Palestine protesters call for Gaza press ‘solidarity’ at NZ media awards

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Palestinian protesters at the media vigil tonight calling for solidarity with the Gazan journalists being killed in Israel’s war on the besieged enclave. Image: Evening Report, Selwyn Manning.

Pacific Media Watch

Pro-Palestinian protesters dressed in blue “press” vests tonight staged a vigil calling on New Zealand journalists to show solidarity with the media of Gaza who have suffered the highest death toll in any war.

They staged the vigil at the Viaduct venue of NZ’s annual Voyager Media Awards.

Organised by Palestinian Youth Aotearoa (PYA) and People for Palestine (P4P), supporters were making a stand for the journalists of Gaza, who were awarded the 2024 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize earlier this month.

Fathi Hassneiah of PYA condemned the systematic killing, targeting and silencing of Palestinian journalists by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) throughout the war on Gaza that is now in its eighth month.

Global media freedom watchdog groups have had differing figures for the death toll of Gazan journalists, but the Al Jazeera network says 142 have been killed.

Often the families of journalists have been martyred alongside them, Hassneiah said.

A media spokesperson, Leondra Roberts, said PYA and P4P were calling on “all journalists in Aotearoa to stand in solidarity with the courageous journalists of the Gaza Strip who continue to report on what the International Court of Justice has called a plausible genocide”.

Maori journalists commended
She commended Kawea Te Rongo (Māori Journalists Association) for their support for their Palestinian colleagues in November 2023 with co-chair Mani Dunlop saying: “Journalists and the media are integral to ensuring the world and its leaders are accurately informed during this conflict …

“Daily we are seeing stories of journalists who face extreme brutality . . .  including the unconscionable worry of their families’ safety while they themselves risk their lives.

“It is a deadly trade-off, every day they put on their press vest and helmet to do their job selflessly for their people and the rest of the world.”

PYA spokesperson and musician Rose Freeborn appealed to journalists reporting from Aotearoa to critically examine Israel’s treatment of their peers in Gaza and called on “storytellers of all mediums to engage with Palestinian voices”.

“We unequivocally condemn the mass murder of 105 journalists in Gaza by the IDF since October 7, as well as Israel’s longstanding history of targeting journalists across the region — from Shireen Abu Akleh to Issam Abdallah — in an attempt to smother the truth and dictate history,” she said.

She criticised the “substandard conduct” of some journalists in New Zealand.

Media industry ‘failed’

Broadcaster, singer and journalist Moana Maniapoto . . . speaking to the Palestinian protesters tonight
Broadcaster, singer and journalist Moana Maniapoto . . . speaking to the Palestinian protesters tonight. Image: PYA/P4P

“At times, the media industry in this country has failed not only the Palestinian community but New Zealand society at large by reporting factual inaccuracies and displaying a clear bias for the Israeli narrative.

“This has led to people no longer trusting mainstream media outlets to give them the full story, so they have turned to each other and the journalists on the ground in Gaza via social media.

“The storytellers of Gaza, with their resilience and extraordinary courage, have provided a blueprint for journalists across the globe to stand in defence of truth, accuracy and objectivity.”

A Palestinian New Zealander and P4P spokesperson, Yasmine Serhan, said: “While it is my people being subjected to mass murder and ethnic cleansing in the Gaza Strip, it is the peers of New Zealand journalists who are being systematically targeted and murdered by Israel in an attempt to stop the truth being reported.”

RNZ News reports that RNZ won two major honours tonight at the annual Voyager Media Awards, which recognise New Zealand’s best journalism, with categories for reporting, photography, digital and video.

RNZ was awarded the Best Innovation in Digital Storytelling for their series The Interview and longform journalist te ao Māori Ella Stewart took out the prize for Best Up and Coming Journalist.

Le Mana Pacific award went to Indira Stewart of 1News, and Mihingarangi Forbes (Aotearoa Media Collective) and Moana Maniapoto (Whakaata Māori) were joint winners of the Te Tohu Kairangi Award.

Some of the Palestine protesters taking part in the vigil in support of Gazan journalists
Some of the Palestine protesters taking part in the vigil in support of Gazan journalists at NZ’s Voyager Media Awards tonight. Image: ER
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