Pacific Media Watch

12 September 2015

FIJI: Asia-Pacific student journalists experience 'exciting' media challenges

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Auckland University of Technology-based student journalists Kai Ping Lew (left) and Niklas Pedersen. Image: Jovesa Naisua/Fiji Times

Bettylyn Matakitoga
SUVA (The Fiji Times/Pacific Media Watch): Working in the Fijian me­dia has been an exciting journey of challenges and realisations for two overseas student journalists in the country for two weeks.

Danish native Niklas Br­andt Pedersen and Kai Ping Lew are postgraduate students on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course, led by Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie, a former head of journalism at the University of the South Pacific, at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.

Pedersen described the media culture in Fiji as very different from what he was accustomed to, but he said he found it exciting.

"There are a lot of rest­r­i­ctions because of the med­ia decree and it's been a real challenge to try to cope, but I think we're going to learn a lot from this," he said.

Pedersen, who is from the Danish School of Journalism and Media and at AUT as part of an Inclusive Journalism initiative (IJI) exchange, added that not being able to publish a­n­ything critical of the go­­vernment without a res­p­­onse from them was challenging.

"So actually they can shut down any critical story they want by just not responding to it, but I think it's also a positive stance by the Fiji media to try and look forward and not backwards."

Self-censorship was a challenge faced by Lew in her journalistic endeavours in the country.

"It's not just the publications that self-censor but also the people who self-censor," she said.

Lew said they wanted to ensure their reports took into consideration the context and cultural sensitivities.

"It's easy to criticise the exterior of things, but it takes a little bit of deeper understanding and analysis and talking to the people — I think — to be able to get the bigger picture and that's what we're aspiring towards," she said.

Pedersen and Lew experienced internships with the independent Republika magazine and Wansolwara newspaper and website published by the USP regional journalism programme.

They have also been reporting for Pacific Scoop in New Zealand.

Fiji Report: Browse their stories on Storify at the Pacific Media Centre

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