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Media and Human rights in the Pacific region

Brussels/Redfern, October 9th, 2015 (SIGNIS, The Walkley Magazine) One of the bestt researchers on media in the Pacific region is without any doubt David Robie, born in New Zealand in 1945. This journalist and media educator is specialised in the Asia-Pacific region.

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David Robie

In 1985, Dr Robie was on board of the Greenpeace eco-navy flagship Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed by French secret agents in New Zealand’s Auckland harbour (he published his experience in Eyes of Fire: the Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior ). Since then, he has been very sensitive about news in general and especially about official news coming from a government. He also has a critical website on media and politics, called Café Pacific.

In 1993-1997, Robie headed the journalism programme of the University of Papua New Guinea and, from 1998 to 2002, he worked for the University of the South Pacific. He is the founder and editor of the Pacific Journalism Review launched in Papua New Guinea in 1994 (you can watch here a mini-documentary about 20 years of publication of the review ). In 2005, he won the PIMA Pacific Media Freedom Award. Nowadays, he is the director of the Pacific Media Centre and teaches in the Communication Studies department of the Auckland University of Technology.

In 2014 he published Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific with a foreword by Kalafi Moala, which brings ’hidden stories of the Pacific’ media and communication about the region’s major issues of the past two decades such as the Fiji coups, Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville war and resource development crises, nuclear testing and health challenges, environmental degradation and climate change.

Brent Edwards remarked in The Walkley Magazine that Robie did not only provide his perceptive analysis of human rights and democracy, or lack of, in the Pacific, he also spent time commenting on journalistic practices, particularly as they relate to reporting on the region. For Edwards, who is not an expert on the Pacific, Robie’s book is a valuable reference to the significant issues that continue to bedevil the region. Edward’ noted that it is Robie’s comments on the practice of journalism that should excite the most debate: “He makes no bones about his distaste of the tendency of regimes and other vested interests in the region trying to suppress press freedoms, often by intimidation and threats (...) He praises those journalists throughout the region who struggle to do their Job in the face of intimidation, legal restraints and poor pay. (...)”.

It is also clear that Robie is defending a critical deliberative journalism in the Pacific, which is serving democracy, bringing awareness and insights into development social justice and peace issues. Ten years ago he published another well received book Mekim Nius: South Pacific Media, Politics and Education (University of the South Pacific, 2004)."

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