Sunday, April 25, 2010

PMC, Red Cross plan war reporting seminar

Pacific Media Centre

The Pacific Media Centre, International Committee of the Red Cross and New Zealand Red Cross are jointly hosting twin special events on reporting wars at AUT University next month. They are:

4.30-6.45 pm, May 24, WA224 (AUT city conference centre): Screening of the film Balibo about the killing of six journalists in East Timor in 1975. Followed by a Q and A session with one of the film's consultants.

7.15-9pm : Reporting Wars: The Ongoing Challenges seminar, featuring a special video message from Chris Cramer of Reuters, New York, and a panel debating cutting edge issues, including the safety and protection of journalists.

The panel will include war correspondents Cameron Bennett (TVNZ), Mike McRoberts (TV3) and independent journalist Jon Stephenson. Guest speaker will be former ABC journalist Tony Maniaty, of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, who was at Balibo shortly before the TV journalists were killed. He is author of the recent book Shooting Balibo and was a consultant for the making of Balibo.

The seminar will be chaired by Dr Camille Nakhid of the PMC Advisory Board. It follows up two conferences on war reporting in Sydney and Wellington sponsored by the ICRC last May.

A special edition of Pacific Journalism Review will be launched at the event by Jean-Luc Metzker, head of the ICRC Delegation in the Pacific, based in Suva.

Refreshments will be served between the film screening and the seminar.

This will be a compelling event for media and communication professionals, journalism students, NGOs, and those interested in international humanitarian law - don't miss it. Open entry and free.

Register your interest with

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Media ethics high on agenda for winner of inaugural Indian Newslink scholarship

By Thakur Ranjit Singh: Pacific Media Centre

Barbara Dreaver’s Samoa “gangs and drugs” story, Voreqe Bainimarama’s controversial media decree in Fiji, and the Julian Moti saga in Australia make interesting news debates. And a common issue in the middle is media ethics.

Imogen Crispe, an Auckland University Bachelor of Arts honours graduate with a double major in philosophy and French, has a passion for ethics.

She is the inaugural recipient of the Indian Newslink Scholarship for Postgraduate Journalism. In formally receiving her award at the School of Communication Studies awards function, she acknowledged Indian Newslink for a scholarship that is seen as generous because it is an “open” one - not restricted on race, regional or other grounds.

In fact, she almost did not apply for this, assuming it was for “Indians” because of the sponsor. However, her search of the criteria for the award convinced her that she qualifies and hence should pursue her dream of becoming a journalist.

Crispe says she had an interest in writing, researching and talking to people. This was evident with blog site she used to run. While studying for philosophy at Auckland University, she developed her interest in ethics and feels strongly about ethics in media.

She sees herself as repeating the feats and travel history of her forbears. In the early 1950s, her grandparents were on overseas experience in Britain while her father was born in England to Kiwi parents.

At the age of three, her father moved over with her grandparents to New Zealand. Some three decades later, Imogen’s parents found themselves in England and saw the birth of their first daughter, Imogen Crispe in Surrey.

When she was three, her parents moved to Dubai where her father still lives and works in the construction industry. At the age of 13, she moved to New Zealand as a boarding student at Auckland Diocesan School for Girls. While away from parents since that age, she never felt lonely. This was because of her caring grandparents at Auckland and Rotorua, and uncles and aunties as well.

Imogen’s area of study and her interests go together. While initially somewhat apprehensive about whether she would enjoy journalism, her enthusiasm was quite evident and visible when she said that she made the right choice. So did the selection panel in picking somebody who is not only rooted in philosophy and ethics but also widely travelled from an early age.

As part of her one year scholarship, she is studying for the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication (Journalism). She enjoys all aspects of journalism studies such as print media, online, TV, radio and photojournalism.

The current recession has perhaps been responsible for pushing people to study who otherwise may have been in employment. This applies to her as well.

After finishing her bachelor’s degree at Auckland University, she hunted for jobs for a year but never got anything that she enjoyed doing. She started pondering about her future and it was then that her interest in writing developed with her blog site.

Her only other sibling, a younger sister is studying vertinary science in Perth at Murdoch University – coincidently named after the media mogul who owns the Fiji Times and the Post-Courier in Papua New Guinea, among others worldwide.

Photo of Imogen Crispe: Thakur Ranjit Singh

The Indian Newslink scholarship at AUT
Other School of Communication Studies scholarships

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PMC comments on Fiji media decree and regional coverage

Pacific Media Centre

The controversial Fiji draft media decree, news coverage of Samoa and Tonga and the rest of the region and journalism education have all featured in this week's commentaries from the Pacific Media Centre.

