Thursday, May 15, 2014

David Robie on ‘critical development journalism’

Media in Jayapura pictured in a photograph from Don't Spoil My Beautiful Face featured during a course
in "Safe Witness Journalism". Photo: West Papua Media
Media with Gavin Ellis – Radio New Zealand National

REVIEW: WHAT makes the book Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific really interesting is that it’s not just the reprinting of David Robie’s very good investigative pieces of reporting, but he weaves into it his autobiographical story and that gives context to his various pieces that he has gathered together.

A wide range of stories from the Kanak uprising of the 1980s, the Fiji coups, Moruroa - really the whole breadth of events in the Pacific over the last 30 or 40 years ...  And it’s deep journalism …

It gets rights inside the issues and shows the trust that was placed in David Robie by people who really wanted their stories told. So it is well contextualised and I think it is a real contribution to Pacific journalism by collecting it all together.

The final part of the book is about his role as a journalism educator, and also his perceptions of the way that journalism in the Pacific has developed. He has a very interesting model that he calls critical development journalism. It is a little bit like investigative journalism.

Don't Spoil My Beautiful Face
It is the sort of journalism that holds power to account. But behind it lies the need to focus on the condition of developing nations and on the ways of improving them.

And so it has a positive purpose to it even if in the process it is uncovering shortcomings, corruption - you name it.

And I think this is the sort of journalism that David Robie stands for and tries to educate others to provide. Where the purpose of it is a higher purpose than simply revealing what’s gone wrong. A very good book. I recommend it.

This is an excerpt from the Gavin Ellis media segment on Radio New Zealand National’s Nine to Noon show. Dr Gavin Ellis is a media commentator and researcher. He is a former editor-in-chief of The New Zealand Herald and was recipient of the British Commonwealth Astor Press Freedom Award in 2005. He is the author of Trust Ownership and the Future of News: Media Moguls and White Knights to be published in London in June.

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