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American Samoa’s 93 KHJ News Director Monica Miller signed off one of her posts on Pacific Island Journalism Online the other day with something that really got my attention.

The uncertain future of the next generation of Pacific Island journalists.
It got my attention as I think there’s an issue here that needs to be addressed: The need to push for more young Pacific Islanders to take up journalism.

I highlighted the fact that out of my 25 Whitireia Polytechnic journalism classmates only two others were Pacific Islanders.
Hinano Andrews and Charlina Tone.

I’m yet to take a look at the numbers of Pacific Islanders enrolled in the country’s other Journalism Schools.

In Samoa despite the turnout of between 15 and 20 students from the local Polytechnic with Diplomas in Journalism each year only a handful actually move on to work in the media outlets.

Local papers, radio stations, broadcasters are always scractching around for newcomers.
The situation in neighbouring American Samoa is similar.

Mrs Miller says that as more and more media outlets open up, the competition for journalists will improve working conditions and benefits for those who practice the trade.
So there’s a need to attract more to study journalism, then there’s the need to have the benefits in place to keep them pracitsing the trade.

Pushing them in the right direction at the moment however would be to encourage them to take up journalism studies.
Then to push them in the direction where there are funds available to make this happen.

Whitireia’s projects for 2008 included the recruitment of Maori and pacific Island Journalism students.
This included the Tertiary Education Commission providing Whitireia with skills enhancement funding for up to 10 Maori and Pacific Island journalism students.

Other scholarships are available under the New Zealand short term training awards:
http://www.nzaid.govt.nz/scholarships/training-awards.html//
Maybe there is also the need to create more funding for scholarships on a regional basis.

Media consultant Alfred Sasako, journalist and former parliamentarian in Solomon Islands says that when he is in Honiara he is hounded each time by young people wanting to take up journalism studies.
That’s a good sign, at least for Solomon Islands.

The government agency Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) has just given the green light to a new one year level 7 Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism.

Anyone interested will be able to find more in the 2009 School of Communications Studies Handbook and AUT calender for 2009/10.

Enrollments for the programme begin next month.

A note in the announcement many would have taken to was the fact that a Pacific programme leader is being recruited to teach the new course.

I’m looking forward to hearing the announcement of the Pacific programme leader.

No doubt this person will have an influence on the interested applicants and hopefully it’s someone all will feel comfortable with teaching the programme.

As far back as I can remember every senior reporter/ editor I’ve come across has always pushed hard when it come to getting the facts right.

I’ve had the pleasure of training under Peter Lomas when he was the Training and Development Editor of Samoa Observer and he said it right when he told me: “Never assume, it only makes an ass of u and me”

His break down of assume constantly haunts me to the point where I’m even asking people with names like David -is that D-a-v-i-d?

Yesterday I came across an interesting piece from Kalafi Moala, publisher of Taimi ‘o Tonga in reply to a story by Kathy Marks of the United Kingdom’s Independent.

Mr Moala claims that after interviewing him for half an hour Ms Marks has gone off and written an article full of inaccuracy.

He’s even suggesting defamation.

I’m just picking up on his comments on being misquoted from his letter though, I guess parachute journalism when I get to know more about it is another blog all together.

PARACHUTE JOURNALISM – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH*

*Kalafi Moala, publisher of Taimi ‘o Tonga, replies to an
*Independent*article on July 22 by Kathy Marks – “The last king of Tonga?”

www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/the-last-king-of-tonga-8...


NUKU’ALOFA (*Pacific Media Watch*)

Earlier this month in the Pacific Island kingdom of Tonga,

a middle-aged looking woman by the name of Kathy Marks
arrived at my home in Kolomotu’a in a red taxi.

She had called a week earlier to say she was a journalist

from the United Kingdom with the *
Independent* newspaper; and she wanted to talk to me.
The 30-minute interview we had seemed like an hour.

As I have done many times before with visiting journalists,

I understood the interview’s purpose to be simply

familiarise her with what was going on in Tonga – background
information.
She wanted to know about the king, Siaosi Tupou V,

who is being crowned this week in Tonga.

Obviously he is the subject of great interest.
Ms Marks remarked that she had not been to Tonga before,

and that she was leaving “the day after tomorrow.”

She was not even going to be here during coronation week.
A couple of days after talking with Ms Marks,

a friend sent me the article she had written on Tonga.

It was titled “The last king of Tonga?”
The line she took in her article was definitely one of being anti-monarchy,
and especially the Tongan monarchy.

