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USP Coordinator Calls For Critical Journalists

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SUVA (Pacific Media Watch): The Pacific region desperately needs critically thinking and ethically challenging journalists if they are to play a serious role in good governance, says a prominent Fiji-based media educator.

The Daily Post reported today that outgoing University of the South Pacific's journalism coordinator David Robie had made the comment at a farewell party at the weekend.

Robie also said in a Fiji Television news report that media organisations needed to invest more in training and pay journalists better salaries.

"One of the big problems is poor salaries, particularly at starting levels for graduates," he said.

"While this situation continues there will always be a brain drain. Good journalists who have a lot of talents go into other fields, such as public relations, where there is a lot more satisfying career path and much better pay."

The Daily Post reported that Robie, who leaves for New Zealand shortly, said Pacific journalists needed a sharper awareness of human rights, justice, fairness and balance.

Talking to journalism students, School of Humanities staff and media personalities at the farewell function, Robie said journalists needed to be prepared to be committed to universal values and in the public interest.

"Don't sell out, as so many have, to the corporate interest and the influence of commercial propaganda and the dollar," he said.

"Good journalism can make a difference."

Robie has accepted a post at Auckland University of Technology's School of Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology and is also leaving for health and family reasons.

The senior lecturer joined USP in 1998 after coordinating the journalism programme at the University of Papua New Guinea for five years.

Apart from developing the programme, Robie established the electronic daily news services Wansolwara Online and Pacific Journalism Online, as well as media and education resources for the journalism students.

Robie also developed the main newsroom at the School of Humanities and established an office for the programme's training newspaper, Wansolwara.

He recently initiated the development of a multimedia digital audio and video editing suite for the programme, which is now being developed further by broadcast lecturer Steve Sharp.

Robie won university support for a new journalism building, expected to be constructed early next year.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, and Pactok Communications, in Sydney and Port Moresby.

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