Cover picture from May edition 2011 from the Kunda Dixit exhibition 'Frames of War'.
The Pacific Journalism Review, founded at the University of Papua New Guinea in 1994, is a peer-reviewed journal covering media issues and communication in the South Pacific, Asia-Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. It is now published by the Pacific Media Centre, AUT University, and has links with the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism and the University of the South Pacific.
Call for papers for the next edition: www.pjreview.info/submissions
While one objective is research into Pacific journalism theory and practice, the journal is also expanding its interest into new areas of research and inquiry that reflect the broader impact of contemporary media practice and education.
A particular focus will be on the cultural politics of the media, including the following issues – new media and social movements, indigenous cultures in the age of globalisation, the politics of tourism and development, the role of the media and the formation of national identity and the cultural influence of New Zealand as a branch of the global economy within the Pacific region. It also has a special interest in environmental and development studies in the media and communication – and vernacular media in the region.
On 3 May, 2013, AUT University’s Pacific Media Centre marked the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day with the inaugural event in New Zealand. The event was initiated by UNESCO’s Programme for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace with the first seminar on ‘Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Media’ in Windhoek, Namibia, on 3 May, 1993. The journalists participating in that event drew up the Windhoek Declaration which highlighted that press freedom should be understood as a media system that is free, pluralistic and independent. They insisted that that this dispensation was essential for democracy and development. The Declaration became a landmark document in the fight for press freedom around the world. This address argues that new ethical codes of practice are now needed that are inclusive of serious bloggers and citizen journalists. The author of this address states: ‘The printing press spawned free expression’s offspring—the right of “press freedom”—as pamphleteers fought censorship by governments in the ensuing centuries. Events are unfolding much more quickly now. It would be an historic irony and a monumental shame if press freedom met its demise through the sheer pace of irresponsible truth-seeking and truth-telling today’. Watch the lecture on the Pacific Media Centre YouTube channel
Over recent years in Australia we have seen a number of big stories emerge which highlight the difficult legal positions in which journalists too often find themselves. One of the biggest was Gina Rinehart’s attempts in Western Australia to have journalists reveal their sources for stories which were published regarding the legal battles she had been fighting against her own children. Another involved the 2009 counter-terrorism operations in Victoria that were apparently reported, somewhat controversially, on the front page of The Australian several hours before they had occurred. While, a third case was what Australian Twitter users dubbed the #TwitDef saga, where The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell claimed that he had been defamed by Australian journalism academic Julie Posetti, who had simply tweeted what a former News Corp journalist had said publically during the 2010 JEAA conference.
THIS ISSUE of Pacific Journalism Review engages with the theme of the dynamics of fame in a small country. In contrast to the dominant focus in the newly emergent field of Celebrity Studies on celebrity as a global phenomenon, the emphasis in this issue is on the interface between the global and the local; on questions of how the distinctiveness of national and local values fares when caught up in or of willingly imitating the circulation of global fame and influence. Accounts of celebrity often focus on the notion of fetishism—the complex process through which specific idols become objects of veneration on whose admirable or even infamous qualities are presented as emanating from the inner recesses of a luminous personality. The importance of this aspect of celebrity and celebrity worship is not to be denied. But there is another feature of celebrity and stardom that complements and energises the engagement of fans, the interest of the general public and the ambitions of the press and media to create and sustain a market for copy. Celebrities and stars are also totems that create a sense of unity, an imagined community. Individuals express and explore a sense of collective identity, define rituals of belonging, separate themselves from others and manage the relationship between society and nature—in the case of celebrities, the nature in question, is most often, human nature (Rojek, 2012, pp. 130-131). In the case of small countries, like New Zealand, the internal impact of Hollywood stars and celebrities on American popular culture is intensified by the fact that the celebrity system is a totemic import. Patterns and processes for rewarding talent and ascribing fame that have reached the acme of intensity in Global Hollywood, interface with locally situated systems of beliefs and values. This might be seen as a process of colonisation—and to an extent it is.
The best journalists are invariably good interviewers, whether they are interrogating a Cabinet minister or getting a shy refugee to open up about her struggle to find work. Excellence in interviewing comes with experience. So when the visiting scientist lapses into technical jargon at his press conference, it’s usually the most experienced journalist in the room who asks ‘the dumb question’.
Unlike the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, where celebrities are often subjected to derision in the tabloid media, the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, the country’s longest-running women’s magazine, respects and values its local celebrities. A content analysis of cover lines on the magazine over the past eight decades reveals that although the magazine has adhered to a steadfast formula of celebrating mothers and wives, there has been a steady shift to a focus on the love lives and scandals of foreign celebrities. More recently, however, the magazine has turned its attention to well-known New Zealanders and developed its own brand of celebrity news.
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