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Wansolwara Issue On The Pacific Media

SUVA: Agence France Presse correspondent Michael Field has blasted the "ineffectual" South Pacific Forum leadership in the wake of last month's ban on him, reporters have examined the finances of Fiji's recently evicted media industry training institute, and Pacific journalists' pay has come under scrutiny in the last edition of Wansolwara.

The online edition of the University of the South Pacific training newspaper was posted today.

Field, a New Zealand journalist who has covered forum meetings for the past decade, was barred from the last one in Kiribati after he had written unflattering reports about the country's environmental problems a year earlier.

He criticised the fact that nations hosting the annual forum could exclude journalists "it does not like".

"It is typical of the weakness of the ineffectual forum leadership that they surrender to the demands of one petulant state and continue to hold their meetings, free of scrutiny or question despite the taxpayers of the region paying for it all," he told Wansolwara reporter Donna Hoerder.

In a survey of newsroom pay scales in Fiji in the special media edition of Wansolwara, reporters found that starting journalists with qualifications get paid about half the salary of starting nurses and secondary schoolteachers.

The report also highlighted the lack of formal journalists grading structures such as exist in Australia and New Zealand.

Salesh Kumar and Nazreen Bibi reported that the Fiji Journalism Institute was in limbo over financial problems which have plagued the training body over the past few years.

Last month, the institute was evicted from its Fiji Government supplied office and a Fiji Times editorial called for the Fiji Islands Media Association to "clean up the mess".

Kumar and Bibi talked to the media personalities and the donors involved.

Jilda Shem reported on the ongoing struggle of the Vanuatu Trading Post as the independent voice of Port Vila.

Among journalists profiled in the edition are freelancer and trade unionist Tomasi Tokalauvere, who has a unique "explosive" investigative style honed from his experience in New Zealand, and Fiji Television's top reporter Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Sheryl Ho reported on the progress in the Pacific over media councils and news organisation accountability in the region.



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