That did not bother me much, for foreign journalists have had

their fair share of negative obsession with the Tongan monarch.
What bothered me greatly were the gross inaccuracies in Ms Marks’ article,

which proved the Pacific-wide sentiment against whirlwind, parachutejournalists.

These are the journalists who fly into a place with their

knowledge limited to the biased writings of other fellow parachute
journalists, and they talk to a few locals to try and confirm that bias.

Ms Marks quoted me as saying that “when I visited,

he (the king) made a cupof tea for us.”
Firstly, I have no idea where Ms Marks got that quotation.

Not only is this false, but quite insulting particularly in our Tongan culture.

Imagine the king making tea for me, a commoner?
Secondly, I have never visited the king, and the king has never “made teafor us”
Ms Marks did not misquote me. She simply made that one up.
There are other inaccuracies in her story.

She said “the king is unpopular with his

subjects because of his refusal to live in the Palace.”
Are you kidding?

If the king is as unpopular as Ms Marks claims,

it has nothing to do with living (or not living) in the Palace.

I do not know of anyone in Tonga that thinks this way,

and as a journalist for 20 years in Tonga,

I have not once heard this ridiculous claim.
Ms Marks also claims that “revolution is in the air”

at this time of the coronation.

It is hard for me to think that Ms Marks is talking about Tonga.

She did talk to Pro-democracy leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva, whom Ms Marks claims
to have been “twice imprisoned by the Royal family.” I was imprisoned in
1996 with Pohiva once for 26 days.

The imprisonment was not by the Royal family. It was a decision by Tonga’s
Parliament that the judiciary later ordered to be reversed. The Royal family
can imprison no one in Tonga. We do have an independent judiciary, j

ust likethey have in the United Kingdom.
A libellous attack by Ms Marks on the current king alleges that the king
“uses state assets to fund his jet-set lifestyle.” She did not give any
details what state assets the king was using, but it is my view that legal
action should be taken against Ms Marks and *The Independent* for
defamation.

Lastly, the article claims that Tonga is a “highly traditional and Catholic
Society.” Tonga is a largely Free Wesleyan Society, has been for almost 200
years, even though the fastest growing church in Tonga now is the Mormon
Church. Where did Ms Marks get her information that Tonga was Catholic?
The average Tongan who reads an article such as was written by Ms Marks
would just simply shrug it off and go on unaffected. But, enough is enough
with ignorant and demeaning parachute journalists, who fly into the Pacific
uninformed and fly out misinformed.
The least Ms Marks and the *Independent* should do is to apologise for the
inaccuracies and correct them. On the eve of our king’s coronation, a UK
journalist has made the most defaming remarks about the king and his island
kingdom. Our king and nation has not only suffered unreasonably, but so has
truth.

I’ve already set aside October 3 in my planner and if you’re interested in Pacific Islands Media you should too.

It’s the date of this year’s Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) annual conference in Auckland.

The hot topic at this year’s conference shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone whose been following the online discussions in several Pacific Island web rooms.

Pacific Media Networks announcement in June that it was reconstructing has hit a sour note with many.
One web room however has gone beyond sour.

Reading some of the comments posted lately by people using pseudonyms makes me cringe.

For one, pseudonyms in several cases are a means of someone raving and ranting to the point of defaming without putting their name to their allegations/ accusations.

Secondly, our Journalism class at Whitireia have just begun our sessions on media law under the guidance of our tutor Jim Tucker and from what I’ve learnt already these comments are fully loaded.

Maybe it’s also a sign that there’s a desperate need for change.

One change at the moment, is the need to focus more on the positive and beneficial aspects of the new digital tools at our hands.

Also the use of the web to enhance reporting on issues relating to Pacific Islanders.

That’s just one of the several benefits of Whitireia’s J schools current National Diploma in Journalism (Multi-media).

PIMA has already recognised this need when it chose “Pasifika In the Digital Era” as the theme for last years conference.
This is what they had to say about the ‘digital era’ on their website http://www.pima.org.nz

The conference theme acknowledges the role digital technology is playing in re-shaping how we as Pasifika people receive and create media messages.

It’s a highly pertinent topic given the relative youth of our Pasifika community and the fact that in this fast-moving, text-driven, Bebo-fueled era information literally moves at lightning speed. How do we keep up.

I like the way the statement ends- How do we keep up?

A good start would be to stop attacking each other while using pseudonyms and start some constructed blogging.