By Giff Johnson in Majuro
A five-day Media, Elections and Democracy workshop wrapped up last week in the Marshall Islands capital Majuro with the first-ever Summit on Democracy: Public Engagement, Communications and the Media.
More than 40 students, journalists and public information officers from government and NGOs participated in the programme organised by the Pacific Media Institute in the Marshall Islands.
The workshop featured an experienced team of Pacific Island journalist trainers and resource people led by Honolulu-based writer and photographer Floyd K. Takeuchi.
Nearly 20 journalists and college students from the Marshall Islands participated in a morning track of the workshop, while close to 30 PIOs from the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau took part in an afternoon workshop track.
The workshop focused on learning to “write tight”, with techniques such as haiku (a Japanese poetic writing style) and the four-paragraph story employed.
Numerous special presentations were offered during the lunch hours, including:
• How media organisations support independent journalism and what they’ve accomplished in Tonga and the Solomon Islands, led by Kalafi Moala, president of the Media Association of Tonga, and Georgina Kekea, president of the Media Association of the Solomon Islands.
• Domestic violence and prevention initiatives, led by Kathryn Relang, Country Focal Officer, Marshall Islands, Human Rights and Social Development Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
• Teieniwa Vision for Journalists: Anti-Corruption Reporting Toolkit for Journalists, led by Rimon Rimon, investigative journalist, Kiribati.
The workshop culminated in an all-day Summit on Democracy at the government’s International Conference Center.
It featured speeches by Marshall Islands President David Kabua and Nitijelā (Parliament) Speaker Kenneth Kedi, both of whom said they supported the summit concept from the time that Pacific Media Institute sought their endorsement early this year.
The Office of the Speaker co-sponsored the summit with Pacific Media Institute.
Guest speaker was Kalafi Moala who spoke about “Independent news media and traditional leadership: Can they live together?”
Each day of the workshop, including the summit, workshop participants, individually and in small groups, had writing assignments they delivered to the team of Pacific media trainers for review and editing.
Donor partners supporting the Media and Democracy workshops and Summit on Democracy include: AusAID, Republic of China/Taiwan Embassy in Majuro, USAID PROJECT Governance that is managed by the East-West Center and SPC, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Pacific Anti-Corruption Journalists Network, New Zealand North Pacific Development Fund, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Giff Johnson is editor of the Marshall Islands Journal and co-founder of the Pacific Media Institute in Majuro.