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1. Harlyne Joku shows the growing reach of PINA Nius Online news and features.

2. PINA national associations develop handbook to strengthen work.

3. PINA president Parkinson to national associations: Your role is crucial.

4. PNG’s Divine Word University journalism students study environmental threats.

5. Asia-Pacific environmental journalists plan training institute.

6. The trainer trapped in the Fiji coup, and the one that got away.

7. Tabai’s Kiribati New Star seeks help from PINA.

8. Fiji PM Qarase launches new Hindi paper, outlines views on media role.

9. Extra, extra! Malifas’ award-winning Samoa Observer now six days a week.


1. Harlyne Joku shows the growing reach of PINA Nius Online news and features

Suva (PINA Nius Online) - The assignment: Bali, Indonesia. The task: Provide reports on the world’s most important coral reef conference. The audience for these reports: readers, listeners and viewers of newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV stations across the vast Pacific Islands region.

Not a problem for Harlyne Joku and PINA Nius Online.

Ms. Joku, a senior journalist for Papua New Guinea’s The National newspaper, has just returned to her newsroom in Port Moresby. She spent seven days in Bali busily covering the International Coral Reefs Symposium there for PINA Nius Online.

PINA Nius Online is the regional Pacific Islands News Association’s growing daily news service for the news media throughout the region.

"Some newspapers now have special pages of regional news as a result of PINA Nius Online," said its editor, Nina Ratulele, from the Fiji Islands."

"For example, one of the papers here in Suva even started a special section to run Harlyne’s reports from the International Coral Reef Symposium."

Ms. Joku’s daily features from Bali were sent to and used by PINA member newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV stations across 21 Pacific Islands countries and territories.

Said Ms. Ratulele: "This meant all the people of the region got access to the important news about our reefs coming out of Bali... not just the scientists, academics and environmental organisations who were there as delegates."

Ms. Joku’s reports included the latest details of threats to coral reefs from climate change, a major issue in the Pacific Islands.

Ms. Joku won a fellowship to go to Bali to provide the coverage. The fellowship came from the World Resources Institute, of Washington, a partner of PINA’s Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists. It was awarded to Ms. Joku after a region-wide competition organised by PINA PFEJ.

This was no big surprise. Ms. Joku is an experienced environmental journalist. She studied environmental journalism in the United States on a fellowship to the graduate school of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, awarded through PINA.

Her coverage from Bali was just one example of the growing reach of PINA Nius Online.

PINA Nius Online is a result of a decision by the members of PINA, the professional association of the region’s news media. They agreed to cooperate in improving news flow and news exchange amongst the Pacific Islands.

PINA Nius Online was developed with support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), and its Regional Communication Adviser.

"What has really made it easier to do is using the Internet," said Ms Ratulele. "Communication is so much easier and cheaper."

PINA members in island nations big and small agreed to contribute news. From this PINA Nius Online news bulletins are put together each day at the PINA Secretariat in Suva, Fiji. Then they are sent out by e-mail to PINA member newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations, big and small. They also go to PINA’s development partners.

PINA Nius Online puts a special emphasis on Pacific Islands’ development issues, including the environment, health, women and children, population, agriculture and fisheries, and governance.

"We want to go beyond just politicians saying one thing one day, saying something else the next," Ms. Ratulele said. "Or simple crime and accident reports. We try to focus on issues that really have a meaning, that really mean something to Pacific Islands’ people’s lives.

News of international development issues relevant to Pacific Islands is included through a partnership with Inter Press Service (IPS), the international agency specialising in developing world issues.

PINA Nius Online also fully covers Pacific Islands breaking news and businesses.

Recently it has been at the forefront of coverage of the ethnic conflict in Solomons Islands and the coup crisis in Fiji.

"We provide Pacific Islands news from a Pacific Islands perspective," said Ms. Ratulele, who is also PINA’s administrator in charge of the PINA Secretariat. "It is news written by Pacific Islanders for Pacific Islanders.

"For example, in the Solomons conflict our daily reports were coming from on the ground in the Solomons from senior journalists of Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation and the Solomon Star.

