By Kai Ping Lew
When Alistar Kata first asked if I would take part in this mini doco, The PMC Project, I was really excited for the opportunity. The Pacific Media Centre has added so much to my learning curve as a journalist and I was more than happy to have a way to give back to it.
It’s a crucial support system for anyone who wants to report on the Asia-Pacific region, and Alistar’s video gives a little insight into the work they do, the team there, and why it matters.
Most people who want to become a journalist get told that they won’t get paid a lot of money. They get told that the media industry is driven by commercial values, that the large media corporations are owned by a few people who drive the agenda and nothing of real importance that harms their interests will never make it into mainstream news.
They get told that governments and societal elites will shut them down if they ever try to cover anything that paints them in a bad light.
These things are more or less true to a certain extent, varying from country to country, but an aspiring journalist plods on anyway because we are idealistic.
We dream of a more equal society and hope that we will have some small part in making that happen.
We dream of exposing corruption at the highest level, of giving voice to those who do not have the means or the access to make themselves heard, of improving peoples’ lives by giving them information that can help inform their choices.
Media industry challenges
This dream can sometimes seem childish and naïve in the face of the derision of others and the challenges facing the media industry today. Many industry professionals who have been in journalism long enough have become jaded and speak of their battles with tones tinged with cynicism.
It’s easy to be cynical. It’s harder to stand by your intangible, nebulous dream and fight for it.
It’s harder to know that the road is long, the battles will be tough, and you will have to face Goliath armed with a pen and your wits, and jump into the fray anyway.
David Robie is one of the people who has been in journalism for as long as he has who continues to burn with passion and idealism.
Under him, the Pacific Media Centre has grown as a resource, a media outlet, and a haven where like-minded journalists can find their purpose anchored, their small struggles appreciated, and a word of advice to spur them on when all they see are roadblocks ahead.
It is a place that nurtures idealism when the fire is dwindling. It is an outlet for the unheard voices of the Pacific, to give greater prominence to their issues.
“Making a difference” is a lofty ideal to aim for, and us aspiring journalists need all the help we can get to reach it.
To that end, I am grateful for the opportunities and knowledge I have gained through the Pacific Media Centre and hope I can continue doing so, wherever I am in my career.