Asia-Pacific Nius

3 September 2014

NZ-based student journalists head for Fiji to cover post-coup election

Hero image
The Fiji-bound team from AUT University: Mads Anneberg (from left) and Alistar Kata, and the Auckland-based Pacific Scoop elections editor Tom Carnegie. Image: Del Abcede/PMC
3 September 2014

Anna Majavu
A group of AUT Asia-Pacific journalism students from Denmark and New Zealand is setting up a news bureau to cover the Fiji elections.

Two of the student journalists, Alistar Kata and Mads Anneberg, will travel to Fiji to report on the elections on internship with local media, while the third student, Thomas Carnegie, will be based in the Pacific Media Centre and Pacific Scoop in Auckland as coordinating editor.

Kata will work at the University of the South Pacific’s student newspaper, Wansolwara, and Radio Pasifik, while Anneberg will be based at Repúblika magazine in Fiji.

“This is a ground-breaking opportunity for New Zealand-based student journalists to experience a historic election coming eight years after the 2006 coup,” says Professor David Robie, director of AUT University’s PMC.

“It follows in the tradition of having students on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course reporting on the Pacific Islands Forum over the past four years”.

“We are thankful for the support of Repúblika and the University of the South Pacific in enabling this opportunity,” Dr Robie added.

Anneberg said covering the elections would be an “amazing experience”.

High stakes
“I'm very grateful for the opportunity. As a reporter in Denmark, I have never reported on anything where the stakes are even remotely as high for the readers, and I hope I can do it justice.”

Professor Sudesh Mishra, head of USP’s School of Language, Arts and Media, said the USP-AUT partnership was significant.

“We are thrilled to be hosting graduate journalists from our sister university in Auckland.  Cross-institutional exchanges and attachments are a vital part of what we do since our students stand to benefit from working with their counterparts from abroad.”

Ricardo Morris, editor of Repúblika, said it would be a great opportunity for journalists-in-training from a close major neighbour of Fiji to observe the country’s transition back to parliamentary democracy after after eight years of rule by decree.

"Not only will it be a new experience for our New Zealand colleagues, very few local journalists left in the industry have covered the previous or any other election.

“For all of us, though, the electoral system is completely new and for the first time voters will not be compelled by law to vote along ethnic lines,” Morris said.

The new proportional representation system requires voters to make only a single choice from a field of almost 250 candidates for 50 parliamentary seats.

Explaining changes
To explain the changes in Fiji's electoral system to voters - or an audience back in New Zealand - will require a thorough understanding of the system and the tallying of votes and distribution of seats.

"I am sure Alistar and Mads will enjoy the challenge of reporting Fiji's general election and I am just as keen to listen to their take on our democratic processes,” Morris added.

Kata described the situation in Fiji as “real and tentative”.   

“I see it as such a golden opportunity to use what I have been learning through the course of this year,” she said.

Carnegie is aiming for a career in political journalism in the Asia-Pacific region.

“This is a great opportunity for me to develop my knowledge and understanding of the Fiji political system,” he said.

Under the government’s media decree, the student journalists were required to register with the government’s Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) and gain permission to report on the elections.

Their earlybird stories have been filed here but their main coverage will begin on Monday.

Pacific Scoop Fiji elections coverage

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

Anna Majavu

PMW contributing editor 2014

Anna Majavu is the Pacific Media Watch freedom project contributing editor for 2014.