Media perspectives on the issue of climate change in the Pacific

CAPTION: Professor David Robie.

Members of the University community are being treated to a series of discussions on issues relating to the Pacific region and rim during the 12th Pacific Science Inter-Congress (PSIC) which is being hosted by the University of the South Pacific.

A panel made up of Pacific media experts, met today and discussed at length, the significant impacts of journalists in the awareness and distribution of information relating to environmental issues, especially climate change.

USP academic, Dr Sky Marsen did a comparative analysis of articles from Fiji newspapers and those from New Zealand, and found that coverage of a global event did not have a significant impact on local reporting on environmental issues.

USP journalism academic who is currently pursuing his doctoral thesis, Mr Nash Sorariba, talked about the media’s role in the reporting of environmental issues, which are prevalent in the Pacific and go hand in hand with more grave topics of concern such as corruption, in Papua New Guinea.

“It is important to identify how the media reports on issues, because when discussing about environmental degradation as is the gist of my thesis, you get to uncover many underlying issues. Land problems could indicate the depth of corruption, and this has been seen in many of the case study analyses that have been carried out in PNG,” Mr Sorariba said.

Professor David Robie, a distinguished longstanding Pacific scholar, who was also on the panel expressed his delight at being part of the great science meet.

“Climate change is the most vital, geographic story of our time,” he said, adding that it is an entirely different realm which needs a wide arena of discussion.

According to Professor Robie, who has also been a former head of the Division of Journalism at USP, the issue of climate change needs to be expressed in alternative mediums to those that have been used by writers to date.

“What is really needed is a new ‘media morality’,” he added, saying that media houses, if not journalists occasionally treat climate change as just another issue, when it is in effect a bigger topic, and need not be part of ’50-50 journalism’.

Many local, regional and international academics and scholars are presenting at the 12th PSIC, which is a platform for discussion and debate to identify the ideal methods for the Pacific to attain human security and sustainable development.


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