Sunday, February 28, 2010

[pima.nius] Re: Pacific students may qualify for interest free loans when returning home

2:44 PM |

Seriously. This is another scheme that wants to send Polynesians back
home. Why not offer the scheme to any Polynesians as well? It is a
very tempting scheme particularly for young people who may not realise
that is a very risky thing to engage in. Business potentials in these
countries are extremely low, which makes me wonder whether the
motivation to offer these interest free loan is another form of scheme
to drive Polynesians out of NZ, similar to the portable retirement
scheme the govt designed a few years back. Why not offer loans to set
up business in NZ? And why can't students take advantage of the loan
scheme to set up business in NZ, where the potential is far greater
than those respective island nations.The govt often tried to fool the
public by suggesting there is a special relationship between NZ and
those countries. But the kinds of schemes they often come up are akin
to a want to repatriate Polynesians back to the islands. The great
majority of students who will borrow are more likely to end up owing
to the banks etc and I doubt if the government will be there to act as
surety in case these students can't afford the repayments.

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[pima.nius] Pacific students may qualify for interest free loans when returning home

11:38 AM |

Pacific students' interest deal helps

By MARIKA HILL - Manawatu Standard
Last updated 12:00 27/02/2010

Changes to student loan legislation could ease financial pressure on Pacific Island students returning home who now qualify for interest-free loans.

The Student Loan Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading in Parliament this week, makes student loans interest free to borrowers who live in Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau or the Ross Dependency for at least 183 consecutive days.

Niuean Sunlou Liuvaie, who settled in Palmerston North after studying at Massey University, said interest-free loans were great news and could play a part in encouraging students to return home.

"Students go back because they have a sense of contribution, [interest-free loans] may help make it a little easier."

Pacific Islanders returning home face lower average incomes.

Taking off the interest would make it easier to repay the loan, Mr Liuvaie said.

The total student loan debt is more than $10 billion.

Mr Liuvaie plans to work in Palmerston North for a while before eventually returning to Niue with the skills he's gained.

Revenue minister Peter Dunne said the changes were good news for borrowers from Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau or the Ross Dependency.

"[It] will encourage people from these countries, which share a special relationship with New Zealand, to return home and contribute to their countries' futures."

Loans of students on recognised student exchange programmes will also be interest free under the amendment.

"This is another positive step that will allow people to further their studies overseas in a way that will benefit New Zealand in the longer term," Mr Dunne said.

But it wasn't all good news for borrowers.

Student loan repayments will be increased from 10c to 15c in the dollar for borrowers who missed or failed to make payments. 

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[pima.nius] Tsunami coverage

11:35 AM |

Tsunami hits French Polynesia

7:38 AM Sunday Feb 28, 2010

PAPEETE, French Polynesia - Tsunami waves up to two metres high struck parts of French Polynesia early today, and other Pacific nations were evacuating coastlines ahead of a tsunami generated by a devastating earthquake in Chile.

Residents in Asia-Pacific coastal areas were being warned that tsunamis can consist of several waves and they should remain vigilant.

Monique Richeton, mayor of Rikitea, French Polynesia, said the first wave struck Gambier early Sunday at less than one meter and no damage was reported.

In Samoa, where 183 people died in a tsunami in September, police said most people were moved out of low-lying areas by 6 a.m. local. The waves are expected there about 8 a.m.

"The evacuation is going pretty well, with most people in higher ground already," on the main island of Upolu, police spokesman Tavita Moeono said.

In Fiji, people in coastal towns and villages have been evacuated. Police and emergency services are on alert for waves of between 0.6 - 2.3 metres on the northern and eastern islands of the archipelago about 9:20 a.m. local time Sunday.

Disaster management office duty officer Anthony Blake said coastal evacuations had taken place on Vanua Levu, Fiji's second biggest island, and in the Lau and Lomaiviti island groups.

In the Cook Islands, police sirens, text messages and local broadcasts alerted people during the late night and early morning to move inland to high ground and away from the coast.