"During the Fiji coup we had access to reports from all the Fiji daily news media - The Fiji Times, Daily Post, Fiji Sun, Communications Fiji Limited and Radio Fiji stations, and Fiji Television.

"They were the reporters who were out in the front lines covering the crisis right from the beginning, every day, all over Fiji. These are my true heroes of the coverage of the coup."

Emphasises editor Ratulele: "This is news about the Pacific, for the Pacific and by the Pacific."

Nina Ratulele can be contacted at pina@is.com.fj 

2. PINA national associations develop handbook to strengthen work.

Suva (PINA Nius Online) - Development of Pacific Islands national associations of media practitioners has been boosted with the production of a how-to-do-it handbook.

The Pacific Islands National Media Associations Handbook was put together by leaders from national associations and community broadcasting groups which are members of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).

They produced it during an intensive regional workshop at the Fiji Mocambo Hotel, Nadi Airport, Fiji Islands.

The workshop was coordinated and hosted by the UNESCO/PINA Pacific Journalism Development Centre and funded through Australia's major media development programme, the AusAID Pacific Media Initiative.

The handbook covers issues such as:

· the roles of a national media association,

· governance of the association,

· fundraising, finance and budgeting,

· defending and developing freedom of information and expression,

· self regulation and codes of ethics and standards,

· identifying training needs and implementing training,

· serving members, and

· using the Internet for development.

The UNESCO/PINA Pacific Journalism Development Centre has run a series of workshops to help PINA national association members strengthen their role and work in their own countries.

The handbook was finalised by an editorial committee of:

- Jason Brown (Cook Islands Media Association),

- Justin Kili (Papua New Guinea Media Council),

- Julian Maka’a (Media Association of Solomon Islands), and

- Nina Ratulele (Pacific Islands News Association).

Other contributors are: Said Husain (Nadi Community TV), Johnety Jerette (Pres Klab Blong Vanuatu), Taina Kami-Enoka (Tonga News Association), Seini Lakai (PINA), Stevenson Liu (Pres Klab blong Vanuatu), Peter Lomas (UNESCO/PINA Pacific Journalism Development Centre coordinator), Vatili Naduaono (Koula FM), Rita Narayan (Fiji Islands Media Association), William Parkinson (PINA president), Biu Philips Fiona (Nadi Community TV), George Pitt (Media Group Cook Islands), Afamasaga Tovaega Afamasaga (Journalists Association of Western Samoa), Alisi Tuqa (Fiji Media Watch), Steven Vete (UNAIDS) and Ron Wilkinson (AusAID consultant).

The UNESCO/PINA Pacific Journalism Development Centre) also plans to put the handbook on its website. This is so it can be constantly updated and provide a continuing resource for all PINA’s national association and community broadcasting members.

3. PINA president Parkinson to national associations. Your role is crucial.

Nadi (PINA Nius Online) - National media associations from throughout the South Pacific meeting at Nadi got the message: Go home and strengthen your work in your countries. It is very important for both your news media and your country.

The call came from Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) president William Parkinson as he opened a Developing The National Media Associations workshop at the Fiji Mocambo Hotel, Nadi Airport.

Mr. Parkinson, founder of the Communications Fiji Limited group of radio stations, stressed the part the national associations should play in their own countries:

- Being eternally vigilant defending and promoting media freedom, and in turn the right of the people of their countries to freedom of information and expression;

- Developing professional standards in their own countries, so journalists earn the respect of the people and not the derision;

- Promoting self-accountability amongst their news media, so it is not imposed on them by others.

Mr. Parkinson emphasised the key role news media play across the Pacific Islands because of breakdowns in good governance.

In many countries "the grassroots people have developed a very cynical notion of those in power," he said. "They have turned to the media increasingly to act on their behalf and hold those in power accountable."

The Developing the National Media Associations workshop is part of continuing efforts by PINA to help strengthen the national associations and their work.

It is the second such regional workshop funded and supported by Australia’s major Pacific Islands media development programme, the AusAID Pacific Media Initiative.

It was coordinated by the UNESCO/PINA Pacific Journalism Development Centre and conducted by AusAID consultant Ron Wilkinson and PINA trainer Justin Kili, of Papua New Guinea Media Council.

