Report by Pacific Media Centre Research

From the cover of Alex Perrottet’s MCS thesis.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The term “development journalism” has been used for four decades in Asia, but in the Pacific and even more so in Western countries such as New Zealand and Australia, the term is met with scepticism, particularly from working journalists. There is extensive debate in the Pacific about the role of development journalism, but little consensus on what it actually means. Some have called for a “unique Pacific approach” to the media but many share concerns that such an undefined approach is simply a veiled capitulation to state censorship (Dixit, 2010; Hanitzsch, 2007; Obijiofor & Hanusch, 2011; Papatsouki & Harris, 2008; Romano, 2010; Seward, 1999; Singh & Prasad, 2008; Robie, 2004, 2014). With the evolution of Pacific journalism academia, and the perennial global discussion about how much advocacy there can be in a fair, balanced and accurate journalistic work, this thesis examines whether there is a model of development journalism practised in the Pacific, and whether “development” is a news value for the Pacific, as distinct from developed countries. It also examines what Pacific newsrooms need to do in a development communication context. Through a case study comparing the approach of Fiji, Vanuatu and New Zealand newspapers in their coverage of the 2011 Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Auckland, a content analysis reveals a range of distinct approaches and priorities. What emerges is an argument that greater analysis is required in Pacific reporting and a greater reliance on Pacific authorship of that analysis, in order to realise an effective brand of development journalism.

Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.