Police in the capital, Avarua, said coastal evacuations from villages and tourist resorts had gone smoothly, but they were concerned a high tide at the main island of Rarotonga could see any tsunami wave surge further inland.

- AP


Tsunami: No damage reported on Pacific islands


By Michael Dickinson
2:07 PM Sunday Feb 28, 2010

Blaring tsunami warning sirens woke up Pacific island residents early this morning resulting in mass evacuations, but most warnings have been cancelled with no reported damage.

In the Cook Islands, police sirens and radio broadcasts at 3am drove locals and tourists away from the coast to higher ground.

Rarotonga's New Zealand High Commission first secretary Julie Affleck said police scanned beaches and went door-to-door warning people of an emergency.

More than half the island's population had been evacuated, she said.

But there had been no noticeable surges and warnings were cancelled at 10am.

"We're really happy because we've had high cyclone in our waters for the last four weeks. It's been a very busy time for us," Ms Affleck said.

Disaster management officials in Fiji said they had been warned to expect waves of as high as 2.3m to hit the northern and eastern islands of the archipelago and the nearby Tonga islands.

But warnings had been cancelled during the morning and "no significant events" occurred, the office said.

In Tonga, the New Zealand High Commission said there had been four small tsunami waves in Vava'u but no reported damage.

Hawaii had surges as high as two metres but there have been no reports of widespread damage.

But in French Polynesia, tsunami waves up to two meters high swept ashore, damaging parts of the coast.

The United States' Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled its tsunami warning for most Pacific countries except for Japan and Russia.

"We dodged a bullet," said Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist for the warning centre. He said there was a possibility that the tsunami would gain strength again as it headed to Japan.

The United States' Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has cancelled warnings for New Zealand, Australia, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Niue, Tokelau, Fiji, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Hawaii, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Kiribati, Kermandec Island, American Samoa, Jarvis Island, Wallis-Futuna, Palmyra Island, Johnston Island, Marshall Island, Midway Island, Wake Island, Howland-Baker, Solomon Island, Nauru, Kosrae, Papua New Guinea, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Marcus Island, Indonesia, Northern Marianas, Guam, Yap, Belau, Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Antarctica, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Pitcairn, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.

By Michael Dickinson

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[pima.nius] Call for: Graphic artists documentary makers

11:19 AM |



Kia orana,

 

We are looking to strengthen our lists of the above.  If you have worked with or know of, or are a graphic designer – could you please send me your email and contact details to nanettew@sprep.org

 

The same applies in regards to documentary makers.

 

 

Thank you very much,

nan

 

 

 

 

Ms. Nanette Woonton

Associate Media and Publications Officer

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)

T: (685) 66305

F: (685) 20231

 

 

PYOCC Logo

 

 

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[pima.nius] SAMOA: Editors clash over radio talkback defamation case

11:17 AM |


Title – 6681 SAMOA: Editors clash over radio talkback defamation case
Date – 27 February 2010
Byline – None
Origin – Pacific Media Watch
Source – Pacific Media Watch, 27/2/10
Copyright – PMW
Status – Unabridged
----------------------------
* Pacific Media Watch Online - check the website for archive and links:
www.pacmediawatch.aut.ac.nz

* Post a comment on this story at PMW Right of Reply:
www.pacificmediacentre.blogspot.com
pmc@aut.ac.nz

* Pacific Media Centre on Twitter - http://twitter.com/pacmedcentre

EDITORS CLASH OVER RADIO TALKBACK DEFAMATION CASE
www.pacmediawatch.aut.ac.nz

By Josephine Latu, of Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch):  A defamation case involving allegations on a popular talkback radio about the Samoan justice minister has divided local media opinion about the issue.

Alofa Tautai, 35, was fined WS$10,000 last week by the Supreme Court for defaming the Minister of Justice, Unasa Mesi Galo, in an a radio comment made on 19 October 2009.

She had telephoned the Talofa FM radio talkback show Uaea Mosooi and made an allegation on air about  Galo involving drink-driving.

