USP Journalism staff with Ben Bilua (second right). Picture: WANSOLWARA
Final year USP journalism and law student Ben Bilua from Solomon Islands has been chosen as one of only two university journalism students in the region to win an international fellowship in Denmark after competing in an Australasian student journalism project across 27 institutions.
The fellowship prize winners were among hundreds of students across Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, who took part in the multimedia project, encompassing a three-day television broadcast, radio show, and podcast series as well as published work on The Junction.
The collaborative Constructive Journalism: Making a Difference 2020 project, is part of The Junction, a national journalism initiative that publishes the best student journalism from 27 universities and colleges across the region.
The fellowship was also awarded to Jack Meehan of Swinburne University.Meehan’s piece was about the implications of the Australian Government’s drive for increased gas production while Bilua’s piece focused on how home gardens were supporting local economies in the Solomon Islands during the Covid-19 pandemic. The judges described it as a detailed story, which suggests solutions and provides a strong constructive approach.
“I am most grateful and appreciative to the Judith Neilson Institute for making the Constructive Journalism Making a Difference 2020 project possible,” Bilua said.
“Thank you to The Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia, The Junction team esteemed judges, and staff at The University of the South Pacific
's Journalism Programme. I am very humbled and excited at the same time. I hope to learn more about this opportunity.
“For me, constructive journalism has broadened my understanding of journalism and the concept of making a difference through various approaches.
“I chose to focus on the growing importance of home gardens in Solomon Islands and Fiji because it not only supports local economies but also promotes food and agricultural sustainability in light of the hardships brought on by COVID-19.
“These are the realities on the ground, the socio-economic impacts that continue to affect a great number of people.”
The students will attend the Independent Center for Constructive Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark for one month when international borders open. The institute was set up by journalist and former broadcaster Ulrik Haagerup, as a response to the increasing tabloidisation of news.
The editor of The Junction, Andrew Dodd, said they were delighted with the quality and range of the work submitted by the next generation of emerging journalists.
He said the Constructive Journalism project is a real showcase for their skills and ideas.
USP Journalism submitted two articles for the project, including a piece on preserving the endangered Rotuman language by final-year journalism student Shreya Kumar.
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