USP Welcomes International Media Expert for Landmark Pacific Media Conference


The University of the South Pacific (USP) Journalism Programme hosted renowned media studies professor Cherian George at the 2024 Pacific International Media Conference in Suva last week.

Conference chairperson, Associate Professor in Pacific Journalism Shailendra Bahadur Singh, said it was an honour to host a scholar of George’s calibre, whose research is highly relevant to divided and transitional societies like Fiji.

Originally from Singapore, George delivered a keynote address at the conference titled “Cracks in the Mirror: When Media Representations Sharpen Social Divisions,” followed by a public lecture, “The Role of the Media in Democratic Transition in Divided Societies,” at the University of Fiji.

Professor Cherian George from the Hong Kong Baptist University School of Communication, left, with Conference chairperson, Associate Professor in Pacific Journalism Shailendra Bahadur Singh.

Based at the Hong Kong Baptist University School of Communication, George is the author of several internationally acclaimed and best-selling books on media and democracy. His 2016 monograph, Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy (MIT Press), was named one of the best 100 books of the year by Publishers Weekly.

His book, Red Lines: Political Cartoons and the Struggle Against Censorship (MIT Press, 2021), was honoured by the Association of American Publishers as one of the year’s top three scholarly books in both the Media & Cultural Studies and Graphic Nonfiction categories. His best-selling collection of essays on Singapore includes Air-Conditioned Nation Revisited (2020).

The USP Journalism Programme hopes to see George back in Fiji and the Pacific in the not-too-distant future, as his work remains relevant to regional countries.

The Pacific media conference at the Suva Holiday Inn was attended by over 100 delegates from 11 countries to deliberate on the theme, “Navigating Challenges and Shaping Futures in Pacific Media Research and Practice.”

It was the first conference of its kind in 20 years, held at a critical time for the Pacific media sector, which is struggling financially and editorially due to revenue loss from the digital disruption, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Singh, the head of the USP Journalism Programme, stated that the conference provided a better and updated understanding of the media situation in the Pacific and future directions. He said that the continued monitoring of the state of Pacific media is necessary and ongoing discussions are still required.

The conference was supported by the United States Embassy in Fiji, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu; International Fund for Public Interest Media; Pacific Media Assistance Scheme; Fiji Women’s Rights Movement; New Zealand Science Media Centre and Pacific Women Lead – Pacific Community (SPC).

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