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Don't just follow Western conflict news values, says Moala

Tongan publisher Kalafi Moala (left) with Dr Levi Obijiofor. Photo: USP/PMC

Monday, December 13, 2010

Item: 7165

Rashneel Kumar
SUVA: Pacific Island media doesn't have to follow a Western format based on reporting conflict, says Tongan newspaper publisher Kalafi Moala.

The chief executive of Tonga’s Taimi Media Network was speaking during a symposium on the "Role of media and civil society in strengthening democracy and social cohesion" at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Campus in Suva on Friday.

He said the Western media format thrived on conflict, and Pacific media copied this format when covering politics and other issues.

Moala added that media was not developed as a tool for creating peace but was a tool for creating conflicts.

“We hardly report about resolving of conflicts because we are too busy looking for the next conflict,” he said.

Moala added that foreign "parachute" media often reported inaccurately and sensationalised conflict in relation to Pacific Island countries.

“Inaccuracy is not easy to correct, and harder to correct is the agenda, hidden or otherwise, that media organisations and journalists have.”

Pacific misconception
He added that the notion that “Western media practice is the oil that drives democracy” was a misconception that was still quite prevalent among Pacific media.

“I believe in media freedom, but I also believe in media responsibility and media accuracy and commitment to truth,” he said.

“Media freedom and purpose-driven journalism are not opposed to each other. They are part and parcel of the same package.”

The symposium was convened by head of USP Journalism Shailendra Singh and senior lecturer in management at USP Dr Desmond Amosa.  It was supported by the United Nations Development Programme in Suva and USP faculties of Arts and Law and Business and Economics.

Journalists, USP academics and students, and the general public attended the event.

* Other keynote speakers  were associate professor David Robie, director of AUT University's Pacific Media Centre in New Zealand, who spoke on peace journalism and the Pacific, and Nigerian senior lecturer Dr  Levi Obijiofor at the University of Queensland.

A developing nation media specialist, Dr Obijiofor gave a case study on the Niger Delta tribal economy and conflict with multinational oil companies and Nigerian government.

A responding media panel included Fiji Times senior business journalist Elenoa Baselala, Mai Magazine editor Ricardo Morris and University of the South Pacific broadcast lecturer Nash Sorariba from Papua New Guinea, Several NGO conflict -resolution campaigners also spoke at the seminar.

Singh described the symposium as very successful.  He said the speakers had made a significant contribution to intellectual life at USP while bringing to public attention an issue that was critical for the wellbeing of the region.

Rashneel Kumar is a final - year student journalist at the University of the South Pacific.



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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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regional vs. international coverage

I noted this very same sentiments by Mr. Moala a few months back when an article came up on Pacific.Scoop on Pacific media to mainstream climate change issues. Mainstream media in the Pacific need to make the Pacific their primary focus. The Pacific is a unique region in its entirety and needs to be considered and reported on as such. Independence from Western reporting ideologies is important in order to portray a true and accurate account of the Region and highlight matters that are of great importance to its people. Often media outlets focus on local news and jump right to international news. We only get extensive regional coverage when a regional summit happens. There needs to be a lot of emphasis placed on regional country focused news to bring it up to a standard that will equal the amount of international coverage we get on our mainstream media outlets in the Pacific.

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