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MADANG, Papua New Guinea (April 30, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---Good, timely, accurate crisis reporting can save Pacific Islanders lives, some of the region's leading news executives and trainers heard yesterday.

Father Jan Czuba, president of Divine Word University, spoke of the importance of such reporting as he opened a regional Training the Trainers in Crisis Reporting workshop.

There also needs to be more emphasis paid to the impact of trauma on journalists, Father Jan said as he praised the workshop program.

The six-day workshop is being held on the university's campus in Madang, northern Papua New Guinea, with participants from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, and Tonga.

It has been organized by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), with support from Divine Word University and the Papua New Guinea Media Council, and funded by the AusAID Pacific Media Initiative.

The workshop is PINA's main regional event marking World Press Freedom Day, celebrated around the world this Friday.

World Press Freedom Day 2002 has the theme of Terrorism and the Media.

The visiting news executives and trainers will also take part in the World Press Freedom Day activities on the Divine Word campus on Friday, organized by the journalism students.

Father Jan is a Polish priest and ran an underground newspaper when Poland was under Communist rule, workshop participants heard.

He said he hopes to see crisis reporting training included in Divine Word University's own journalism curriculum. The university's Communication Arts Department offers a four-year degree in journalism and a two-year diploma.

Department head Joe Weber said the workshop will bring lasting benefits, as participants will go away with a manual they had developed.

This will enable such training to be developed throughout the region, at the regional, national and newsroom levels.

He stressed the importance of doing more than just reporting a crisis.

Journalists need to also look at the bigger picture -- the context and consequences -- and to be more reflective, he said.

PINA President Johnson Honimae, one of the trainers conducting the workshop, said the program is a result of recommendations from last October's PINA convention in Madang.

He said PINA is stressing the training of trainers and developing resource material so there is continuing training in the region by people from the region.

He also praised the support for regional news media development by organizations such as the AusAID Pacific Media Initiative.

The AusAID Pacific Media Initiative trainer for the workshop is Phil Kafcaloudes, a top radio and TV journalist and trainer from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Kafcaloudes developed the ABC's Disaster Reporting course and manual. This was done just after the Aitape tsunami tragedy in Papua New Guinea in 1998. Its reportage played a big role in the ABC course.

Kafcaloudes was recently awarded a Churchill Fellowship to do international research on training journalists in reporting disasters and crises.

He is currently working at ABC Newsradio as a national producer and presenter.

He has conducted training in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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