Censorship by legal camouflage (forthcoming article in the Walkley Magazine) - April

Radio NZ's Mediawatch co-host Jeremy Rose interviews PMC director Dr David Robie on the Fiji Media Industry Development Decree - April 18

Media7 panel criticises BSA over 'guns and drugs' ruling (Pacific Scoop) - April 17

Fiji fights on for a free media (article in the New Zealand Herald Online) - April 16

PMC director Dr David Robie with TVNZ's Barbara Dreaver and Media Freedom Committee chairman Tim Pankhurst in a Media7 panel on Pacific media coverage hosted by Russell Brown - April 15

Check out our news website Pacific Scoop for further updates.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

PMC features in TVNZ report on tough Fiji media crackdown

Pacific Media Centre

Pacific Media Centre's David Robie featured in Barbara Dreaver's Television NZ report on the new Media Industry Development Decree 2010. Dreaver, still banned in Fiji by the military-backed government, says the regime is set to introduce tough new laws that could see journalists locked up or fined 10 times their salary if they write stories criticising the dictatorship...

David Robie, director of the Auckland University of Technology's Pacific Media Centre, knows all too well of the situation in Fiji. He lived there for years, training journalists.

"This is a very vindictive, punitive draft decree and clearly the bottom line is aimed at one news organisation in particular -
The Fiji Times," says Robie.

It is virtually the only organisation that has stood up to the regime. It has been a thorn in the self-imposed government's side.

Cartoon: Malcolm Evans/Pacific Journalism Review

PMC's David Robie critiques Fiji draft media decree

Pacific Media Centre

Pacific Scoop has featured David Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre, talking about the controversial Media Industry Development Decree being ushered in by the military-backed regime. 95bFM’s Will Pollard interviews Dr Robie on the implications for the future in Fiji - and also around the Pacific region.

Will Pollard talks to David Robie on 95bFM

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Draft Fiji media decree draconian and punitive

By David Robie: Pacific Media Centre

Fiji’s draft media decree is draconian and punitive and will fail as a development communication model.

Many aspects of the draft law are deeply disturbing and the harsh proposed penalties for editors and journalists who fall foul of the proposed rules will curb any hope of a return to an independent Fourth Estate.

This will be a blow to media freedom throughout the Pacific and provide a damaging precedent for other politicians in the region keen to rein in a free press.

The draft Media Industry Development Decree 2010 provides for the establishment of a Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) to “encourage, promote and facilitate” news media organisations and services at a “high standard” and a statutory Media Tribunal to judge complaints against media.

The new provision restricting foreign ownership to 10 percent of a media organisation and directorships to Fiji citizens who have been residing in the country for five of the past seven years, and nine of the past 12 months.

Vindictive section
This is clearly a vindictive section aimed at crippling the Fiji Times, the country’s largest and most influential newspaper, which is owned by a Murdoch subsidiary, News Limited.

The regime wants to put the newspaper out of business, or at least effectively seize control and muzzle its independent stance – seen by the military-backed government as “anti-Fiji”.

While international responses have focused on the serious impact for the Fiji Times group, it will also hit the other two dailies – the struggling Fiji Daily Post, which has 51 per cent Australian ownership, and the Fiji Sun, which has taken a more “pro-Fiji” (ie the regime) line than the Times but has some expatriate directors.

Other concerns about the draft law include:

• Too much power being vested in the ministerial-appointed director of the MIDA and chairman of the Media Tribunal. Both agencies need wider community representation and independence.

• The power to investigate suspected breaches of the decree and to search and seize documents and computer equipment (albeit with a warrant). This would stifle any investigative journalism, although there has been little of that since the 2006 coup.

• A requirement that all news reports publish a “byline” identifying the author. An opportunity for vindictive reprisals from a vengeful dictatorship.

• The power to punish media organisations guilty of an offence under the decree with a fine of up to F$500,000, and individual editors and journalists with a fine of up to $100,000 or a maximum jail term of five years. This is so intimidating that many of Fiji’s better and more experienced journalists will be tempted to leave Fiji if they can – and there has been a steady exodus of media people ever since the first two coups in 1987 – or discourage young people entering the profession.

• The power to proactively investigate a media organisation without a public complaint being filed. This opens the door to vindictive abuse in a climate of dictatorship and the singling out of media organisations that do not toe the regime line.

Better training
There is a case to be made for better engagement by media on national development issues, but this should be achieved through more journalism training and education and more support for the country’s journalism schools and training institutions, such as the University of the South Pacific.

All governments in Fiji – not just the current regime – have lambasted the media ever since independence when it suits them, but have provided precious little support for training and education for the industry.

A government cannot legislate people’s minds. Much more can be achieved by freeing up the media environment, backing off from censorship and engaging with the media in a more cooperative manner.

To get its own side of the story across, the Fiji regime should establish a national news agency like many developing countries do and let the media get on with its job of reporting unfettered in the public interest.