Tautai comes from the village of Sa'asaai, which is part of the constituency that elected Galo to Parliament.

According to a report by the Samoa Observer, Galo claimed his reputation had been damaged, given that "the broadcast reached a nationwide audience and from comments to him about it from many of his constituents".
www.samoaobserver.ws/index.php?view=article&id=19122%3Awoman-fined&option=com_content&Itemid=62

He also said in his affidavit that the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi had sought an explanation from him regarding the allegations.

Failing a public apology and retraction from the defendant, Galo took Tautai to court.

Observer cricriticism
Award winning editor-in-chief of the Samoa Observer, Savea Sano Malifa, has since slammed the justice minister in an online editorial.
www.samoaobserver.ws/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19239:well-done&catid=51:editorial&Itemid=103

"Now it looks as if we're heading towards familiar turf once again.

"Obviously we're talking about the eighties and nineties when the norm was for cabinet ministers to sue annoying members of the public to shut them up," he wrote.

The Samoa Observer, the nation's only independent daily, has been sued for defamation numerous times in the past.

In a decisive case in 1997, then prime minister Tofilau Eti Alesana sued Savea and his editor for criminal libel, claiming they had damaged his political and personal reputation.

The Supreme Court ruled that the case be dropped.

However, in a separate case in 1998, the Observer was ordered to pay WS$50,000 to the PM after publishing claims about his alleged misuse of public funds.

In his Sunday editorial, Savea questioned the public expectation that government leaders should have a spotless reputation.

He also criticised the justice minister's decision to take Tautai to court.

"He's a Minister of Justice with a huge salary, a free car, a free phone, and all the other perks on top.

"By the way, who paid for his legal fees? Did he know that the taxpayers - that's you and me - are required by law to pay for his legal fees, and those of all other government leaders who may sue members of the
public for defamation?" he wrote.

Response from Savali
However, at least one other media figure has defended the justice minister against "untruths" in the independent newspaper.

The editor of the government newspaper Savali, Tupuola Terry Tavita, responded to Savea's editorial, saying it had "twisted the matter to make it look like big-bad Unasa taking on Little Red-Riding Alofa."

Tupuola's commentary, published in Pacific Scoop, said Savea was sending out a public message that "it's ok to go to the media and tell untruths about your member of Parliament".
http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2010/02/samoan-justice-minister-deserves-a-bouquet-for-his-talkback-case-stand/

He also accused the Samoa Observer of having ulterior motives in its coverage of the case.

"It has nothing to do with Unasa, nothing to do with Alofa Tautai and a lot to do with abrogating the state's defamation laws," wrote Tupuola.

He applauded Justice Minister Galo for "sticking to his principles and taking the matter to the revealing end."

So far, there have been no reports of any case against the radio station that aired the defamatory statement, Talofa FM.

* Comment on this item www.pacific.scoop.co.nz

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[pima.nius] MULTI-MEDIA INTERN NEEDED AT CTA

11:10 AM |



MULTI-MEDIA INTERN NEEDED AT CTA

Multimedia Internship Opportunity at CTA

Background

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), an international organization based in Wageningen, The Netherlands, has an opening for one intern for a period of 6 months, renewable only once. The intern will work as a member of the CTA Communications Services Team.

CTA's mandate puts emphasis on facilitating access, exchange and dissemination of information in the fields of agriculture and rural development. The Communications Services Department plays a critical role in the realization of the above. CTA envisages increased activity output in the area of multimedia: video, audio, TV, online media, graphics, etc. The intern will be required to assist in the production and manipulation of multimedia related work.

Duties

Under the guidance and supervision of the Programme Coordinator, Media, the intern will perform the following activities:

Assist in the production of multimedia knowledge products including:

1.    drafting, development and manipulation/editing of video and audio files, among other multimedia products;

2.    online social media strategy execution, particularly website, virtual platforms, YouTube postings, Twitter, video and text blogs, LinkedIn and other social networking pages;

3.    Website support, including upload of multimedia related products and development of graphics/illustrations for website and/or online use;

4.    Development and moderation of new and/or existing online sharing platforms;

5.    Any other multimedia related assignments such as graphic design of promotional materials, presentations, etc, as required.

