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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.