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USP Journalism Wins Ossie 'Best News Story' Award

USP Journalism wins Ossie Award for best news story

Journalism students at The University of the South Pacific (USP) won this year's Ossie Award for best news report (print section) in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

This is the second major win for USP journalism this year. In October it won the best print story and best student journalist awards at the Fiji Awards for Media Excellence.

The Ossie Award for best print news story by an undergraduate or postgraduate student went to second year students Nanise Nawalowalo and Riteshni Singh for a page one story which drew attention to the negative environmental impact of water extraction by commercial companies in Fiji.

Two other students, Vani Catanasiga and Geraldine Panapasa, received a high commendation award in the same category for their story on governance and finance at USP.

Both stories were published in the USP's student training newspaper, Wansolwara.

Judge Daniel Sankey, the Brisbane Times chief of staff, said the Nawalowalo and Singh's story entitled 'Water Extraction worries' was a deserving winner.

''Fiji Water - a favourite of Hollywood celebrities is the number two selling brand in the United States, injecting millions into the Fiji economy,'' Mr Sankey said.

"Therefore, Nanise Nawalowalo and Riteshni Singh's revelation that no agency in Fiji is monitoring the environmental impacts of the company's increasing levels of water extraction of the Yaqara Range is a story of not just national but international significance.''

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Both Singh and Nawalowalo said that the award came as a surprise because they knew they would be competing against a number of top entries from around the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.

"We knew that it was an important story because it was the first to draw attention to the potentially dire environmental consequences of an increasing in the number of bottling companies extracting an increasing amount of fresh water for commercial sale,'' said Nawalowalo.

According to Singh, the mainstream media had always looked at the story from a business, profit and employment angle while their story raised a previously unreported angle.

USP Journalism has now won around 15 awards and highly commended citations at the Journalism Education Association (JEA) Ossie Awards, widely regarded as the "Walkley Awards" of student journalism in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

Divisional head of journalism at USP, Shailendra Singh, praised the students' efforts.

He said the awards were judged by journalists and editors working in the Australian media. The judges change every year so if USP has won several awards over several years, this is indicative of a major strength in some areas, particularly the practical experience of producing a newspaper, said Singh.

He added that NZ has 11 journalism schools while Australia has 22 journalism schools and the fact that a small university journalism school from USP has consistently won awards and highly commended citations in the Ossies is an enormous tribute.


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