Mr. Wilkinson stressed the workshop was not to impose some foreign model. But it is to "develop the Pacific Way of doing it. The Pacific recipe.

Mr. Wilkinson is a former general manager of Radio New Zealand and has a long association with Pacific Islands’ news media development and PINA.

4. PNG’s Divine Word University journalism students study environmental threats.

Madang (PINA Nius Online) - Journalism students have examined threats to Papua New Guinea’s environment and learnt to write well-researched and informative articles about these.

A weeklong workshop on reporting environmental issues was held for students in the Communication Arts Department at Divine Word University in Madang.

Environmental scientists, conservationists, mining companies and provincial government officials gave the students detailed briefings on environmental issues confronting PNG today.

The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists also provided help.

Harlyne Joku, senior reporter of The National and a longtime environmental reporter, described her own experiences and offered advice on how to research and write environmental reports.

Officials and scientists working for leading mining and resource companies discussed their companies and environmental concerns about their operations.

The impact of logging and threats to the marine environment were discussed with officials from the World Wide Fund for Nature and The Nature Conservancy.

Journalism lecturer Kevin Pamba said the aim of the workshop was to expose students to the complexities of environmental issues and the range of differing opinions about them.

"It is also aimed giving students useful advice on how to write well-researched stories about the environment," he said.

"Journalism students, as future reporters, need a detailed understanding of these issues," he said.

Head of the Divine Word University Communication Arts Department, Joe Weber, said it is the job of the media to provide people with accurate and detailed information about environmental issues.

He said the media needed to provide information not only about the problems but also about possible solutions to them.

The UNESCO/PINA Pacific Journalism Centre and PINA Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists have also provided help to students at the University of the South Pacific in Suva.

They provided fellowships to enable USP journalism students to attend the joint Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental and Commonwealth Environmental Journalists Congress at Nadi hosted by PINA PFEJ.

5. Asia-Pacific environmental journalists plan training institute.

Suva (PINA Nius Online) - An international training institute for environmental journalists is to be set up by the Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists (APFEJ).

APFEJ, at a meeting in Kitakyushu, Japan, decided to set up the institute in the region. The proposed Institute will come into operation during 2001 and it will be open to environment journalists of developing countries, APFEJ decided.

APFEJ chairperson Dharman Wickremaratne, of Sri Lanka, said that the proposed training institute was in line with the Kitakyushu Declaration of the Environmental Journalists to evaluate the work of environment journalists.

The Kitakyushu meeting followed the successful joint Asia-Pacific and Commonwealth environmental journalism congress held at Nadi, Fiji, in July.

It was organised and hosted by the PINA Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists and the UNESCO/PINA Pacific Journalism Development Centre.

A declaration issued by the Kitakyushu City meeting called upon Asia-Pacific governments to recognise the watchdog role of environmental journalists "in establishing an accountable, corruption free, transparent and good environment governance."

Governments were urged to "provide help with training facilities such as installation of information technology accessories, computers and libraries" to upgrade their professional skills and capacities to promote sustainable development."

The declaration expressed "serious concern over the continued environment degradation in most parts of the region even after eight years of Rio convention on the environment." It also drew the attention of governments to the "non-implementation" of most of the decisions of the UN-ESCAP Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development held five years ago in Bangkok.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) sponsored APFEJ symposium was organised jointly by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), APFEJ, Government of Japan and the Japan Forum of Environmental Journalists (JFEJ).

The declaration issued on the final day stressed the "importance of media in bringing any positive change and achieving sustainable development." The declaration also drew the attention of Asia-Pacific governments to the fact that "any development activity carried out by the governments, NGOs, bilateral or multilateral organisations would have no impact, unless the people are aware of it." It is here that the media plays its "important role," states the declaration.

The declaration called upon ministers holding the environment portfolio to support "media initiatives" and to "ensure easy access to vital environmental information," in promoting sustainable development in their respective countries.

6. The trainer trapped in the Fiji coup, and the one that got away.

International trainers from The Thomson Foundation working with the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) had interesting moments during the region’s recent coups, according to the latest edition of Scope.

