AUCKLAND (Pacific Scoop / Pacific Media Watch): New Zealanders should not take their media freedom for granted, a leading Pasifika journalist told a public seminar marking World Press Freedom Day last night.
“I think there is a lot we have achieved but I’m not for a second complacent …we need to be vigilant,” she said.
Iulia Leilua, chair of the Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA), said the New Zealand media faced more “subtle” issues than other Pacific nations.
“It is not an obviously glaring issue, but we do still face a lot of barriers to reporting – socially, culturally and economically,” she told the seminar, hosted by the Pacific Media Centre at AUT University in Auckland.
She said New Zealand needed more Pacific and Māori representation in mainstream media.
“Pacific people in New Zealand still face subtle injustice and intolerance,” she said.
Leilua said Māori and Pacific people had “depressing statistics” in crime and health and the media needed to do more to address these issues.
“Not enough hard questions are being asked by the mainstream media about why these depressing statistics exist,” she said.
Leilua also referenced the recent Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, which showed New Zealand had dropped five ranks in the past year.
New Zealand went from 8th place down to 13th in the latest survey.
Leilua said this drop indicated that in some aspects the New Zealand media was seen to be going “backwards” as the fight for ratings threatened to jeopardise the quality of reporting.
“This brings to public attention that things have been slipping in New Zealand,” she said.
Leilua said it was not all “doom and gloom” and New Zealand had a lot to be proud of.
‘Flourishing Pacific media’
“We do have a flourishing Pacific media community in New Zealand,” she said.
During the evening Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie screened two new media freedom videos – one from Fiji Television and one made by AUT staff and students.
AUT television journalism student Jordan Puati was interviewer and AUT television journalism lecturer Danni Mulrennan director of the journalism school video in response to press freedom issues in the Pacific.
Mulrennan said it was a “privilege” to work on this project and to see AUT students responding to these issues.
“There certainly are ways in which AUT students can engage with journalists across the Pacific and also students across the Pacific,” she said.
Iulia Leilua was interviewed in the video and said New Zealand needed more thorough investigative journalism.
“We need a lot stronger reporting in areas where there is social injustice or inequality,” she said.
During the evening, Auckland University’s Centre for Pacific Studies researcher Dr Steven Ratuva launched the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom report.
The report, researched and written by Alex Perrottet and Dr David Robie with a team throughout the Pacific, outlined key issues surrounding press freedom in the Pacific.
Other speakers in the forum included Professor Crosbie Walsh, publisher of an independent blog on Fiji; Papua New Guinean journalist Henry Yamo; and Pakistani media educator and journalist Rukhsana Aslam, who had just returned from her field studies in her home country.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY 2012 A Pacific media freedom video featuring Iulia Leilua (Pacific Media Islands Association - PIMA), John Pulu (Tagata Pasifika) and Alex Perrottet (Pacific Media Watch). Reporter: Jordan Puati Other reports include: * NZ must be vigilant over media freedom, says PIMA chair * Pacific press freedom fragile, says PMC academic * A discussion our news media need to have * Press freedom a delicate flower in the Pacific * Free speech no fait accompli, says PMW editor * Assaults, repression, self-censorship plague Pacific media, says new PMW report