 Qualifications and Experience

1.    Graduate from university or a similar institution of higher education in multimedia or multimedia related subject;

2.    Recent graduate, 22- 29 years of age;

3.    Familiarity with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries is a plus;

4.    Knowledge of web based software;

5.    Knowledge of production and desktop video and audio editing a plus, using Photoshop and other software;

6.    Interest in development issues and social media;

7.    Fluent in French or English language and having a good working knowledge of the other;

8.    Strong computer skills; Macintosh computer video editing skills preferred;

9.    Excellent communications,  interpersonal skills and organizational skills;

10.  Familiar with web and graphic design tools;

11.  National of either one European Union member state or of one of the 78 ACP states.

Application procedure

Qualifying candidates are invited to forward before 21 March 2010. 

1.         One-page motivational letter explaining why he/she qualifies for this position;

2.         Curriculum Vitae;

3          Scanned copies of academic qualifications

4          Two letters of recommendation and/or references

 

Mr. J-C. Burguet

CTA - Head of Administration & Human Resource Department

Ref. HRD

PO Box 380

6700 AJ Wageningen

The Netherlands

Email: burguet@cta.int copy to intern@cta.int

 Samuel Mikenga

Programme Coordinator, Media
Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation ACP-EU (CTA)
P.O. Box 380, NL 6700AJ Wageningen, The Netherlands (ordinary mail deliveries)
Agro Business Park 2, NL 6708PW Wageningen, The Netherlands (courier deliveries)

Phone: +31 (0)317 467101 (direct); Fax: +31 (0)317 460067; Skype: samuelmikenga;
E-mail: mikenga@cta.int; Website: www.cta.int; Location Map:
click here


To subscribe to CTA e-newsletters click here! and Spore Magazine click here


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Thursday, February 25, 2010

[pima.nius] Re: Conference to celebrate Papa Ron in Cook Islands

12:46 PM |

Cos I am and cos I can. A 'Festschrift' is presented during ones own
lifetime. A publication presented posthumously is called a
'Gedenkschrift'.
Na te atua e tiaki Papa Ron.

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[pima.nius] Princess Ashika captain charged

11:29 AM |

Princess Ashika captain charged

NZPA
Last updated 09:47 25/02/2010

The captain of the Tongan ferry Princess Ashika has been arrested and charged with five counts of knowingly sailing an unseaworthy vessel.

The 37-year-old Ashika sank last year with the loss of 74 lives, while Maka Tuputupu was in charge.

The charges relate to five sailings the Princess Ashika made under his captaincy.

He was arrested last night and has already appeared in court. He remains in custody until a bail hearing takes place.

He was the second person to be charged over the sinking.

New Zealander John Jonesse, who recommended the purchase of the 37-year-old ferry was earlier charged with forgery and using a forged document while advising the Tongan government about the vessel.

The former managing director of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia (SCP) has been released on bail.

Tongan police alleged he forged the signature of marine surveyor David Shaw on an audit document in April last year, and gave the document to the minister of finance.

Police said they were examining the actions of a number of people involved in the Ashika tragedy and had not ruled out further arrests.

The police investigation is running separately from the Royal Commission of Inquiry, which is currently under way.

Former Transport Minister Paul Karalus will be back in the stand today giving evidence over his role in the purchase of the vessel and the due diligence which was undertaken.

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[pima.nius] Conference to celebrate Papa Ron in Cook Islands

11:25 AM |

Conference to celebrate Papa Ron


The life and work of the renowned Cook Islands scholar, Professor Ron Crocombe, will be celebrated at a conference in August.

The Festschrift for Ron Crocombe conference is being coordinated by the Cook Islands Research Association in association with the Library & Museum Society and University of the South Pacific Cook Islands campus.

Papers for the conference will celebrate the life and work of Crocombe, who passed away in June last year.

