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Yukta and Viliame announced ‘Most Outstanding Student of the Year’ in Pacific journalism

“Your influence goes beyond the classroom; it shapes the future of journalism in the Pacific and beyond.”

By MONIKA SINGH

FREEDOM of press is a cornerstone of any vibrant democracy and it’s our collective responsibility to safeguard and protect it, says Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Timothy Masiu.

Mr Masiu was chief guest at the 2023 University of the South Pacific Journalism Students Awards function in Suva on Friday where he announced a new era of co-operation between USP Journalism and PNG media fraternity in training, development and research.

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Image: Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Timothy Masiu delivers his address. Image: STUDENT PHOTOGRAPHERS

The announcement was hailed by the Head of USP Journalism, Associate Professor Shailendra Singh who stated that it was a milestone event between news media in the two largest countries in Melanesia and the Pacific.

“Earlier this year USP Journalism signed a historic MoU with the PNG National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) which has the full support of the Honourable Masiu and the general manager of NBC. It was an honour to welcome them to our awards night under the auspicious of the MoU to see how we can advance journalism through training and research in Fiji and PNG.

“We are very much encouraged by the Honourable Minister’s remark this evening,” said Dr Singh.

On his part Mr Masiu said the NBC could play an even more greater role in training and mentoring journalism students in the Pacific. He said in a region as rich and diverse as the Pacific, where cultures, languages, and perspectives converge, the role of journalism became even more crucial.

“The USP Journalism Awards not only recognises excellence in reporting, but also the commitment to ethical journalism, unbiased storytelling, and the pursuit of truth,” said Mr Masiu.

“In an era where information flows abundantly, the responsibility of journalists to uphold these principles has never been more critical.”

While recognising the hard work and dedication put in by the student journalists in their stories, Mr Masiu took the time to acknowledge the challenges that journalists face in the pursuit of truth through their stories.

“Today, we recognize the hard work, dedication, and exemplary storytelling that have emerged from the vibrant and diverse community of journalists who have made their mark within the USP.”

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This year 16 students from the USP Journalism Program were recognised for their outstanding achievements in journalism. The awards this year were sponsored by the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation, The Fiji Times, Islands Business, FijiLive and Sports World.

“The journalists we celebrate today have embraced this responsibility with vigour, showcasing the power of words and the impact they can have on shaping our world,” said Mr Masiu.

Being a former journalist himself, Mr Masiu said the role of journalism as the 4th Estate cannot be understated; the role of journalism was pivotal in our society, serving as the watchdog, the voice of the voiceless, and the bridge that connects communities.

To the School of Journalism faculty heads and mentors who guided these aspiring journalists, Mr Masiu thanked them for their dedication to nurturing the next generation of storytellers.

“Your influence goes beyond the classroom; it shapes the future of journalism in the Pacific and beyond.”

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Image: PINA president Kora Nou left, PNG’s Minister for Information & Communication Technology, Timothy Masiu and Head of the Journalism Program at USP, Associate Professor Dr Shailendra Singh, during the cheque presentation. Image: STUDENT PHOTOGRAPHERS

$10,000 support for USP Journalism Program

The event also included presentation of a $10,000 cheque by the PNG government to the USP School of Journalism program as part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) singed between the University of the South Pacific (USP) School of Journalism and the PNG National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) on June 19, 2023.

The minister described the collaboration as a testament to the recognition that the exchange of knowledge, resources, and expertise was essential in nurturing the next generation of journalists who will shape the narrative of our region.

Signifying more than just a formal agreement, he said the MoU represented a shared vision for the future of journalism training and mentoring in the Pacific.

“Through this collaboration, students will have the opportunity to engage with seasoned professionals, gaining insights into the ever-evolving landscape of journalism.

“I request that the USP School of Journalism or wider USP will have appropriate programs to upskill or re-train our deserving NBC staff who are non-journalists.”

Dr Singh acknowledged the support from the PNG government for the USP Journalism Program. He pointed out that the USP Journalism this was the longest running and most consistent journalism awards in the Pacific in any category. He paid tribute to the founder of the awards – Professor David Robie, adding that it would be good for journalism if national media awards were revived in Fiji and other regional countries.

“Journalists carry out a crucial function – sometimes it’s a thankless task. Our best journalists should be recognized and helped in their work,” said Dr Singh.

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Image: Winners of the 2023 USP Journalism Awards with the PNG Minister for Information & Communication Technology, Timothy Masiu, seated centre, flanked by PINA president Kora Nou on his left and Head of the Journalism Program at USP, Associate Professor Dr Shailendra Singh, at the function on Friday. Image: Student Photographers

The winners of the 2023 USP Journalism Awards:

  • The Fiji Times Most Promising First-year Student: Riya Bhagwan
  • The Fiji Times Best News Reporting: Aralai Vosayaco and Nikhil Kumar
  • FBC Best Radio Student: Josepheen Tarianga
  • FBC Best Television Students: Nishat Kanti and Maretta Putri
  • Sports World Best Sports Reporting: Sera Navuga
  • Islands Business Best Feature Reporting: Prerna Priyanka and Viliame Tawanakoro
  • Islands Business Best Regional Reporting: Lorima Dalituicama
  • FijiLive Best Online Reporting: Brittany Nawaqatabu
  • FBC Most Outstanding Journalism Student of the Year: Yukta Chand and Viliame Tawanakoro

Awards sponsored by the Journalism Students Association:

  • Wansolwara Outstanding Reporting Award: Ema Ganivatu
  • Best Inclusive Award, Best Editorial Team, and Best Professional Award: Nikhil Kumar
  • Team player Award: Ivy Mallam
  • Students Choice Award – Andrew Naidu
  • Outstanding Social Service to USP Community – Rhea Kumar

This news article was first published in Wansolwara and has been republished here with the kind permission of the editor(s).

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