PJR

Social stigmatisation, cultural coercion, and peer-pressure faced by Pacific student reporters: A Wansolwara student press case study in problem-based learning

Shailendra Singh, Eliki Drugunalevu

Abstract

This set of three case studies, with elements of problem-based learning, examines how the University of the South Pacific (USP) journalism students deal with social pressure applied by their peers, and the impact on learning. This is becoming an urgent and increasing concern due to the new, global realities of trolling and cyber bullying. This article is part of ongoing research into applied learning and teaching through the USP journalism student training newspaper, Wansolwara. The first case study deals with social stigmatisation, the second with intimidation, and the third with assault and cyber bullying. This article argues that social pressures are both a threat and an opportunity. As unpleasant as the hostile reactions are, they are a reality of practising journalism. Student reporters’ exposure to such confronting situations provides an early taste of real world journalism. The learning outcomes show that the experience toughens students’ resolve. For those bearing the brunt of the vitriol, coping mechanisms such as guidance by lecturers, support from the fellow journalism students, family encouragement, and due recognition of their journalistic work, are critical. This article contends that unlike physical harm, psychological harm to student journalists is overlooked. This trend is risky, especially in the digital media age, and needs to be addressed.  

Keywords

culture, cyber bullying, Fiji, Pacific Islands, problem-based learning, Samoa, social pressure, trolling, USP Journalism Programme

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