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Pacific Region: A Parachute Journalism Antidote

REGION: An Antidote For Parachute Journalism

By Dominika White/Pacific Media Centre

Parachute journalism is inevitable, says co-editor Selwyn Manning. However, he believes AUT University's unique new media database may help provide more depth to covering Asia-Pacific issues.

The database, named Pacific Media Watch, was launched by AUT's Office of Pasifika Advancement director Pauline Winter on June 9.

Manning says it is an "exciting" resource that contains accurate information for journalists to use and will help the quality of regional journalism by identifying issues in topics in which journalists have little knowledge.

Image: Professor Olaf Diegel (from left), associate professor David Robie and former Fiji Daily Post publisher Ranjit Singh at the launch. Photo: Del Abcede.

Manning's own experience in Fiji in 2006 proved to him how valuable online information is to international journalists.

"Clearly there was a coup waiting to happen around that time. A lot of the media over there really could not get to grips with what was going on, what was pushing that country toward that political crisis."

He says an article from a Melbourne-based academic-journalist, Published in Pacific Journalism Review was invaluable to the journalists in Fiji at that time as it went through the cultural history and background of the country.

"It kind of opened your eyes to what was going on," says Manning, who is also chair of the Pacific Media Centre advisory board.

Manning also believes PMW creates a synergy between academia and the media industry which will allow research to be used for understanding news issues.

"Without the media, academia is seen as a silo and would not be reaching out arguably to the communities and would not progress change," he says.

The new Pacific Media Watch is an updated version of the Sydney-based PMW website and has been established on AUT's new Dspace for digital archives.

Pacific Media Centre director associate professor David Robie was one of the founders of the original PMW in 1996. He says it is aimed at journalists and journalism schools in regions where information is difficult to obtain.

"It's actually quite difficult to get information, particularly on the media in the Pacific."

He says that although there are some good news websites, a lot of media archives do not go back far enough and sometimes the files disappear or are added to user pay collections.

However, Pacific Media Watch archives stretch back 12 years with more than 5500 files.

Taberannang Korauaba, a Kiribati journalist who worked on the site last year during his honours degree, says the new database is useful for the Pacific.

"It is extremely hard to obtain information from the Pacific, particularly countries that have no news websites," he says.

"I have visited the site on several occasions when I needed to find more info about any particular Pacific Island story."

Korauaba says he believes the site will help improve the quality of regional journalism.

Asked whether the database would create a further reliance on instant information, Dr Robie says that is unavoidable.

"That is a problem with parachute journalists anyway, we can't help that because that's always the policy of media organisations.

"However, we can provide a resource that's got a lot of in-depth information."

Pacific Media Watch is now an entity of the Pacific Media Centre, New Zealand's only media research center, based at AUT.

The PMW was launched to support Tongan publisher Kalafi Moala, fellow journalist Filokalafi 'Akau'ola and pro-democracy MP Akilisi Pohiva who were wrongfully jailed in 1996 for contempt of Parliament.

Peter Cronau, an ABC journalist in Australia and one of the PMW co-founders, helped develop the website and produce and gather the news reports and research papers.


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