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Asia:NZ Media e-newsletter August 2008

Media e-newsletter


Kia ora and welcome to the August edition of the Asia New Zealand Foundation media newsletter. This month, we make some observations about the Beijing Olympic Games, welcome back Arlene Morgan from Columbia University and highlight the work of a number of Asian New Zealanders in our media. We also note the valuable legacy of Australasian Chinese researcher Henry Chan who passed away earlier this year.

In this issue:

• China’s Olympian balancing act

• US expert on reporting diversity returns to NZ

• Asia:NZ media roundup

• Asians in the media

• Benefit screening for shooting victim’s family

• Newspaper launches Indian business awards

• Beijing artist presents her Kiwi garden

• Sculpture to remember an act of infamy

• Two billion watch Olympic opening ceremony

• Tribute to Henry Chan 1937-2008

China’s Olympian balancing act
The Olympic Games are well underway and it is compelling viewing on so many levels – both in the sporting arena and off it.

What has been starkly obvious is the huge paradox at work in the way the Chinese authorities seek to manage and present the Olympic Games.

As China strives to be a perfect host by implementing a clean, secure and welcoming environment around the Games, it is also providing ammunition for criticism – some of it reasonable, some not.

There is an evident tension between a government showcasing its New China to the world and the visiting foreign journalists who are more concerned with highlighting the two Ps – pollution and protests.

While pollution is proving to be less of a problem, many journalists view the tight security, the lack of metaphorical space for spontaneity and internet curbs thrown around the Games as effective demonstrations of how China controls dissent.

This paradox is described by Tim Wu writing in Slate magazine. “China's idea of what makes for a better Olympics for foreign consumption - tightened security and cleaning up marginal elements - is exactly what makes Western reporters crazy.”

“None of this is to trivialize the issues the media raise about human rights abuses, censorship, or the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang. For the most part, I happen to agree with the Western critics.

“But perhaps the key is the difference, as one long time foreign correspondent puts it, between stories that are appropriately negative and coverage that's just downright cynical.”

The event has even moved some journalists and bloggers to liken the Beijing Games to the 1936 Berlin Games. But what’s missing is context that acknowledges just how significantly China has changed in 30 years.

While there’s no doubt that China is not where the West would like it to be ideologically and politically, the news media needs to be aware that life has improved for millions of Chinese who now have the increased freedom to travel around China, to make money, to own property, to participate in local democratic elections and to go overseas to live, study or work.

The thousands of Chinese students that come to New Zealand to live, study or emigrate are a yardstick of the country’s relative openness.

As one New Zealand blogger based in Beijing said: “Activists and dissidents aside, for most people making a decent living trumps all political concerns. The days of cradle-to-grave state care and the 'iron rice bowl' are long gone. Now it's everyone for themselves and with millions of people to compete with, that doesn't leave much time for political discussion.”

Meanwhile, “President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are enjoying huge support here in a year studded with events that have whipped up nationalistic pride”.

This is why those making the case that the Games are a massive public relations exercise for the government in Beijing have only got part of the picture right, because clearly the Chinese public's pride and appetite for the Olympics is just as large.

The fact is that if you're Chinese and you live in China, there's an overwhelming probability that you'll be backing the Games to the final firework and for China to be on top the medal table when that moment comes. Failure to grasp this is to misunderstand just how important the Olympics are to the Chinese people as well as to China’s leadership.

US expert on reporting diversity returns to NZ
An American authority on reporting the impact of changing demographics will be sharing her observations of the New Zealand news media in the context of her over 30 years’ experience in the United States.

Arlene Morgan, a former Philadelphia Enquirer journalist and current Associate Dean of Prizes and Programmes at Columbia University’s Journalism School in New York, will be returning to New Zealand as a guest of the New Zealand Journalism Training Organisation (NZJTO) and the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

She will be participating in the 2008 Diversity Forum in Auckland on Monday August 25 as part of the Media Diversity Forum. The Media Diversity Forum is hosted by the AUT Pacific Media Centre and the Human Rights Commission.

The issues to be discussed at the Media Diversity Forum are: What’s happening and what needs to happen? It will be held at Nga Wai Horotiu Marae, AUT University at 55 Wellesley St, Auckland, from 9 am to noon.

Visit the Human Rights Commission website www.hrc.co.nz to register and for more details

Arlene Morgan will also give a presentation entitled International Perspective on Media and Diversity in Wellington on Friday August 29. She will talk about key similarities in ethnic diversity between New Zealand and the United States, key differences, and what media in the two countries can learn from each other.