Codes of ethics previously administered by the self-regulatory Fiji Media Council have been incorporated into the draft decree as statutory schedules.

But it is not yet clear what future role the council would have as the authority and tribunal would overtake its powers.

While in a democracy, a media development authority could have merits – especially if it genuinely supported stronger training and education programmes – in a dictatorship it is dangerous. This smacks of blatant and insidious control.

With a decree like this in place in Fiji, who needs censorship?

Dr David Robie is an associate professor in AUT University’s School of Communication Studies and director of the Pacific Media Centre. He is a former head of journalism at the University of the South Pacific.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pasifika media scholarship winners set their goals

By Josephine Latu: Pacific Media Centre

Two new Pasifika scholarship students have joined the Bachelor of Communication Studies degree programme at AUT University this year - and hope to inspire young people in their communities to follow their lead.

Jordan Puati, 20, and Krissy Rangi, 18, have been awarded AUT/Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) Pasifika communication scholarships.

PIMA chair and Māori Television investigative journalist Iulia Leilua presented the prizes at the School of Communications Studies awards on March 31 – a special ceremony to celebrate student achievements and acknowledge supporters.

“The AUT/PIMA award is to support a new generation of Pacific people in their studies and to show them a career in the media is achievable. People are creative, but they need support,” said Leilua.

The AUT sponsorship covers tuition costs for both Rangi and Puati until they graduate, subject to annual reviews of progress.

“Pasifika students have the potential to tell our stories in an authentic way, and they also have the potential to show that they can have a mainstream perspective as well, rather than just being pigeonholed for Pacific Islands material,” she added.

Natural performer
Jordan Puati was born in London, raised in Wellington, before moving to the Cook Islands for his high school education.

A natural performer, Puati has travelled around the region performing Cook Islands music and dance, and is looking towards a career in TV presenting or advertising.

If he succeeds, Puati plans to use his profile to encourage youth in Pacific Island communities in New Zealand as well as the Cook Islands.

“It’s a big deal. For Cook Islanders, if they see someone else doing it, then it’s not so hard to do it themselves. It would feel good to give something back and to make things easier for other Pacific Islanders,” he said.

Although he is the only Pacific Islander in one of his classes, Puati sees it as a chance to give a Pasifika point of view.

“You don’t have to see your Pacific Island identity as a barrier. It’s a positive thing.”

Creative streak
Krissy Rangi is Samoan-Maori and has shown a strong creative streak since her years at Selwyn College in Mission Bay.

“I started being interested in photography, but now I’m interested in moving images. It’s fascinating,” she said.

For Rangi, media is relevant to young generations because of its creative potential, although it “needs to be suitable for the younger audiences because they are growing up too fast".

While she is also outnumbered in her classes as a Pacific Islander, Rangi urges Pasifika students not to be “put off”.

“Just do it,” she said. “I’m loving it. The programme is everything I wanted to do”

Former recipients of the award have gone on to successful careers in the industry, including Leilani Moimoisea (Radio New Zealand), Kitekei’aho Tu’akalau (Pacific Media Network), Christine Gounder (Radio NZ), John Pulu (TNews/TVNZ) and Taberannang Korauba (Pacific Community News).

Among other scholarships presented was the inaugural Kiwi Asian Journalism Scholarship sponsored by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, which has been awarded to nurse Corazon Miller, a fluent Tagalog speaker.

The foundation also supports the AUT/China Daily Journalism Scholarships, organised by the Pacific Media Centre. Michelle Ong and Lucy Mullinger have won the three-month internships in Beijing this year.

Winner of this year's inaugural Indian Newslink Postgraduate Journalism Scholarship is Imogen Crispe and Alisha Lewis has won the TVNZ Diversity Journalism Scholarship. PMC director Dr David Robie presented the Asia NZ Foundation scholarships on behalf of media adviser Charles Mabbett and the Indian Newslink award for editor Venkat Rahman.

News chief Cliff Joiner presented the TVNZ scholarship.

Pictures: Top: PIMA's deputy chair Chris Lakatani (fom left), Jordan Puati, PIMA chair Iulia Leilua and Krissy Rangi. Middle: Iulia Leilua; senior lecturer Rosemary Brewer presents the top year one BCS award to Kimberlee Downs, winner of last year's TVNZ diversity award; PMC's Dr David Robie with the China Daily scholarship winners Lucy Mullinger and Michelle Ong. Below: Scholarship winners Krissy Rangi, Corazon Miller, Lucy Mullnger, Michelle Ong and Imogen Crispe. Photos: Josephine Latu and Del Abcede

For more information on the AUT-PIMA and other diversity opportunities, visit the AUT School of Communications Studies scholarships webpage.

Awards and scholarships photo gallery