Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Forum flagship initiative for homegrown Pacific journalism

MELBOURNE-based Fiji academic and commentator Dr Mosese Waqa (caricature) had some kind words to say about the Pacific Scoop coverage of the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum earlier this month. He wasn't alone, a heap of praise was thrown towards our postgraduate students who were on the job. Some 47 stories (many of them in-depth) were filed along with a couple of video reports and photojournalism packages. See the above VJ report by Christopher Chang and Alexander Winkler as an example. Waqa writes:

Without Pacific Media Watch [read Pacific Scoop], the overall media coverage of the PIF annual meeting at Auckland would have been mediocre at best.

What I like about your coverage is the diversity in the issues covered by your team (big and small, ones that have a "traditional fit" and ones "outside the box" etc). Most interesting and most encouraging indeed in terms of demonstrating institutional commitment in capacity building for the long term, you committed yourselves in supporting actual journalism students in asking the questions (some of them ground breaking, like the West Papua question to UN Gen Sec., that the mainstream media quickly dropped) and being the reporters themselves.

I truly think, this is a flagship initiative for homegrown Pacific journalism in the region and hopefully you can also create similar platforms in the future for creating synergies for Asia-Pacific collaborations, helping our neighbours have a better understanding of the Pacific - now that the United Nations (and indeed the international community) has adopted a more inclusive tag for the Asia group of nations to become Asia-Pacific Group.

Vinaka Vakalevu to the all the
Pacific Media Watch team members. Bring it on guys!!!!

Many thanks Mo. And just a quick word of clarification:

The credit is due to the Pacific Scoop project team done in partnership between the independent Scoop Media group and AUT University's Pacific Media Centre. Pacific Media Watch is another PMC project, which included carrying summaries of the student daily Forum file. The team (part of the postgraduate Asia-Pacific Journalism course) was led by Alex Perrottet, PMW's contributing editor, who was chief reporter for the team. The accredited student journalists were: International students involved in the coverage (NZ unless listed otherwise) were: Karen Abplanalp, Kim Austin, Christopher Chang, Chen Bei (China), Nigel Moffiet, Idoko Ojabo (Nigeria), Sarah Robson, Alexander Winkler (Germany), Henry Yamo (Papua New Guinea) and Victoria Young. Kiribati Independent editor Taberannang Korauaba, an AUT graduate, was also part of the team. Take a bow, guys.

Also worth mentioning is Scoop co-editor and general manager Alastair Thompson's message to the students:

David, Congratulations to you and your team on the coverage. I think this has been the best reported Pacific Islands Forum ever - by your team in particular. And in doing such a marvellous job you have set a new bar of professionalism for student/industry journalism projects.

I would also note that you have more than doubled Pacific Scoop's regular traffic for the period ... Finally I think it is worth making the point that while the PIF is important, it is unfortunately very underplayed and misunderstood by the New Zealand media.

The contrast of the sympathic and engaged coverage which you have provided has filled a gap and in many ways shown the professionals how the job ought be done. Sadly resources like those which you provided to this forum are seldom available for any media event in NZ.

Moreover, by providing such a comprehensive window on the myriad of issues facing the nations of the Pacific as you have done - while the diplomatic communities of NZ, Australia, the UN and the EU are watching closely - you have done the Pacific and its peoples a fantastic service.

Thank you and best regards

Alastair Thompson

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