The Wellington forum will be held at the Bowen State Building in Bowen St from 2 pm to 4 pm.

She will also be taking a number of workshops at journalism schools at AUT University, Whitireia Polytechnic, Wintec and the University of Canterbury.

Arlene Morgan joined Columbia University in August 2000 after a 31-year career at The Philadelphia Inquirer where she served as an assistant managing editor for readership, hiring and staff development.

In addition to her expertise on issues of covering and hiring for diversity, Ms Morgan conducts workshops on credibility issues and on diversity for news organisations, using examples of outstanding reporting from the "Let's Do It Better!" programme.

Ms Morgan’s workshops will highlight examples of excellence in the reporting of ethnic diversity and discuss successful strategies used by journalists and media outlets.

Her book The Authentic Voice includes examples of reporting ethnic diversity in the US and is available through the NZJTO.

Asia:NZ media roundup
A broadcaster and a print journalist have received 2008 Southeast Asia media travel awards. Radio producer and documentary maker Ryan Hutching is on assignment in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam while The Press journalist Rebecca Todd will go to Vietnam later this year.

The deadline for South Asia media travel awards is September 16. For more information, visit http://www.asianz.org.nz/grants/media-travel.

Dominion Post reporter and Massey University journalism graduate Tom Fitzsimons has just returned from six weeks on work experience at the Shanghai Daily. The Dominion Post will host a Shanghai Daily journalist – Zhang Liuhao – who will arrive in early September.

Two AUT journalism graduates – Dylan Quinnell and Marc Checkley – are currently in Beijing working at the China Daily Online for the duration of the Olympic Games. Dylan Quinnell was an intern at Indonesia’s TVRI station in early 2008 – you can read his impressions of the internship and life in Jakarta here: http://www.asianz.org.nz/coveringasia/fieldnotes/dylanquinnell-fulltext

Two University of Canterbury journalism graduates – Kate Shuttleworth and Isaac Davison – are currently on work experience at CNN-IBN in New Delhi and CNBC Asia in Singapore respectively. Kate Shuttleworth sent us this report from New Delhi: http://www.asianz.org.nz/coveringasia/fieldnotes-katecnnibn, and Isaan Davison reflects on learning the intricacies of business reporting in a piece which you can find here: http://www.asianz.org.nz/coveringasia/fieldnotes-davisonfulltext

Three Massey University journalism graduates – Priyanka Bhonsule, Stephanie McKay and Will Hine – are currently on work placement at the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia.

Asians in the media
One of the TVNZ’s many faces and voices of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games has been Chinese New Zealand film maker Sophie Zhang.

Ms Zhang is the director of So Far Yet So Close, a documentary about New Zealand musician Leon Wharekura who makes trips to China to teach blind children in the city of Tianjin. It has screened on Maori Television and the 2006 DOCNZ Festival.

In other news, AUT University senior lecturer in film, media, television and media studies, Dr Shuchi Kothari, has had the special honour of having two films selected by the 39th Toronto International Film Festival.

The two films will represent two different countries: Apron Strings from New Zealand (co-written with Dianne Taylor and directed by Sima Urale) and Firaaq, an Indian film which Dr Kothari co-wrote with director Nandita Das.

Apron Strings is a parallel story of two families and two cultures set in suburban Otahuhu. Firaaq traces the emotional journeys of five families caught up in the religious clashes that took place in the Indian state of Gujarat in early 2002.

Finally, it is worth mentioning the top rank amateur golfer in the world is Korean New Zealander Danny Lee who claimed top spot with two titles at the Western Amateur Championship in Michigan. The Western Amateur Championship is regarded as one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in the world and the 18-year-old from Tauranga will be one to watch when he later turns professional in the footsteps of his idol, Tiger Woods.

Benefit screening for shooting victim’s family
More than $13,000 was raised for the family of murdered Manurewa shopkeeper Navtej Singh at a benefit screening of the film Apron Strings at the Berkeley Cinema, Botany Downs in Manukau city this month.

The audience included members of the Singh family, the Sikh community and many other South Auckland communities.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said he had been approached by Film Commission chief executive Ruth Harley about a benefit screening because the film dealt with issues of anger, violence, grief and prejudice but ended with hope.

Mr de Bres said the event showed how communities in South Auckland were taking responsibility to address issues sparked by the tragic death of Navtej Singh.

Apron Strings is screening on general release at cinemas throughout New Zealand.

