Saturday, November 14, 2015

Beirut and Paris: Two terror attacks with different tales

Mourners at the Auckland, New Zealand, vigil for Paris at the weekend. Photo: David Robie
By Belen Fernandez

AS NEWS arrived of terror attacks in Paris that ultimately left more than 120 people dead, US President Barack Obama characterised the situation as “heartbreaking” and an assault “on all of humanity.”

But his presidential sympathy was conspicuously absent the previous day when terror attacks in Beirut left more than 40 dead. Predictably, Western media and social media were much less vocal about the slaughter in Lebanon.

The Independent's weekend front page, UK.
And while many of us are presumably aware, to some degree, of the discrepancy in value assigned to people's lives on the basis of nationality and other factors, the back-to-back massacres in Beirut and Paris served to illustrate without a doubt the fact that, when it comes down to it, “all of humanity” doesn't necessarily qualify as human.

Of course, there's more to the story than the relative dehumanisation of the Lebanese as compared with their French counterparts. There's also the prevailing notion in the West that — as far as bombs, explosions, and killings go — Lebanon is simply One of Those Places Where Such Things Happen.

The same goes for places like Iraq, to an even greater extent, which is part of the reason we don't see Obama mourning attacks on all of humanity every time he reads the news out of Baghdad.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The digital media revolution, a free press and student journalism

Keynote speaker and former University of the South Pacific Journalism Programme head Professor David Robie with the FALE Storyboard Award winner for best regional reporting, ‘Ana Uili. David and his wife, Del, donated this West Sepik storyboard for the awards. Photo: Lowen Sei/USP
Professor David Robie's speech at the University of the South Pacific 21st Anniversary Journalism Awards on 30 October 2015:

Kia ora tatou and ni sa bula vinaka,

FIRSTLY, I wish to acknowledge the people of Fiji for returning this wonderful country to democracy last year, and also to the University of the South Pacific and Dr Shailendra Singh and his team for inviting me here to speak at this 21st Anniversary Journalism Awards event.

[Acknowledgements to various university and media VIPs]

As I started off these awards here at the University of the South Pacific in 1999 during an incredibly interesting and challenging time, it is a great honour to return for this event marking the 21st anniversary of the founding of the regional Pacific journalism programme.

Thus it is also an honour to be sharing the event with Monsieur Michel Djokovic, the Ambassador of France given how important French aid has been for this programme.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Nuclear free: Do you know who this ni-Vanuatu girl is?

THIS GIRL is featured on the front cover of David Robie's 2014 book - Don't Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific (Little Island Press). It was taken in 1983 at Independence Park, Vanuatu, during the Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific conference.

She also appears in a Hawai'an Voice video version of the song Nuclear Free (at 1min08sec) by Huarere. I would love to know who she is and where she is today.

Perhaps she is in her late 30s today?

If anybody has any information about her identity and where she might be now, please email David Robie.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

INFOCORE sets pace on global violent conflict media research project

Pacific Media Centre director David Robie at the INFOCORE stakeholders workshop in Brussels, Belgium.
Image: PMC
IT was a privilege for the Pacific Media Centre to be among the 27 global stakeholders involved in a progress feedback workshop for the European Union-funded €2.5 million violent conflict research project dubbed INFOCORE in Brussels last weekend.

Other stakeholders included the AFP Foundation, Deutsche Welle news agency, European Broadcasting Union, France 24, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Internews Europe, Journaliste en Danger, Thomson Reuters Foundation, UNESCO Chair in Communication for Social Change and Media, War and Conflict journal. 

The two-day event was hosted by another stakeholder, Press Club Brussels Europe, at its friendly offices in Rue Froissart, Schuman, decorated with a range of political cartoons from Europe’s finest cartoonists.

INFOCORE stands for (In)forming Conflict Prevention, Response and Resolution: The role of the media in violent conflict.

The research mission is to provide a “systematically comparative assessment of various kinds of media, interacting with a wide range of relevant actors and producing diverse kinds of conflict coverage,” as the INFOCORE website describes it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

From 'reality' TV to the reality of documentary making - the new civic impulse

Tame Iti featured on the cover of the latest Pacific Journalism Review. Image: Jos Wheeler/The Price of Peace
THE RISE of popular factual television has threatened the key claim on “reality” of documentary practice but there is hope on the horizon in the post-documentary era, says Pacific Journalism Review in the latest edition published this week.

The October edition examines the state of documentary practice in the Asia-Pacific region and also profiles the work of many contemporary filmmakers.

“Documentary programmes on broadcast television have been progressively replaced by lavish series, formulaic docu-soaps or reality TV,” writes edition co-editor Professor Barry King in his editorial.

He adds that a “troubling implication is that post-documentary forms threaten the legitimacy and credibility of the documentary tradition as a whole.”

King notes that one symptom of this “tangible appetite can be found in the rise of citizen journalism, which, however evaluated, still answers to civic impulse”. The surveillance of authorities also boosted this eyewitness function.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bikini bombs lawsuit inspires support at NZ peace action conference

Roskill MP and opposition Labour spokesperson on disarmament Phil Goff speaking
at the World Without War conference in Auckland today. Image: Del Abcede
BEFORE Parisian car engineer turned-designer Louis Réard named the sexy two-piece swimsuit he created a “bikini” in 1946, it was the name of an obscure Pacific atoll in the Marshall Islands, lost among more than 1100 islets in the trust territory, now an independent republic.

And Bikini Atoll was the Ground Zero for 23 US nuclear tests in the Pacific – out of some 67 conducted over the next dozen years in the Marshall Islands. (Excellent background on this in Giff Johnson's Don't Ever Whisper).

Last year the little republic filed a controversial lawsuit in the International Court of Justice at The Hague against Washington and the eight other nuclear powers – Britain, China, France, India, Israel (although it denies possessing a nuclear arsenal), North Korea, Pakistan and Russia.

The Marshall Islands accuses the nuclear club members of “violating their duty” to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of these weapons.

Now, over this weekend in New Zealand, some 200 people have participated in a World Without War conference drawing up a list for proposed action for peace and the Marshall Islands action came in for some strong support from several speakers.

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