Sunday, November 7, 2010

[pima.nius] REGION: USP ‘honours responsibility’ to Pacific journalism education

11:15 AM |

Title – 7112 REGION: USP 'honours responsibility' to Pacific journalism education
Date – 5 November 2010
Byline – None
Origin – Pacific Media Watch
Source – Pacific Scoop, 5/11/10
Copyright – PS
Status – Unabridged
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SUVA (Pacific Scoop/Pacific Media Watch): The University of the South Pacific takes its role as leading journalism educator in the region seriously – and continuously invests in learning and teaching, the annual student journalism awards event heard last night.

Outlining plans to improve facilities and further boost teaching capacity, the head of journalism at USP, Shailendra Singh, said a teaching assistant would be recruited and renovations to a broadcast lab were in the pipeline.

"This will mean more one-on-one support for students and an improved broadcasting studio," said Singh.

Speaking at USP journalism's annual awards night at the Oceania Centre at the Laucala Campus in Suva, Singh said the programme was externally audited by University of Queensland associate professor Pradip Thomas last year.

The audit is part of quality controls that the USP has in place.

"The audit was positive and encouraging, and we are implementing some recommendations," said Singh.

The gala event was attended by publishers, editors, and reporters from all major news media organisations in Fiji.

Gender research
Chief guest and keynote speaker Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, coordinator of femLINKpacific, spoke on the latest Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), the world's longest-running and most extensive research on gender in the news media.

USP academics, journalism graduates and representatives of civil society organisations were present.

Singh said the USP journalism advisory committee with industry representation had been revived to consult on curriculum and other matters.

He emphasised that journalism staff spared no effort to ensure students received an enriching academic experience.

"Twice this year, Radio Australia journalist Bruce Hill voluntarily conducted workshops and seminars at Laucala Campus and in July, Karen Knudsen from the East-West Center in Hawai'i addressed students," Singh said.

Also, former USP journalism coordinator associate professor David Robie, who is now director of the Pacific Media Centre, addressed journalism students and delegates as a media keynote speaker at the global Oceans, Islands and Skies climate change conference at the Laucala campus in September.

Eight speakers from different regional institutions addressed students during the fortnightly Friday Forums held at the campus newsroom.

Real world
"This exercise exposes our students to some leading minds in the region," said Singh. "It creates a real world understanding among students, who use the Friday Forum platform to undertake assignments and generate story ideas."

USP journalism has been around for more than 20 years and it has produced around 150 graduates who work in various media sectors in more than 12 Pacific countries.

"We are pleased with this result, especially given our resource constraints," said Singh.

"For instance, at the moment, there are just two full time teaching staff. We have, nevertheless, managed to offer variety in teaching and we have broadened student learning and opportunities," said Singh.

"This by forging strategic alliances with media industry, NGOs, and regional organisations in Fiji and beyond."

Singh added that USP journalism's achievement showed that stakeholders could overcome resource constraints by forging mutually beneficial strategic alliances and by pooling resources.

Strategic alliances
He gave these examples:

-   The Fiji Sun, Fiji Times, Communications Fiji Ltd, Fiji TV, Mai TV and Fiji Bradcasting Corporation all provide internships for students.

-    Radio Australia also offers USP Journalism internships, and one student will go on a four-week attachment with the radio station in Melbourne.

-   The Secretariat of the Pacific Community's media unit is assisting USP train TV journalism students.

-   The Fiji Sun publishes and distributes Wansolwara, the award-winning student training newspaper, free. The Sun also publishes stories written by students.

-    The Pacific Freedom Forum arranged for Maggie Boyle to attend the media freedom conference in Brisbane.

-    With help from the Fiji Amateur Sports Association, final year student Rashneel was selected from Oceania to cover the Singapore Youth Olympics recently.

-    Last year, the Cook Islands News sponsored Arin Kumar to help cover the Pacific Mini Games in Rarotonga.

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