Cafe Pacific

30 January 2016

Café Pacific: Asia Pacific Report - a new venture for independent journalism

30 January 2016

David Robie: COMMENTARY: Comments from the and video launch at Auckland University of Technology.

By David Robie

Comments from the and video launch at Auckland University of Technology.

COMMENTARY: Our new adventure really began back in 2007 when Selwyn Manning joined the Pacific Media Centre as the founding advisory board chair, but really took a big leap forward when he initiated the Pacific Scoop concept and we developed that together, launching it at the 2009 Māori Expo.

Over the next six years, Pacific Scoop played an inspiring role in independent journalism alongside the main Scoop Media website, providing a range of Asia and Pacific stories and analyses.

A significant core of this project was its role as the official output from AUT’s postgraduate Asia Pacific Journalism course. We have sent students all over the Pacific on key story and research assignments over the years. Some of these stories have won awards.

While at AUT, Selwyn did two innovative postgraduate honours degrees – producing ground-breaking documentaries for both, Morality of Argument and Behind the Shroud, which are featured on AsiaPacificReport.

But after Selwyn branched out and got his own Multimedia Investments operation and Evening Report and many other innovative websites off the ground, it became apparent that we needed something more than what we were able to offer with Pacific Scoop.

This coincided with the opportunity to team up again with Selwyn with the AsiaPacificReport project, which is a quantum leap forward for us, designed for interactive platforms, with a strong emphasis on multimedia capacities and a wider range of independent journalism.

Once again, AsiaPacificReport will be the outlet for our Asia Pacific Journalism course, but this will also be supplemented by journalism from independents and analysis from academics and issue-based reports.

'No-froth' journalism
Make no mistake, this website is about creating another public space for  "no-froth" journalism and examining the real Asia-Pacific issues of the day from an Aotearoa perspective.

Dr David Robie, PCF's Laulu Mac Leauanae and Selwyn
Manning at the launch. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC

Just take today, for example:

The lead story at the moment is one about political harassment by security forces of protesters in East Timor, or Timor-Leste, this week over a peaceful demonstration about impunity for the crimes committed under Indonesian rule for a quarter century.

President Jokowi of Indonesia was making his first official visit to Timor-Leste and the government and police wanted to keep dissent under wraps.

It is no surprise nothing was published about this in the NZ media, that I am aware of.

Another story today, thanks to our collaboration with the Vanuatu Daily Post, tells of a successful MP provisionally elected to Parliament in the snap election last Friday.

He is going to pay 100 percent of his salary to local chiefs in North Ambae to boost local development projects.

In the NZ media? No way.

Internship story
Another story is about religious issues on Indonesia’s so-called “|Island of Intolerance”.
In the local media. Once again, no way.

Our first graduate to have a story published in AsiaPacificReport is Michael Neilson, currently in Jakarta with the Sydney Morning Herald bureau. This was his first internship story, about Aceh citizens taking legal action to protect the orangutan and the Sumatran jungle.

In a nutshell, some of the objectives of the website are:

  • An independent Asia-Pacific voice telling the “untold” stories
  • An educational media resource boosting the quality of regional reporting
  • Addressing issues of equity and justice
  • Providing Asia-Pacific journalism internships as a professional development opportunity
Documentary maker Alistar Kata with Fuimaono Tuiasau (left)
and Selwyn Manning at the launch. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC

Do delve into this website on your phones, tablets or wherever. Already there is about three months of in-depth content available and some archives.

Many thanks to Pacific Cooperation Foundation chief executive Laulu Mac Leauanae who did us the honour of launching the website.

Many thanks to all the people, who have helped, especially Selwyn and his team, David Yetton and his team who worked tirelessly for the launch, Tony Murrow of Little Island Press who developed our umbrella Pacific Media Centre and Pacific Journalism Review websites, and we hope to be working together on an exciting climate change project in the near future.

And also Del Abcede who tirelessly works for this centre as a volunteer and makes sure the place is ticking along.

A final bouquet is for the short doco by Alistar Kata, who just joined Tagata Pasifika this week. She produced The PMC Project, a compelling insight into the work of the Pacific Media Centre team.

AUT University story

Watch Alistar Kata's video about the Pacific Media Centre:

David Robie

Professor, PMC Director

Professor David Robie is an author, journalist and media educator specialising in Asia-Pacific affairs.