By Michael Andrew
A creative “grab bag” of projects has been unveiled by the Pacific Media Centre in a showcase of collaboration across academic and communication communities.
Held at Auckland University of Technology on Friday and hosted by PMC advisory board chair Associate Professor Camille Nakhid, the PMC “Midwinter Showcase” celebrated the launch of a double edition of Pacific Journalism Review, the 2018 Bearing Witness documentary Banabans of Rabi, the Pacific Media Watch Project – The Genesis video and the new PMC Online website.
Doctoral candidate and journalist Atakohu Middleton opened the night with a karakia before pro-vice chancellor and faculty dean Professor Guy Littlefair officially launched PJR – which focuses heavily on the New Zealand mosque massacre and media dilemmas of democracy – with a powerful and poignant speech.
Describing universities as the “critic and conscience of society”, Professor Littlefair lauded the value of the new PJR research in light of the media response to the March 15 atrocity.
He said how the privileged Pākehā narrative of New Zealand history made the violence of the attack all the more affronting for a media community consisting of mostly young, white journalists.
“This double issue of PJR that I have the privilege to launch tonight picks up on the narrative at precisely this point,” he said.
“’Dilemmas for journalists and democracy [PJR title]’ – these five words encapsulate for me the critic and conscience role of universities.
“This journal provides once again a magnificent example of the best, most relevant, most meaningful research that I as a dean could hope to see come from this wonderful faculty of ours.
“David and the team, I could not be more proud.”
The trailer for Banabans of Rabi.
Banabans of Rabi
Banabans of Rabi was then screened after an introduction by AUT screen production senior lecturer Jim Marbrook.
Marbrook, who helped produce the film, described it as a successful product of collaboration between journalism and screen production students.
He explained that film creators Blessen Tom and Hele Ikimotu had to overcome particular challenges to get to the remote Fijian island of Rabi and make the documentary.
“The philosophy of the Bearing Witness project is to go to areas that are under reported, that are quite difficult to get to; with that comes risks and complications.
“It’s kind of a pressure cooker situation to drop two students into.
“There is not a lot of power on the island, it’s isolated. Complicating that is the mix of languages; Fijian, Gilbertese and Banaban as well.
Blessen Tom then described filming on Rabi where scarcity of electricity meant that he had to be very selective with his choice of shots to conserve battery power.
Sri Krishnamuthi and Blessen Tom’s documentary about Pacific Media Watch.
PMW Project – The Genesis
Postgraduate communications student and former NZ Press Association journalist Sri Krishnamurthi introduced the Pacific Media Watch Project – The Genesis documentary which pays homage to the origins of the PMW media freedom project.
Through making the film with Blessen Tom, Krishnamurthi described learning about the project, from its creation in response to the wrongful arrest of three Tongans in the famous “contempt of Parliament” case in 1996, to its two decades since as a “watchdog of Pacific journalism.”
He stressed the value of the project and its role in the development of student journalists.
“The beauty of it is the use of student contributing editors – all of them will echo my sentiments; that this little gem which is invaluable as a guardian of Pacific journalism must be kept going for years to come.”
Finally, Tony Murrow of Little Island Press unveiled the new mobile friendly and robust PMC Online website, the product of almost two years of his team’s work in collaboration with the PMC.
He said the bold and colourful design reflected the vibrancy and diversity of the Pacific Media Centre.
The website is due to go live on www.pmc.aut.ac.nz in the coming days.
Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie acknowledged all those who had contributed and collaborated on the assortment of projects – including Pacific Journalism Review co-editors and collaborators Khairiah Rahman, Dr Philip Cass, Del Abcede, Nicole Gooch and Professor Wendy Bacon, whom he described as one of the best investigative journalists in Australia.