FRONTLINE: ‘Voice of the voiceless’: The Pacific Media Centre as a case study of academic and research advocacy and activism
For more than a decade, the pioneering Pacific Media Centre at Aotearoa’s Auckland University of Technology led the way in journalism research and publication, publishing the globally ranked peer-reviewed journal Pacific Journalism Review, monographs, and a series of media and social justice books and documentaries. Perhaps even more important was the centre’s role in nurturing young and challenging Asia-Pacific student journalists and communicators seeking social change and providing them with the opportunity, support, and encouragement to enable them to become confident changemakers and community advocates. This article is a case study of a style of academic advocacy and activism that was characterised by its own multiethnic stakeholders’ advisory board as ‘the voice of the voiceless’. A feature was the ‘talanoa journalism’ model (Robie, 2014), focused more on grassroots people and community resilience, especially faced with the global COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis. The inspired initiative ended with a change of management to a more neoliberal approach to education at the university with scant appreciation for the vision.
Original DOI as first published in the Okinawan Journal of Island Studies (Japan):
Abplanalp, K. (2012). ‘Blood money’: A NZ investigative journalism case study. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 18(1): 128-47.
Bacon, W. (2012). Frontline: An innovative direction in academic journalism. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 18(2), 153-65. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v18i2.270. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v18i2.270
Bohane, B. (2013). The black islands: Spirit and war in Melanesia. Waka Press.
Bohane, B. (2014). Photoessay: Melanesian mythical places with unreported conflicts: A portrait. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 20(2), 142-61.
Bohane, B., & Dean, B. (2006). Photoessay: Ben Bohane’s portrayal of spirit and war in Melanesia. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 12(2), 157-74.
Cass, P., & Robie, D. (2020). Editorial: Under the pandemic siege. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 26(2), 7-14. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v26i2.1157. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v26i2.1157
Collectif Argos. (2010). Climate refugees. Introductions by Hubert Reeves and Jean Jouzel. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Delahunty, C. (2011). Letter to the Director of the Pacific Media Centre, 9 November 2011. Appendix (p. 28) to David Robie (2013), Pacific Media Centre Strategic Review 2013-19: A research component of the School of Communication Studies. https://bit.ly/3ANz8L1.
Dhabuwala, A., & Aumua, T J. (2016, April 27). Daku has a climate message for the world: ‘Tell them to believe it.’ Asia Pacific Report. http://asiapacificreport.nz/2016/04/27/daku-has-a-climate-message-for-the-world-tell-them-to-believe-it/.
Dixit, K. (1997). Dateline earth: Journalism as if the planet mattered. Inter Press Service.
Dixit, K. (ed.). (2007). A people war: Images of the Nepal conflict 1996-2006. Publication Nepalaya.
Dixit, K. (2010). Dateline earth: Journalism as if the planet mattered (revised edition). Inter Press Service.
Duffield, L. (2015). Publishing: Pacific Journalism Review: Twenty years on the front line of regional identity and freedom. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 21(1), 18-33. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v21i1.145. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v21i1.145
Duffield, L. (2022, December 4). Pacific Media Centre gutted in blow to journalism on the Pacific islands. Independent Australia.
Eyes of fire: Thirty ears on. (2015). Pacific Media Centre, Little Island Press and Greenpeace. [Microsite.] https://eyes-of-fire.littleisland.co.nz/.
Fairbairn-Dunlop, P., & Coxon, E. (2014). Talanoa: Building a Pasifika research culture. Dunmore Publishing.
Forrester, G. (2020, May 5). Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern praised for ‘master class’ response to COVID-19 crisis. Stuff.
Freire, P. (1997). The pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-25349-4_25
Fuatai, T. (2021, March 30). Future of AUT’s Pacific Media Centre under spotlight following director’s departure. The Spinoff. https://thespinoff.co.nz/media/30-03-2021/future-of-auts-pacific-media-centre-under-spotlight-following-directors-departure.
Halapua, S. (2013). Talanoa in building democracy and governance. Paper presented at the Future Leaders of the Pacific Conference, Pago Pago, American Samoa, February 4-7, 2013.
Harris, U. (2019). Participatory media in environmental communication: Engaging communities in the periphery. Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315622576
Ikimotu, H, & Tom, B. (co-directors). (2019). Banabans of Rabi—A story of survival. Pacific Media Centre. [Video]. https://youtu.be/ZUWXXpMoxDQ.
