Study looks into the general state of investigative journalism in Pacific Island Countries
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Mr Shailendra Singh, former divisional head of Journalism at USP.
A recent research by a former media academic from the University of the South Pacific evaluating the general state of investigative journalism in seven Pacific Island countries proposes collaboration between media, civil society organisations and other social institutes to help strengthen capacity in this area.
The author, Mr Shailendra Singh, is former divisional head of Journalism at USP and former editor of The Review news magazine. He points out that lack of resources in newsrooms, lack of training for journalists and repressive environments pose major constraints for investigative journalism in the Pacific.
Mr Singh, who has widely researched and written on corruption and governance issues in Fiji and the Pacific, is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Queensland.
His paper, Investigative Journalism: Challenges, perils, rewards in seven Pacific island countries, was published in the latest Pacific Journalism Review, a media journal based at the Auckland University of Technology.
The paper looked at the environment for investigative journalism in Fiji, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Mr Singh writes that the Pacific media can overcome resource constraints and repressive environments by “working with the competition” - meaning rival media companies - on major stories and collaborating with other institutions central to Pacific island life, such as community-based civil organisations, academia and religious bodies.
Mr Singh states that despite the challenges, Pacific media has some comparative advantages. While newspapers may find it difficult to engage in investigative journalism due to daily deadlines and resource constraints, monthly-circulated magazines in the Pacific may have an advantage in this specialist area due to lower overhead costs and more time to work on stories.
Mr Singh said Fiji’s Review magazine rose from obscurity and boosted its circulation with some major exposés, such as the National Bank of Fiji scandal in the 1990s. He added that this gives magazines strong incentives to carry out investigative journalism.