Pacific Media Watch

16 August 2016

REGION: Make better use of 'indy' journalism role, academic tells universities

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Associate Professor Pradip Thomas, co-director of the CCSC, making a presentation to Professor David Robie. Image: Laura McDowell / CCSC

BRISBANE (CCSC/Pacific Media Watch): Universities with strong journalism and communication programmes should step up and produce independent media with the “tremendous resources” of talented students at their disposal, says a media educator.

“We should be playing our role in strengthening the Fourth Estate in the face of a declining global environment for independent journalism,” says Professor David Robie.

Dr Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology, gave a seminar organised by the Centre for Communication and Social Change at the University of Queensland. He presented an overview of the challenges of two successful independent media products published out of Auckland – Pacific Scoop and Asia Pacific Report.

He described Pacific Scoop in its six years of existence as one of the best specialist news websites on Pacific affairs, produced in partnership with Scoop Media Limited in Wellington.

But the new website replacing it this year, Asia Pacific Report, had boosted the digital options and some of the recent highlights were: livestreaming of the Philippine presidential elections – one of the biggest audiences the website had experienced; sustained coverage of the Papua New Guinea student unrest for two months climaxing with PNG police opening fire on the students; strong reporting on climate change and sustainability in the region; and comprehensive coverage on West Papua.

“Enterprising Pacific student journalists, citizen journalists and alternative online sources have been key to this independent coverage,” he said.

He has also directed several award-winning newspapers in the Pacific, including Uni Tavur and Wansolwara.

Asia Pacific Report is backed up by the Pacific Media Watch research and publication project with TJ Aumua as editor.

Dr Robie, who is on sabbatical, was at Queensland University to meet staff and students of the CCSC. He also travelled to Sydney to visit the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at UTS and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, which runs a programme for journalists and has been recently elevated to a department at Sydney University.

Dr Robie’s presentation at Queensland University

Professor David Robie with Associate Professor Pradip Thomas, co-director of the CCSC, centre organiser Laura McDowell, and some of the other staff and doctoral students who attended the seminar. Image: CCSC

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