A selection of papers presented at the August 12-13 conference will be published as a Festschrift – a book honouring a respected person – which will also include a list of academic colleagues and friends who wish to recall or honour Crocombe's personal, public or academic life.

  • Rod Dixon

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[pima.nius] Ashika inquiry chairman censures PM Sevele over ‘inappropriate’ remark

11:21 AM |

- Pacific.scoop.co.nz - http://pacific.scoop.co.nz -

Ashika inquiry chairman censures PM Sevele over 'inappropriate' remark

Posted By Rua On February 25, 2010 @ 9:06 am In Articles, Tonga | No Comments

[1]

Princess Ashika disaster's death toll of 74 passengers and crew made it the nation's worst shipping tragedy. Photo: TNews.

Pacific Scoop:
By Pese Fonua in Nuku'alofa

Tonga's Prime Minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, has been censured for making an "inappropriate" personal remark to counsel assisting, in a closing statement he gave to the Princess Ashika disaster inquiry following an intense session of questioning that continued until midnight on Tuesday.

When the session reopened, Justice Warwick, the chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into the sinking of the MV Princess Ashika, said the Prime Minister had made a personal attack on counsel assisting, Manuel Varitimos.

"Last evening the Prime Minister gave evidence. The Prime Minister via his counsel asked whether he could make a statement at the conclusion of his evidence. The Prime Minister was allowed to do so in good faith.

"The Prime Minister took the opportunity given to him to make a personal attack on counsel assisting. The attack was inappropriate," Justice Warwick Andrew said, adding: "Questions will continue to be asked which some may not like. That is the nature of an inquiry of this sort."

[2]

Tongan Prime Minister Dr Feleti Sevele at the inquiry. Photo: Matangi Tonga

After midnight
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister appeared before the commission for the second time, in an evening session starting at 7 pm.

Apart from two short breaks, the inquiry did not adjourn until 12:22 am, but before Justice Warwick declared the inquiry closed for the night, the Prime Minister was given the opportunity to make a statement.

Dr Sevele said: "The Ashika tragedy represents one of the saddest losses to have befallen our beloved kingdom . . . One over which every Tongan with no exception has mourned or continues to mourn."

On behalf of himself and the government, he extended his sympathies to the families who lost loved ones and said: "We are truly sorry and I, as Prime Minister, apologise most sincerely for the failings which have happened at various levels of government and of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia. . . . The tragedy should never have happened."

Dismay revealed
But then, in a conclusion, the Prime Minister went on to address a suggestion that he had been dictatorial in the time schedule to attend the inquiry, but he pointed out that his attendance to sit into the middle of the night was evidence of the government's commitment to an open, fair and impartial inquiry.

He revealed his dismay at the questioning by the commission, in regard to Cabinet proceedings.

"It has been suggested here, much to my dismay, Mr Chairman, as Prime Minister, that perhaps Cabinet should think of recording its discussions, recording those who dissent in the interests of transparency.

"Mr Chairman, Tonga is not alone in having the procedure whereby discussions in Cabinet are not recorded," he said.

Dr Sevele, who was upset over the commission's questioning of the king's power to appoint Tonga's law lords, said: "A suggestion that the Law Lords are a law unto themselves, Mr Chairman – this is a direct attack on His Majesty's constitutional authority, an attack which I find constitutes condescending arrogance and downright disrespect."

But it appeared to be a final remark in the Prime Minister's statement that irked the chairman, when Dr Sevele said: "Finally, counsel assisting the Commission, you may be an excellent counsel in Australia, but when you are in the Kingdom of Tonga, please try to understand our constitution and show some respect for our monarch, for our government, our people and our culture. Thank you very much."

Source: Matangi Tonga [3]


Article printed from Pacific.scoop.co.nz: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz

URL to article: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2010/02/ashika-inquiry-chairman-censures-pm-sevele/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/princess_ashika.jpg

[2] Image: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/tonga_sevele_100224-e1267041350875.jpg

[3] Matangi Tonga : http://www.matangitonga.to/article/tonganews/law/20100224_tonga_ashika_inquiry_warwick.shtml

Copyright © 2009 pacific. All rights reserved.

