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USP graduates hit out at magazine editorial

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SUVA: Journalism graduates and media personalities have hit out at a regional news magazine, rejecting an editorial claiming the graduates are "academic anaemics".

The graduates from the University of the South Pacific, media editors and news directors from around the region interviewed by Wansolwara editor Reggie Dutt said last month's Islands Business editorial attacking the programme was misinformed.

The editorial was summed up in the headline claim: "The trouble with today's academic training for journalists, as the USP effort is starting to show, is that it can produce not journalists but academic anaemics, far removed from the real world."

The editorial sparked off a war of words in the Fiji media between Islands Business publisher Robert Keith-Reid and USP journalism coordinator David Robie who accused the magazine of misrepresentation.

In the latest edition of Wansolwara, Verleshwar Singh, one of the first Diploma in Pacific Journalism graduates and currently special projects editor with Fiji's The Review group, said the editorial was "neither true nor accurate".

Janet David, news director of V6AH Radio in the Federated States of Micronesia, praised the "awareness, objectivity, responsibility, accountability, ethics, and more that cannot be put into words" in her time at USP.

Len Garae, editor of the Vanuatu Trading Post, said from Port Vila he was "privileged" to be working with the USP journalism programme and the students.

"We had a USP journalism student working with us over the Christmas break and she contributed a lot," Garae said.

He said the programme was specifically designed for the Pacific and graduates were better prepared for working in the region.

Richard Broadbridge, Fiji One's head of news and current affairs, said he was impressed with the standard of USP journalism students on attachment with the Fiji One News team.

Jale Moala, editor of Fiji's Daily Post said USP journalism graduates were well-trained people who were able to catch on fast.

"My business editor is a USP journalism graduate and I also have six more people from the journalism programme working at the Daily Post," he said.

Moala said he disagreed with the editorial, saying "it demeans a programme which has done really good work in training journalists so far".

In a separate "Fourth Estate" column in Wansolwara, journalism coordinator David Robie questioned the ethics and motives of the editorial, citing examples of the misrepresentations.

"It is the dinosaurs of Pacific journalism who should get to grips with the basics - facts, accuracy and balance," he said.

Last December, the USP journalism programme's two training newspapers, Wansolwara, and Spicol Daily, won two honours in the annual Ossie Awards, organised by the Journalism Education Association (JEA) for the best student journalism in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

Only two journalism training programmes in the Pacific have won awards in the competition - the University of the South Pacific (1999) and the University of Papua New Guinea (1995).


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