Johnson, G. (2020, July 8). How New Zealand’s media endangered public health. Al
JOUR801-Asia-Pacific Journalism Studies (2020). AUT paper descriptor. https://paperdescriptorreport.aut.ac.nz/PaperDescriptor/PaperDescriptor?courseCode=JOUR801
JOUR810-International Journalism Project JOUR810. (2020). AUT paper descriptor. https://paperdescriptorreport.aut.ac.nz/PaperDescriptor/PaperDescriptor?courseCode=JOUR810
Marbrook, J. (2015). Cap Bocage: Tracing the militant voice of environmental protest in New Caledonia. Pacific Journalism Review, 21(2), 110-24.
Marbrook, J., Abcede, D., Robertson, N., & Robie, D. (eds.) (2017). Conflict, custom & conscience: Photojournalism and the Pacific Media Centre, 2007-2017. Auckland, NZ: Pacific Media Centre. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjm.v0i7.18
Maslog, C., Robie, D., & Adriano, J. D. (2019). Science writing and climate change. Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC).
Merrill, J. C. (1977). Existential journalism. Iowa State University Press.
Miller, J. (2011). ‘Seeing the wood for the trees’: Media coverage of the Ngatihine forestry block legal dispute 1976-8. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 17(1), 175-193. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v17i1.378. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v17i1.378
Moala, K. (2010, October 6). Moala warns over ‘new forces’ in Pacific media freedom struggle. Pacific Media Watch. https://pmc.aut.ac.nz/pacific-media-watch/region-moala-warns-over-new-forces-pacific-media-freedom-struggle-7062.
Morris, R. (2017). Watching our words: Perceptions of self-censorship and media freedom in Fiji. Pacific Journalism Monographs, 6. https://ojs.aut.ac.nz/pacific-journalism-monographs/issue/view/6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjm.v0i6.7
Nakhid, C. (2020). Chair’s report. In Pacific Media Centre Annual Review 2020. https://www.aut.ac.nz/rc/ebooks/38610-3d-issue/index.html.
Nash, C. (2016). What is journalism? The art and politics of a rupture. Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-39934-2
Neilson, M. (2016). Pacific way: Auckland’s Pasifika community diaspora media. Pacific Journalism Monographs, 5. https://ojs.aut.ac.nz/pacific-journalism-monographs/issue/view/5.
Pacific climate Bearing Witness 2017: We’re running out of time’. (2019). Pacific Media Centre [Video]. https://pmc.aut.ac.nz/projects/asia-pacific-journalism-projects-and-internships-2019-4588.
Pacific Journalism Review. (n.d.). About the journal. https://ojs.aut.ac.nz/pacific-journalism-review/about.
Pacific Media Centre. (2020). Pacific Media Centre Annual Review 2020. https://www.aut.ac.nz/rc/ebooks/38610-3d-issue/index.html.
Pacific Media Centre Books. (2020). https://www.autshop.ac.nz/pacific-media-centre/.
Pacific Media Watch. (2013, December 7). Fiji torture series wins Pacific Media Watch editor trauma journalism prize. Café Pacific: Media Freedom and Transparency. http://cafepacific.blogspot.com/2013/12/fiji-torture-series-wins-pacific-media.html.
Pacific Media Watch Project–The Genesis. (2019). Pacific Media Centre. [Video]. https://youtu.be/xvd-iwd7LZA.
Perrottet, A., & Robie, D. (2011). Pacific media freedom 2011: A status report. Pacific Journalism Monographs, 1. https://ojs.aut.ac.nz/pacific-journalism-monographs/issue/view/1. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v17i2.356
Pronin, E., Lin, D. Y., & Ross, L. (2001). The bias blind spot: Perceptions of bias in self versus others. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(3), 369-81. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167202286008
Robie, D. (1986). Eyes of fire: The last voyage of the Rainbow Warrior. Lindon.
Robie, D. (1989). Blood on their banner: Nationalist struggles in the South Pacific. Zed Books.
Robie, D. (2004). Mekim nius: South Pacific media, politics, and education. University of the South Pacific Book Centre.
