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Thursday, May 1, 1997

A project to improve both the quantity and quality of Pacific Islands news coverage by U.S. media is being organized in Honolulu by the American Friends Service Committee Pacific Program.

Project director is Samoan Kilali Ala'ilima, AFSC Pacific Program Coordinator, assisted by University of Hawaii Ph.D. student from Palau, Richard Salvador.

Among the goals of the media project are to raise public awareness and understanding of the Pacific Islands region throughout the United States, beginning with Hawaii.

Ala'ilima says the U.S. mainstream media tend to overlook the vast Pacific Islands region in their coverage of international news, focusing instead on Pacific Rim countries and Europe. They do this, she says, despite the fact that newsworthy events of major significance are taking place.

Even in Hawaii, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and where Pacific Islands countries are closer than other nations, she adds, such issues as the Bougainville civil war, Fiji's racially-weighted constitution, and the remaining effects of nuclear testing in the Pacific, are given little attention by the Honolulu daily newspapers and television stations.

The American Friends Service Committee project will involve community focus groups, student interns, reporters already covering Pacific news, and noted Pacific peoples in developing strategies to expand and assure more in-depth media coverage of Pacific Basin events, issues, and ideas, both in Hawaii and throughout the United States.

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