From L-R: Shazia Usman (Pacific Women Shaping Development), Rachna Lal (Fiji Sun), Erica Lee (PIPSO), Rachna Nath (Fiji TV) PHOTO: Lowen Sei
Four leading journalism alumni of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) addressed journalism students recently at a forum hosted by the School of Journalism on what it takes to overcome gender bias and to succeed as students and as professionals.
The panel included Fiji Sun Business Editor Ms Rachna Lal, Fiji TV Senior Business journalist, Ms Rachna Nath, Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Communications Officer Ms Shazia Usman and Communications and Research Officer for Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), Ms Erica Lee.
All speakers had held senior editorial positions on the USP journalism student training newspaper, Wansolwara, and won various awards.
They talked about the challenges they faced as students and what to expect when entering the job market.
Ms Rachna Nath, who won The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Best Young Television Journalist Award in 2009 for a series of documentaries on Close Up, started at Fiji TV straight out of high school, before enrolling with USP Journalism School.
She said that, “some things one learns in a journalism school, you do not get a chance to learn in the field, such as defamation, court reporting, ethics and so on.”
Ms Nath graduated with a Degree in Journalism in April 2014 and is currently pursuing her Postgraduate Studies in International Relations and Diplomacy at USP.
Ms Erica Lee, who won the Vice-Chancellor’s award for the Best In-Depth and Investigative Report in 2005 and 2006, described herself as an “introvert” who came out of her shell due to the collegiality and friendships she formed at USP.
She urged students to take their studies seriously and also stressed the need to make friends with fellow students, who will become “friends for life” and form a valuable USP journalism alumni network.
Ms Rachna Lal, who won the USP Journalism Student of the Year Award in 2009 said that life as a journalist can be tough, but satisfying.
“Meeting story deadlines is important and working extra hours is the norm,” she said.
Ms Shazia Usman won the Newsroom Tanoa Prize for the Journalism Student of the Year in 2006.
She said that one of the advantages of the journalism programme is that the intake is comparably small so students can form strong bonds with each other and get more time with the lecturers.
Ms Usman reminded students to be goal-oriented and make the most of their professional attachment with news organisations as it provides a good indication of what to expect in a working environment.
She completed her Master’s Thesis (2011) on Print Media Portrayal of Female Election Candidates in Fiji.
The session convener, journalism Teaching Assistant Mr Eliki Drugunalevu said that the aim of the discussion was to showcase leading journalism alumni to motivate students and make them aware of what they had as the potential to achieve.
“Judging from the attendance and number of questions directed at the panelists, it was a very successful session,” he said.
First year journalism student Ms Vilimaina Naqelevuki said that listening to the panel was beneficial as it reinforced the importance of her role as a future journalist.
Final year student, Duane Mar said that the discussions gave him great insight into how journalism is not singly linked to mainstream press media, as it also branches out into communications and public representation.
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