RNZ Asia Scholarship: AUT recipients

05 Apr, 2024
RNZ Asia Scholarship: AUT recipients
RNZ Asia scholarship recipients Chengqi (Mavis) Ye (left) and Nabeelah Khan (right).

A new RNZ scholarship programme, established with support from NZ On Air, that aims to reduce the financial burden associated with a postgraduate degree in journalism for students of Asian heritage has its first recipients, with Nabeelah Khan (of Fiji-Indian descent) and Chengqi (Mavis) Ye (of Chinese descent) set to receive up to $8000 for payment of one year’s fees and a two-week internship/work experience at RNZ.

Applicants were asked to complete a short essay detailing the current state of Asian representation in New Zealand media and identify specific ways they can increase and/or improve media contributions about and for Asian communities in New Zealand.

Nabeelah Khan is in the third year of a Bachelor of Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology, majoring in journalism with minors in screen production and psychology. Khan said rectifying the imbalance of Asian representation in New Zealand media was crucial.

“A key challenge with representing Asian narratives within New Zealand’s mainstream media is the difference in communication styles,” she wrote. “Asian cultures tend to follow a collectivist framework as opposed to the individualistic framework that Westernised cultures are accustomed to.”

The second scholarship recipient, Chengqi (Mavis) Ye, who is completing a Master of Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology this year and is a contributor to BusinessDesk, working collaboratively on investigations into the exploitation of Chinese workers, said mistrust was an issue with reporting on and for the Chinese community.

“Due to the strict news environment in China, they are not accustomed to seeking help from journalists,” she wrote. “We need more Chinese journalists to listen to Chinese voices, establish connections with them and make them understand the power of the media.”

The scholarship is part of the RNZ Asia service, launched in July 2023 and co-funded with NZ On Air, as part of a new initiative to speak to and report on issues in the growing Asian communities of New Zealand.

Elliott Samuels who heads the RNZ Asia unit said the continued success of these new channels depended on a continual pathway of promising Asian journalists coming into the industry.

“While Asian New Zealanders made up 15 percent of the New Zealand population at the 2018 census, they make up less than 5 percent of New Zealand journalists, suggesting that they are underrepresented in the industry,” he said. “The scholarships aim to remove financial barriers that might deter some in the community who would instead choose to work in other industries.”

NZ On Air says it is pleased to see the scholarship initiative increasing meaningful representation in local news media.

“It’s vital that stories are told by, for and about all audiences in Aotearoa. Genuine representation in our democracy is only achievable when communities have a strong voice in the fourth estate,” said NZ On Air Head of Funding Amie Mills.

Former RNZ News Foreign Editor Graeme Acton now heads the Asia Media Centre, part of the Asia New Zealand Foundation in Wellington. He says the issue of finding and retaining journalists from Asian backgrounds is vital for a strong and diverse news media in this country.

“The Asia Media Centre is right behind this initiative, breaking down the financial issue that has in the past often prevented these students from progressing into post-graduate journalism study," he said.

"We need these voices in our media, now and in the future. This scholarship programme is a vital step in that process.”

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