Robie, D. (2009). Impartial? No, this is a tribute to a people’s suffering. Pacific Journalism Review, 15(2), 230-4. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v15i2.998. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v15i2.998
Robie, D. (2012). Coups, conflicts and human rights: Pacific media challenges in the digital age. Pacific Journalism Monographs, 2. https://ojs.aut.ac.nz/pacific-journalism-monographs/issue/view/2. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1326365X13498168
Robie, D. (2013). Conflict reporting in the South Pacific: A critical, reflexive approach to Timor-Leste and West Papua. Media Asia, 40(2), 147-61.
Robie, D. (2014). Don’t spoil my beautiful face: Media, mayhem and human rights in the Pacific. Little Island Press.
Robie, D. (2015). Advocating journalism practice-as-research: A case for recognition in the New Zealand PBRF context.” Asia Pacific Media Educator, 25(1), 62–73. https://doi.org/10.1177/1326365X15575591. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1326365X15575591
Robie, D. (2016b). Frontline: The Rainbow Warrior, secrecy and state terrorism: A Pacific journalism case study. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 22(1), 187-213. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v22i1.19. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v22i1.19
Robie, D. (2017). Indonesian double standards over press freedom endanger safety of Papuan journalists. Media Asia, 44(1), 40-7.
Robie, D. (2018a). Asia Pacific Report: A New Zealand nonprofit journalism model for campus-based social justice media. Ikat: The Indonesian Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 2(1), 119-46. https://doi.org/10.22146/ikat.v2i1.37395. DOI: https://doi.org/10.22146/ikat.v2i1.37395
Robie, D. (2018b). Bearing witness 2017: Year 2 of a Pacific climate change storytelling project. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 24(1), 155-77. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v24i1.415. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v24i1.415
Robie, D. (2019). Karoronga, kele’a, talanoa, tapoetethakot, and va: Expanding millennial notions of a ‘Pacific way’ journalism education and media research culture. Media Asia 46(1-2), 1-17.
Robie, D. (2021, June 19). How the ‘voice of the voiceless’ kaupapa became derailed at the Pacific Media Centre. Café Pacific. [Blog].
Robie, D. (2023). Media and academia: The intriguing case of the Pacific Media Center. Media Asia, 50(2), 286-298. https://doi.org/10.1080/01296612.2022.2118802. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01296612.2022.2118802
Robie, D., & Chand, S. (2017). Bearing witness 2016: A Fiji climate change journalism case study. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 23(1), 186-205. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v23i1.257. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v23i1.257
Robie, D., & Krishnamurthi, S. (2020). Frontline: The sociology of a pandemic: Countering a COVID ‘disinfodemic’ with a campus media initiative. Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa, 26(2), 179-200. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v26i2.1131. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v26i2.1131
Robie, D., & Marbrook, J. (2020). Bearing witness: A Pacific climate crisis documentary and journalism development project. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 30(1), 77–91. https://doi.org/10.1177/1326365X20945417. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1326365X20945417
Ruru, K. (2023, January 5). Employment court orders AUT to scrap redundancies. Stuff. https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/300778740/employment-court-orders-auckland-university-of-technology-to-scrap-redundancies.
Singh, S. B. (2020). Pacific islanders’ talanoa values and public support point the way forward. In Agnes Gulyas and David Baines (Eds.), The Routledge companion to local media and journalism (pp. 468-76). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351239943. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351239943-53
The New York Times. (2020, April 30). In a crisis, true leaders stand out. [Editorial]. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/30/opinion/coronavirus-leadership.html.
The New Zealand Herald. (2023, January 20). AUT fined and told to start redundancy process again from scratch. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/aut-fined-and-told-to-start-redundancy-process-again-from-scratch/A4336J7MJZBL3NHL4N7DMIMISA/.
The PMC Project—a Pacific Media Centre Profile. 2016. Director: Alistar Kata. [Video, Pacific Media Centre]. https://youtu.be/NVHmYYjCUHM.
Tovao, F. L. (2022, December 3). Māori and Pacific academics at AUT concerned about impact of job cuts. The New Zealand Herald.
Whoopi Goldberg praises Jacinda Ardern as ‘voice of reason’ amid COVID-19 pandemic. (2020, April 20). 1News. https://www.1news.co.nz/2020/04/27/whoopi-goldberg-praises-jacinda-ardern-as-voice-of-reason-amid-covid-19-pandemic/.
Copyright (c) 2023 David Robie
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.