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[pima.nius] OPINION: Samoan justice minister deserves a bouquet for his talkback case stand

11:18 AM |

 

Samoan justice minister deserves a bouquet for his talkback case stand

Posted By Rua On February 26, 2010 @ 2:01 am In Articles, Samoa | No Comments

Justice Minister [1]

Justice Minister Unasa Mesi Galo: From talkback to fightback. Photo: Samoan government

Pacific Scoop:
Opinion – By Tupuola Terry Tavita in Apia

Justice Minister Unasa Mesi Galo should be applauded for taking a stance on untruths said and circulated about him on a popular talkback radio show last year.

One Alofa Tautai went on FM98's Uaea Mosooi on 19 October 2009 and accused the minister of drunk-driving, driving on the wrong side of the road and nearly causing an accident.

Since, the accusations had been making the rounds in town and the minister's constituency where the woman is from. Especially in light of a similar incident involving another cabinet minister.

Those who are familiar with the justice minister found it difficult to believe as apart from the odd spot of celebratory wine, Unasa does not indulge in the bottle sort of speak.

The minister then took it upon himself to clear his name and referred the matter to the courts, as is the case with anybody who feels his name has been tarnished by untruths told about him.

This week, Chief Justice Tiavaasue Falefatu Sapolu, who presided over the case, handed down his decision in favour of Unasa.

We assume that the court could not find any truth in the woman's claims.

Twisted matter
But as the independent media often does, it has since twisted the matter to make it look like big-bad Unasa taking on Little Red-Riding Alofa.

"Cabinet ministers sue annoying members of the public to shut them up!" screams the town daily's editor.

His message to the public [2] – it's ok to go to the media and tell untruths about your member of Parliament.

Accuse him of drunk driving, negligent driving and other law-breaking evils. After all they're paid well therefore deserving of every lie you tell of them.

And this is supposed to be the shining light of responsible media/journalism in this country?

Now, to make it clear, this column is not in the business of defending cabinet ministers. If the concerns are legitimate and the criticisms valid, then why not?  They're after all the voting man's, and woman's, representatives in office.

But if they're blatant lies prompted by sinister political motives, then we should all take exception.

Little truth
Especially as we move into election mode when little truth and plenty of untruths are thrown around.

Let Unasa be judged by his constituency for the truths he's done for them during his term in office, not untruths told about him through the media.

We also have to take our hats off to Unasa for sticking to his principles and taking the matter to the revealing end. Some 12 months from general elections, not many MPs – least cabinet ministers – would be brave enough to isolate part of his constituency, least take them to court.

In fact, what our colleague editor is advocating would've been the easy way to do it. Become the political animal we expect you to be, turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to whatever untruths said about you and go about the business of getting re-elected.

It's cheap, without class and unprincipled. Insulting to a man like Unasa who hasn't a mean bone in his stature.

But we all know too well what the town daily's angle is. It has nothing to do with Unasa, nothing to do with Alofa Tautai and a lot to do with abrogating the state's defamation laws.

Laws that, ironically, are designed to protect the interests of Unasa as that of Alofa Tautai as well as the loftier goal of maintaining media standards and responsibility in this country.

In fact, this whole episode is a further reason why we should still retain those defamation laws.

Tupuola Terry Tavita is editor of the Samoan government newspaper Savali.


Article printed from Pacific.scoop.co.nz: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz

URL to article: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2010/02/samoan-justice-minister-deserves-a-bouquet-for-his-talkback-case-stand/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/samoa_unasa_mesi_galo-e1267101942447.jpg

[2] message to the public: http://www.samoaobserver.ws/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=51&Itemid=103

Copyright © 2009 pacific. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

[pima.nius] NZ Herald: Tracey Barnett on How NZ Media and Journalists Suck

5:36 PM |

Tracey Barnett on the issues of the day
Tracey Barnett is a Herald columnist
10
comments

All commentary, no analysis, all of the time

By Tracey Barnett
4:00 AM Friday Feb 19, 2010
  1. Print

Tracey Barnett says that commentators, pundits, columnists, people like her who get their little heads put in a box on the left side of the story, are myopic sheep - on a good day.