Newspaper launches Indian business awards
Indian Newslink wants to hear from Indian-owned businesses in New Zealand to highlight the contribution made by the Indian business community to the New Zealand economy.

“The Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards will honour winners in a number of categories and provide invaluable media exposure,” said Indian Newslink managing director Ravin Lal.

A panel of independent judges will assess the applications. The winners will be presented with their awards at a gala black tie dinner scheduled to be held on November 19 at Stamford Plaza in Auckland.

Mr Lal says while the Indian community has established itself as a strong and vibrant partner among businesses in New Zealand, many of its contributions go unrecognised or are obscured amidst an array of multinationals and very large companies.

Indian Newslink has taken the initiative to institute the awards to celebrate the success of our large, medium and small enterprises engaged in manufacturing, exporting, retailing and a host of other activities,” he said.

For more information, contact Ravin Lal at ravin[at]indiannewslink.co.nz.

Beijing artist presents her Kiwi garden
A visiting Chinese artist will begin exhibiting the result of her two-month residency in Wellington at Massey University this week.

Ding Jie says the multimedia installation is an evocative meditation on her take of the New Zealand identity.

Viewers are invited to experience her Kiwi Garden in the Engine Room Gallery at Massey University’s Wellington campus from August 22 until September 22. The gallery’s opening hours are from Wednesday to Saturday, 12 pm- 4 pm.

Ding Jie’s residency is supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Wellington City Council, the Bolton St Residency and Massey University School of Fine Arts.

Read more about Ding Jie on our website at http://www.asianz.org.nz/culture/wareartistinresidence

Sculpture to mark an act of infamy
“Once regarded at the most notorious slum area in New Zealand,” Wellington historian Lynette Shum notes, “Haining Street today is an industrial area that bears little indication of its sensationalist past.”

As the centre of Wellington’s Chinatown from the late 1800s-1940s, the street also bore witness to the one of the most violent episodes in Chinese New Zealand history when Englishman Lionel Terry shot dead Joe Kum Yung in Haining St in 1905.

Wellington artist Kah Bee Chow has created a One Day Sculpture project – Golden Slumbers – as an imagined narrative of the murdered man Joe Kum Yung’s afterlife.

Discover more about the history of the project at http://www.asianz.org.nz/culture/inthelimelight/goldenslumbers.
Golden Slumbers can be viewed on Sunday August 31 from 9 am-9 pm at 10 Haining St, Wellington.


Two billion watch Olympic opening ceremony
An estimated two billion people watched the Olympic opening ceremony, according to the global market research company Nielsen.

Nielsen says the figure is based on television audience data collected from 38 countries and regions. It estimates almost one third of the world's population watched the event on August 8/9.

The highest audience reach was in Asia-Pacific where more than 50 percent watched the opening ceremony, followed by Europe (30 percent) and North America (24 percent).

In New Zealand, 20 percent of all people watched the opening ceremony. Lower numbers of people were reported in countries such as Indonesia (8 percent) and Argentina (11 percent) but viewing levels were impressive in the United States where it is estimated that 65 million people tuned in.

Tribute to Henry Chan 1937-2008
It is with sadness that we note the passing of internationally renowned historian Henry Chan. As well as being a gifted academic, Mr Chan was a tireless campaigner for the equal recognition of Chinese Australians and likewise Chinese New Zealanders.

Although based in NSW, he was awarded a fellowship at the National Library in Wellington in 2004 where he studied Chinese immigration to New Zealand.

The result was a book called Zengcheng New Zealanders, published in 2006 Zengcheng is the name of the county in Guangdong where many of New Zealand Chinese settler families trace their origins from.

The Sydney Morning Herald said in its tribute: “Henry Chan knew and loved both Australia and New Zealand, and was passionate about his Chinese ancestry. It bothered him that someone might imagine there was something inconsistent about the mixture, and he spent much of his life showing there was not.”

It also noted he contributed to “virtually almost every important event and institutional initiative in Chinese-Australian studies over the past two decades”.

“Through these activities, he helped to remake the field and, in his own way, to refashion Australia into the land he always imagined it to be: one in which the values he cherished as an Australian were seen as part of a common human heritage rather than the sole legacy of an Anglo-Saxon elite.”



The next Asia:NZ media newsletter will be available in September. The views expressed by various contributors to the newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asia New Zealand Foundation. If you are interested in contributing to the newsletter, contact Asia New Zealand Foundation media adviser Charles Mabbett at cmabbett[at]asianz.org.nz.


Articles may be reprinted with acknowledgement of Asia New Zealand Foundation


ENDS

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