Making science matter – Media seen as vital partners in sustainable development

Interactive Media Session.

2 September 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Apia – As the global community focuses its attention on partnerships at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) took an ‘unconventional’ approach by acknowledging the role of the media as key development partners.

Led by Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, SPC’s delegation to the SIDS Conference engaged in an interactive session with Pacific journalists from Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and local media representatives from Samoa’s print, television and radio organisations.

The aim was to create an ‘interactive media space’ to address challenges in covering the region’s sustainable development issues, identify workable solutions to strengthen the SPC-media partnership, and build rapport between Pacific journalists and SPC’s technical experts. Feedback from the journalists was encouraging.

“Although the session was structured, it was also informal making us feel very comfortable,” commented Dawn Gibson from the Fiji Times. Other journalists from across the region agreed.

Members of the SPC delegation appreciated hearing first-hand from media representatives how best to communicate scientific and technical knowledge to multiple audiences, especially on the 14 thematic areas discussed at the conference.

Responding to the question of how to turn a scientific report into something newsworthy, Heather Maraki, Head of Radio News in Vanuatu, put it clearly and simply: “All you need to do is link information to livelihoods”.  This is straightforward advice, but not always easy to follow, as a couple of SPC’s technical staff highlighted.

On the topical issue of investing in communication at an organisational level, Dr Tukuitonga was pleased to announce that SPC will shortly appoint a Corporate Communications Director. The new director will focus on better communication with SPC’s stakeholders, especially its Pacific Island stakeholders, and will also work on improving internal communication.

Fundamental to this interactive session was the strengthening of the SPC–media partnership as SPC acknowledges the critical role of the media in bridging the gap between availability of information on one side and people’s interests and development needs on the other.

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