Our priorities are whacked.

We will stop to read about one Haitian man found alive after 27 days, yet stories on ten of thousands of other survivors won't see the light of day more than two months out of this news cycle.

You may read about the United States choosing to cut funding to the manned space programme, but how many of us have even heard about the 32 new planets that have just been discovered this past October?

We jumped up and down about John Key having shares in a uranium mining company this week. Yet we spent relatively tiny amounts of media focus on Key's proposal the same week to mine our national parks, though the decision to do so may have decades-long consequences on the perception of our country's brand and the scars it may inflict on a precious resource, our national parks.

The nature of the beast, right? New will always trump important.

But it was only after I returned home from a self-imposed news blackout for a month (which I highly recommend) over the summer holidays that something hit me that I never expected.

My profession suck at what they do. Let me be very specific. Commentators, pundits, columnists, people like me who get their little heads put in a box on the left side of the story, are myopic sheep - on a good day.

Someone finds a way to start the news narrative and like clueless lemmings, we all jump into the same plotline to finish each other's sentences, clinging to page one.

You don't notice it when you're a daily reader. But when I returned to it with fresh eyes, I saw entire waves of news narratives that felt hopelessly unimportant to any sane man's idea of the big picture.

Around Christmas, Barack Obama was the compromising statesman buried in the whitewater of political reality, but pushing through. Most thought some form of the healthcare legislation was "likely" to pass and he had a chance at being the only president since Lyndon Johnson to get something, anything, done on the issue.

Cut to six weeks later: One former naked Cosmo centrefold gets elected as a Republican senator from Massachusetts and the whole narrative changed overnight - not just on healthcare either. The new dog-pack mantra for February: Obama's presidency is toast.

Last week's Listener teased an otherwise excellent article by Jon Johansson with, "As President Obama stands on the precipice of failure just one short year after his resounding presidential victory ..." like he was God's American Idol contestant just spat out by Simon Cowell.

There is a reason they call it "perspective". I have plenty of problems with some of Obama's policies and sure, Democrats will lose big-time in the mid-term elections this year, but no historian would close the books on an entire presidency by its first year.

What did you expect after 13 months - Narnia? Yet, if you took the collective handwriting of those of my profession, commentators almost universally assessed Obama by his approval numbers the week of his one-year anniversary.

At George W. Bush's one-year mark, his approval numbers soared to 80 per cent. Why? Americans felt the need to rally around their president after 9/11.

That's got nothing to do with where he ended up. By the time he left office, 60 per cent of historians ranked Bush as one of America's all-time worst presidents.

What would have happened if pundits used the rate of bills passed in Congress that the President had come out to support? Obama got the highest pass rate of any president in the five decades since they started recording the number, at 96.7 per cent, according to The Congressional Quarterly.

Depends who's holding the reins of the narrative that moment, doesn't it? Obama may become a single-term president, but its no surprise that every president within recent memory got the same forecast at his first anniversary, notably Ronald Reagan, whose recession approval ratings roughly mirrored Obama's by the middle of his first term.

You can blame editors for trying to pull in eyeballs by deferring to the new. But commentators don't have that excuse.

We have a huge luxury. Our job should be to pull back and describe the entire landscape, not just the dog poop on the corner.

Who really loses this battle? All of us, because we start to see the world like its one continuous action movie.

We get so sucked into the vortex of the endlessly hungry daily news machine, we begin to think every story is about the fight, not the resolution. Suddenly our job becomes declaring momentary winners and losers.

Which begs the question, how many commentators do you read that don't chain themselves to the weekly news cycle and truly look above the parapet?

If you find them, let me know. Because that kind of bigger vision deserves everybody's focus.

www.traceybarnett.co.nz or Twitter @TraceyBarnett

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