Scope, The Thomson Foundation newsletter, reports how:

- Trainer Charles Stokes was running editing and design training at The Fiji Times in Suva on the day armed indigenous Fijian rebels seized parliament. They took the country’s first ethnic Indian prime minister and his government hostage. Indian shops and restaurants in downtown Suva were looted and burned in unrest, which followed.

- Trainer Grant Milburn went ahead with newspaper management training in Solomon Islands despite increasing ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal, the island on which the capital, Honiara, is located. Milburn flew out of Honiara just before one of the rival militia forces and elements of the country’s paramilitary police seized Honiara and forced the resignation of the prime minister.

Scope reports:

"Stokes had finished his work with the Post and the Sun, and was working at the offices of the Fiji Times on the day the coup occurred."

"After a rebel group had seized Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and other parliamentarians... mobs took to the streets of the capital."

"Stokes said: "They were pillaging, looting, and setting fire to shops about 300 yards from the newspaper office, but fortunately it did not occur to them to come in our building."

"Stokes... was smuggled in a van out of the office and through the mobs back to his hotel, where he remained behind locked gates for the next three days.

"As the security situation showed no sign of improving (and it was to be a further eight weeks before the political hostages were freed) Stokes’ hosts in Fiji, the Pacific Islands News Association, evacuated him to the quieter, west side of the island where he stayed at a holiday resort until he could catch a plane home."

Meanwhile, Milburn was flying out of Honiara in the Solomon Islands just before the coup there after running successful Thomson Foundation/PINA newspaper management training in Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands.

Milburn has been chief editor and top manager of provincial newspaper groups in Britain and is now a regular Thomson Foundation management trainer.

Milburn escaped the experience of a colleague who was in the Solomon Islands last year doing Thomson Foundation/PINA business and economic reporting training. The trainer was amongst journalists briefly held by Solomon’s militiamen before the timely arrival of the Commonwealth special envoy, former Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka. He negotiated their release.

The Thomson Foundation, with its headquarters in Cardiff, Wales, is one of the main training organisations for the news media of the developing world.

PINA and The Thomson Foundation have worked closely in Pacific Islands’ news media training and development.

7. Tabai’s Kiribati New Star looks to PINA for help.

Suva (PINA Nius Online) - It is fitting that New Star, Kiribati’s new independent newspaper, was officially launched during media freedom week 2000.

"It all started out of the basic belief that you can’t have democracy without an independent, private media," says former Kiribati president and co-owner of New Star, Ieremia Tabai.

"Despite the good intentions of government, you need the independent paper."

New Star, a 16-page newspaper, publishes weekly on Friday in direct competition with the government-owned Te Uekera.

The paper is predominantly in Gilbertese; Tabai says that the 84,000 people of this central Pacific atoll nation are more interested in reading news in their own language.

Tabai was in Fiji recently for meetings with the regional Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). PINA has issued several IFEX (International Freedom of Expression Exchange) alerts on the problems Tabai’s efforts to develop non-government news media have had. Tabai believes it is important for his journalists to attend PINA media training in the region, and for the independent media to be fully supported.

New Star is also distributing to the outer islands. Tabai says that reaching people in the islands was a priority, as people throughout the country - not simply on the main atoll, Tarawa - are interested in the news.

"They don’t like the competition," he said, pointing what he perceives to be government’s moves to block the establishment of New Air, Kiribati first independent radio station.

"I am on the wrong side of politics," said Tabai, now a member of the opposition. With the radio station stalled, the company launched the newspaper in order to get the independent media off the ground. They also have immediate plans to establish a website. Says Tabai: "We are aware of the need to be more modern in today's media world.

Tabai decided he wanted to set up the radio and paper after retiring as secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, which links the independent nations of the Pacific Islands and Australia and New Zealand. He knew it was the right time in Kiribati for this move. "People are very receptive to the paper," he said.

Tabai is still waiting for the license to import the transmitter, the only piece of equipment missing to launch the FM radio station. Government, he says, has been suspiciously silent in response to his repeated letters of request. When the station is up and running it will broadcast 24 hours during the weekend and "longer hours than government radio" Monday through Friday, Tabai says.

