. Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media