Emmy and other award-winning academics to highlight 2024 Pacific Media Conference in Fiji 

"This conference is not just about journalism but about democracy and freedom of speech as a whole.”

By Monika Singh

High-profile, award-winning journalists and journalism academics will join their regional media counterparts to address the 2024 Pacific International Media Conference in Suva, Fiji, this week.

They include a three-time Emmy Award-winning television news producer from the United States, a widely published award-winning journalism academic and author based in Hong Kong, a recently honoured Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, a finalist in the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, and a renowned investigative journalist from New Zealand.

- Advertisement -

Professors Emily Drew, Cherian George, and David Robie, alongside Irene Liu and Indira Stewart, will speak on wide-ranging topics related to media and development in the Pacific, from an international perspective.

Among the vibrant roster of local presenters is the dynamic Fiji and Pacific gender equality advocate, Executive Director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Nalini Singh.

Nalini Singh, Executive Director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement; Image Source: Supplied
Nalini Singh, Executive Director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement; Image Source: Supplied

Organised and hosted by The University of the South Pacific, in collaboration with the Pacific Islands News Association and the Asia Pacific Media Network, the conference will be held at the Suva Holiday Inn from July 4-6, under the theme “Navigating Challenges and Shaping Futures in Pacific Media Research and Practice.”

The opening ceremony on July 4 will feature Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Communications, Manoa Kamikamica as the chief guest. Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Timothy Masiu, will also attend and serve as the chief guest at the conference dinner on the first day.

With three Emmy Awards and seven nominations to her name, Professor Drew is currently teaching on a fellowship at her alma mater, Davidson College in North Carolina, where she holds the position of visiting James K. Batten Professor of English.

Prof. Emily Drew, fellow at, Davidson College in North Carolina; Image Source: Supplied
Prof. Emily Drew, a fellow at Davidson College in North Carolina; Image Source: Supplied

She will speak on “Investigative Journalism in the Age of Newsroom Burnout: Causes, Symptoms, and Strategies.”

- Advertisement -

Regarded as a thought leader in media studies, and known for his groundbreaking research on censorship and press freedom, Hong Kong-based Professor George, originally from Singapore, will speak on the topic of, “Cracks in the Mirror: When Media Representations Sharpen Social Divisions.”

Hong Kong-based Professor Cherian George; Image Source: Supplied

Former coordinator of USP Journalism, Dr Robie, will deliver a keynote address on “Frontline Media Faultlines: How Critical Journalism Can Survive Against the Odds.

Dr David Robie, Former coordinator of USP Journalism; Image Source: Supplied

Ms Irene Liu will host a roundtable discussion on “Media Sustainability in the Pacific: The Role of Government, Industry, and Funders.” She is focusing on a grant program aimed at supporting Pacific media.

Irene Liu; Image Source: Supplied

This session will provide media representatives and stakeholders an opportunity to explore potential support and collaborations.

Television New Zealand’s award-winning journalist Stewart, known for her fearless reporting and in-depth investigations, will facilitate a Talanoa session titled “Experts on Deadline: Enriching News Reporting on Complex Topics in the Pacific through Science — Climate Change, Natural Hazards, Health Crises, Food Security.” Steward was the finalist for two Voyager Media Awards and a NZ Radio Award.

New Zealand’s award-winning journalist Indira Stewart; Image Source: Supplied

Conference Theme

Associate Professor in Pacific Journalism and conference convener, Shailendra Singh, emphasised the importance of addressing Pacific media issues in light of global changes affecting the sector, hence the lineup of international and Pacific regional speakers.

“Pacific media have not escaped global trends such as digital disruption and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention recent geopolitical developments,”

said Dr. Singh, who heads the USP Journalism Program.

He added, “Journalism’s advertising-based revenue model has been upended, raising major concerns about the financial sustainability of media organisations. Editorial viability hinges on financial stability, posing potential risks to the future of journalism.”

“These are some of the issues the conference aims to address through discussions and research, to arrive at viable solutions. This is not just about journalism but about democracy and freedom of speech as a whole.”

The conference will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Pacific Journalism Review and launch the book, ‘Waves of Change: Media, Peace, and Development in the Pacific,’ co-edited by Dr Shailendra Singh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad, and Dr Amit Sarwal, the book has been published under a collaboration of Australia’s Kula Press and India’s Shhalaj Publishing House.

In addition to the conference, a side cultural event “Connecting Diaspora: Pacific Prana” exhibition has also been organised from 3 July to 28 August at the USP Oceania Arts Centre on the Laucala Campus.

The conference will feature more than 50 speakers from 11 countries —Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Singapore and Tonga.

The major sponsors of the conference are the United States Embassy in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu and the International Fund for Public Interest Media, based in Paris. The other supporters include the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, the New Zealand Science and Media Centre, and the Pacific Women Lead from the Pacific Community (SPC).

Contributing Author: Monika Singh is editor-in-chief of Wansolwara, the online and print publication of the USP Journalism Programme.

Support Our Journalism

Global Indian Diaspora and Australia’s multicultural communities need fair, non-hyphenated, and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. The Australia Today – with exceptional reporters, columnists, and editors – is doing just that. Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, or India you can take a paid subscription by clicking Patreon and support honest and fearless journalism.