8. Fiji PM Qarase launches new Hindi paper, outlines views on media role.

Suva (PINA Nius Online) - Fiji’s new Interim Government showed its support for the launch of a newspaper published in Fiji Hindi: Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and two of his senior ministers turned up for the launching ceremonies.

The weekly Ramneek Post is produced by Fiji’s Daily Post and is the first newspaper to use Fiji Hindi, the local version of Hindustani. It is competing with the Fiji Times Limited weekly Shanti Dut, which uses Hindustani.

Prime Minister Qarase was accompanied to the launching ceremony at the Daily Post offices in central Suva by Minister for Information and Communication Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and Minister for Public Enterprise and Public Sector Reform Hector Hatch.

Mr. Qarase spoke of the role of the media in the rebuilding now underway following the crisis sparked by the May 19 coup by armed indigenous Fijian rebels, who took hostage the country’s first ethnic Indian prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

Mr. Qarase said: "I am a great believer in the freedom of free expression, including the freedom of media organisations. I strongly believe that the media has a very important role in the development of our country.

"This role is doubly important now, especially when there is no Parliament to keep and maintain a watchful eye on Government. The people look to you, as the Fourth Estate, to be the vehicle through which to articulate and express their views, their concerns and their needs to those in authority."

Daily Post publisher and general manager Ranjit Singh told the launching ceremony that as well as starting Ramneek Post the company has revamped its Fijian-language paper Volasiga.

"Their respective editors Tej Ram Prem and Maika Bolatiki have heavy burdens and responsibilities on their shoulders. This is because among other things the objective of these papers is to promote cross-cultural understanding.

"We intend to reserve at least a page weekly in both the papers for this purpose. This is a good start for building the bridges and the reconciliatory process.

9. Extra, extra! Malifa’s award-winning Samoa Observer now six days a week.

Apia (PINA Nius Online) – Samoa’s award-winning five-days-a-week newspaper, the Samoa Observer, now has a sixth edition - the Saturday Morning Observer.

It continues the popular success of the Samoa Observer. The newspaper was launched some 22 years ago by journalist and poet Savea Sano Malifa with just a basic typewriter, a kitchen table, and an unflinching determination to bring the people all the news. It began publishing weekly and competing with the then dominant but now deceased Samoa Times.

The Observer’s owners, publisher-editor Malifa and business manager, partner and wife Jean Malifa, along the way survived tough times. They never gave up despite death threats, an assassination plot, assaults, the burning down of their new building and printing press, high-cost legal actions, and government advertising boycotts.

These were the result of their continuing refusal to bow to efforts to stop them publishing allegations of corruption involving some of those then in positions of power in Samoa.

Their courageous efforts to promote and defend freedom of information and expression have been recognised with the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Pacific Freedom of Information award, the Commonwealth Press Union’s Astor award, and the International Freedom of the Press Award of the Index on Censorship. It culminated in Boston, USA, this year when the International Press Institute named Malifa one of the 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years.

Announcing the addition of the Saturday edition, the Observer said: "Our philosophy is to ‘observe’ and report news, current affairs and touch issues involving our nation and people as they happen.

"We have no bias towards institutions, bodies, organisations or sectors.

"We are impartial in our approach and we believe that the ‘truth’ of the ‘word’ prevails. After all, ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’ (John 8:32)."

Site to watch: Divine Word University

Divine Word University in Madang, Papua New Guinea, has a growing number of students in its two-year journalism diploma and four-year journalism degree programmes. For details visit Divine Word’s web site at http://www.dwu.ac.pg/comms/comms.html 

PINA Pacific Media Nius is a service of the UNESCO/PINA Pacific Journalism Development Centre, Suva, Fiji Islands. The centre was set up under the UNESCO IPDC/PINA project PACTRAINER.

To subscribe, unsubscribe or send suggestions, contact Peter Lomas, coordinator, UNESCO/ PINA Pacific Journalism Development Centre. Email: pinapjdc@is.com.fj  Fax: (679) 303943.

To contact the Pacific Islands News Association Secretariat, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA administrator. E-mail: pina@is.com.fj  Fax: (679) 303943. WWW: http://www.pinanius.org 

Visit the NetCenter for Asia and Pacific Media Institutes: 

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