Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Climate change, environmental journalism and better media ethics

Pacific Media Watch editor Alistar Kata interviewing Kiribati Independent editor Taberannang Korauaba
about his climate change research in Micronesia at last night's seminar. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC
FIVE YEARS ago, as an environmental journalist and journalism educator, I attended “Oceans, Islands and Skies” – the Oceanic Conference of Creativity and Climate Change – at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

I found this a very moving, stimulating and inspiring experience. Until then, I had largely worked on the global and Pacific political dimensions of climate change.

There Once Was An Island
At that conference I found myself thrust among a tremendously talented group of people from all over the globe. And it was where I first encountered Briar March’s remarkable documentary There Once Was An Island: Te Henua e Nnoho about the plight of the people of Takuu, a tiny Polynesian atoll in Papua New Guinea, also known as Takuu Mortlock.

The islanders were confronted with the harsh reality of rising seas and climate change and were forced to make a decision about whether to abandon their traditional Pacific homeland for the coast of Bougainville. (They were divided, some left for Bougainville - mostly younger people, others stayed).

In many ways this is an iconic storytelling of the reality of climate change told by the islanders themselves.

Monday, March 9, 2015

New e-media programme - Manning and Hager on NZ's Pacific spy 'arrogance'

LIVE NOW on Evening Report .... journalist and ER founder Selwyn Manning talks to investigative journalist Nicky Hager about New Zealand "full-take collection" spying on New Zealand's Pacific neighbours. was launched tonight with the Hager interview on the Snowden Revelations.

Earlier Café Pacific blog posting today - From a coconet spy tempest to TPPA secrecy
Pacific Media Watch/The Intercept report - NZ spies on Pacific neighbours

Sunday, March 8, 2015

From a coconet spy tempest to TPPA secrecy

The "TPPA - no way" rally at the weekend in Auckland - one of more than a score of New Zealand cities hosting protests against the controversial proposed free trade agreement. Photo: David Robie
PACIFIC commentator Barbara Dreaver called last week’s spying on the Pacific neighbours controversy a storm in a teacup. Or perhaps it was more like a coconet tempest.

Security affairs specialist Paul Buchanan was more concerned about getting French military backs up in response. We had enough of that three decades ago this year with a certain scandalous maritime bombing.

State terrorism in fact. And Britain, the US and Australia – three of the Five Eyes club members along with New Zealand and Canada – remained so meek over that outrage.

Fairfax Pacific reporter Michael Field pointed out that with a bit more methodical spying, New Zealand would be better informed about the region instead of being caught by surprise with both the Sitiveni Rabuka and George Speight coups in 1987 and 2000 and other events.

Reliable intelligence is critical for New Zealand’s political and military responsibility to the region – “what are they expected to do for useful intelligence, Google it?”

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Improving Pacific media freedom record … but let’s get real

Pacific press freedom ... maybe not as bloody as elsewhere in the world, but vigilance still needed. Image: AFP/RSF
IT’S GREAT to get some bouquets on media freedom issues instead of brickbacks in the Pacific for a change. But let’s not get carried away. Instead of all the backslapping, what is needed is more vigilance because really it is all about more than watching this space.

Tonga did best in the latest Reporters Sans Frontières World Press Freedom Index, climbing some 19 places to 44th (yes, actually above the United States, but still below the best-paced Pacific island Samoa at 40th).

You would expect a healthy climb during the year, especially with former school teacher and public broadcaster (not to mention publisher of the pro-democracy Koe Kele’a) ‘Akilisi Pohiva finally becoming prime minister of Tonga.

This was an encouraging result in the November 2014 election following the first “democratic” election in 2010.

And it was expected that Fiji would also improve in the rankings after the “return to democracy” election in September – first since the 2006 military coup – flawed though that might be.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Samoa's 'Rochelais monster' adds beef to the French Roosters

Profile (in French) on La Rochelle captain Uino Atonio. Source: Pierre Ammiche

FORMER Samoan and New Zealand prop Uini Atonio - the man they call the "Rochelais monster" - looks set for his Six Nations debut, making the 23-man French squad for this Saturday's assignment in Paris which his coach predicts will be an emotional moment in the wake of the country's recent terrorism attacks.

The 24-year-old, born in Timaru and a former Samoan under-20 international, gained his residency eligibility last year after joining French club La Rochelle in 2011 and made his debut against Fiji in November.

Unio Atonio
He made three appearances for France in that international window and has held his favour with coach Philippe Saint-André.

He's unofficially the biggest man to pull on a French jersey. So big in fact, that they had to get a special jersey made to accommodate his 1.97-metre and 146-kilogram frame.

For comparison's sake that makes Atonio shorter than the Wallabies' Will Skelton (2.03m tall, weighing 135kg), lighter than former Wellington and Fiji prop Bill Cavubati (1.89m tall, weighing 165kg), but all-around bigger than All Blacks loosie Jerome Kaino (1.96m tall, weighing 113kg).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stop the press - a stimulating contribution to NZ media debate

A story, “Locked Up Warriors”, about the New Zealand jail culture on Al Jazeera’s East 101 series. See Tom Carnegie's story below on New Zealand journalists working at Al Jazeera. Image: Al Jazeera – Watch video.

SCOOP  has been hosting a lively series entitled The State of NZ News Media that is providing some rare insights into an industry under siege (not that you would know much about this from local publications). The short-term objective is identifying possible ways of reinventing Scoop and ensuring its future as the vital independent news service that it is.

A longer-term goal is giving New Zealand journalism an energy boost and new directions.

The State of NZ News Media
As part of the debate, some interesting pieces are coming to light on the wider issues of freeing New Zealand from the shackles of an insular and short-sighted industry. Niche media such as Scoop are essential for the country.

We need independent and vigorous media with an international outlook prepared to challenge the neo-liberal orthodoxies and prejudices, such as Australia has with the Antipodean edition of The Guardian, The Conversation, New Matilda, Crikey and others.

Alison McCulloch's provocative piece is a particularly good read: Stop the Press - is corporate media a flawed product? It is, of course. But Alison's argument concludes with her own personal response and suggestions about what to do:
I appreciate absenting myself from daily corporate churnalism isn’t going to bring about a media revolution. But the structural problems run so deep, this profit-making media monster simply can’t be fixed with a little tweaking about the edges.

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