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NZ: Tapu Misa Slams 'Smug Media' Over Pacific

NZ: Tapu Misa Slams 'Smug Media' Over Pacific

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AUCKLAND (AUT Communication Studies/Pacific Media Watch). Columnist Tapu Misa has called for a stronger Pacific Islands voice in New Zealand mainstream media to provide balance in coverage of Pacific issues.

Her outspoken message came in today's inaugural edition of Auckland University of Technology's new newspaper produced by final-year student journalists, Te Waha Nui - "The Big Mouth".

The 32-page newspaper was published in a bid to boost public exposure of the students' news and feature reports.

Student journalists provided a three-page special report on the recent Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) conference in Auckland.

Te Waha Nui quoted Misa, an independent Pacific journalist who writes a popular weekly column for the New Zealand Herald, under the headline "Misa slams 'smug media'" as saying:

"The number of brown journalists in the mainstream media nowhere near reflects our numbers in New Zealand society."

She said many Pacific Islanders in the mainstream media got tired of pushing their cultural views and were worn down by resistance from colleagues and bosses.

"Some of us decided it was easier just to conform and do mainstream stories because we wanted to prove that we could do it.

"And some of us just left the industry."

Misa agreed with Mana Maori Media head Gary Wilson when he said that mainstream media were too ignorant and self-satisfied over coverage of Maori and Pacific issues.

"The mainstream media has continued to believe that its piddly efforts - in recruiting Maori and Pacific staff, and in its inclusion of Maori and Pacific content - has been good enough," Misa said.

"As we've often seen, with a few notable exceptions, even when the mainstream media covers our issues, it has tended to do a poor job."

To solve this problem, Misa said mainstream media needed to make more of an effort to recruit and keep Maori and Pacific Islanders in journalism.

"When I look over my shoulder, I don't see many other Pacific journalists clamouring to take my place at the Herald," she said.

While stressing that the Herald had given her many opportunities, Misa said the country's biggest newspaper - like so many news organisations - "simply took its mono-culturalism for granted".

This first edition of Te Waha Nui, edited by Jared Savage and a team of fellow students, published eight pages of four-colour news pictures, and included coverage of the national genetic modification controversy and special news sections on arts, business, education, health, politics, science and sport.

Supervising media lecturers Allan Lee and David Robie described the publication as a big step forward in journalism training in New Zealand.

Te Waha Nui will be a regular AUT newspaper next year and will circulate free on campus and as an inner-city community paper. It will also be distributed to media organisations.



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 based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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