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By Laisa Taga, Editor-In-Chief Islands Business Magazine

SUVA, Fiji (Nov. 6, 2002 - Islands Business/PINA Nius Online)---Have you ever wondered how, when the Pacific Islands and European Union recently signed a regional agreement in Suva, photos of this appeared in newspapers around the region?

Or why, when there are deaths in the violence on the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, it is soon on the news on your local radio station?

The answer, column readers, is the growth of regional news services. These have brought a big change to the way you get your daily news, and how quickly people within this region know what is happening in other parts of their region.

Once, if something happened in the Pacific Islands, it would first reach other Pacific Islands via radio stations or news agencies in Australia, New Zealand or France.

It would be edited and angled through the eyes of Australian, French or New Zealand editors. These far away editors were what in the news media are called the "gatekeepers." They decided what news went back to the Pacific islands, and how it was edited and presented.

If they didn’t think it was of interest the news would not reach other Pacific Islands until regional news magazines, like Islands Business, arrived in local bookshops or the mail.

Now this has all changed, with three Pacific islands-based regional news services sending the news direct from island to island each day.

There has never been so much news flow within the region. Here (in alphabetical order) is a quick guide to help you understand who these news services are and how they provide your daily news:

OCEANIA FLASH (Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva).

Oceania Flash is not strictly speaking a regionally run news service. It is run by a French editor, Patrick Decloitre, and funded by the French Government through its embassy in Suva.

But it is based at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Suva and contributes to regional news flow.

Its main role is translating news from the English-language news media of the region into French and vice versa and then distributing this. Some of the region’s English-language news media are cautious about using Oceania Flash reports.

But its translations of news from the English-speaking Pacific are valued by the French Pacific news media and in French government offices in the region and in Paris.

Main strength: Translating news from the Anglophone Pacific into French.

Main weakness: Struggles to get used regularly in major English-language news media, like the main daily newspapers.

Key person: Patrick Decloitre, editor.

PACNEWS (Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association, PIBA, Suva).

Pacnews is the oldest of the regional news services. It was launched as a news exchange between the national and government radio stations of the region.

The driving force behind setting it up in the late 1980s was Hendrik Bussiek, a radio editor from the German foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

FES was for many years the main supporter of PIBA activities, pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars a year into them, including funding Pacnews.

Germans like Bussiek worked at PIBA and had a big role in developing Pacnews. FES has now withdrawn and as a result Pacnews has become heavily dependent on selling its news service to commercial subscribers and this has become its main focus.

The Pacnews’ editor is Jese Sikivou, a Fijian who has previously worked in public relations, news media, tourism, and for the United Nations Development Program.

Pacnews has a staff of three journalists in Fiji and they sometimes travel to cover regional events. Pacnews also gets news from PIBA member radio stations, including Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand International.

Main strength: Provides full daily coverage of the routine, official, for-the-record news from across the region.

Main weakness: Lack of depth in its reports because of the radio background of Pacnews.

Key person: Jese Sikivou, editor.

PINA NIUS (Pacific Islands News Association, PINA, Suva).

PINA is the main professional association of the Pacific Islands news media, with radio and TV stations, newspapers, magazines, and online news services across the region amongst its members.

Its daily PINA Nius service was launched in 1999, developing from a feature service PINA had been running. The feature service had been started by PINA with help from UNESCO and a leading Asian news service, Depthnews.

PINA Nius now has a strong daily news focus and is the region’s first seven-days-a-week news service.

It is strongly supported by PINA¹s member radio and TV stations, newspapers and magazines and has become the regional news service used most by the region’s news media.

It is the only one of the three regularly used by all the region’s biggest daily newspapers.

PINA Nius is also carried by such international broadcasters as Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand International, who previously only used Pacnews.

Through its members PINA Nius has access to the work of leading journalists across the region.

These PINA members provide the editors in Suva most of the news reports carried by PINA Nius.

PINA also sends senior journalists from its members to cover regional and international events. Their reports then go out to all PINA members through the news service.

The driving force behind the development of PINA Nius was Nina Ratulele, who heads PINA’s regional secretariat in Suva.

The service was recently further strengthened by the appointment as managing editor of Peter Lomas, an editor with more than 30 years experience in Fiji and the region.

Lomas worked for Islands Business before moving across to working full-time at the regional association.

Main strength: Good coverage of development and economic issues as well as daily news; and strong support from PINA members throughout the region.

Main weakness: Tight staff levels.

Key person: Nina Ratulele, editor.


One news service to watch in future: The quickly growing Tahitipresse, a news service operating from Papeete, French Polynesia, and sending out news in both English and French. It is the first example of a new development, a national news service.

For additional reports from Islands Business, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Magazines/Journals/Fiji Islands Business.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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