Archive: USP student coverage of the ‘internet coup’ in Fiji 2000


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Crisis coverage by University of the South Pacific journalism students

An archive of the exclusive University of the South Pacific journalism programme coverage of the Fiji coup by George Speight in May-August 2000. This was published by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ) after the students’ own website was closed by the USP administration.

David Robie and journalism students at the University of the South Pacific reported the George Speight coup in Fiji on their website Pacific Journalism Online [now Wansolwara Online].

The original site was closed down by the University of the South Pacific (USP) administration on 29 May 2000 in response to threats, and new stories about the Fiji crisis were not permitted to be published on the Fiji site.

For three months, University of Technology, Sydney, journalists Fran Molloy and Kate MacDonald published stories and photographs from Fiji journalism students and USP staff on the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ) website — now zip file archived in the UTS Library.

Index page here to a live archive.

Frontline Reporters: USP student reportage of the 2000 Fiji coup  Video: USP Journalism 2000

The site was designed and set up within hours by Fran Molloy, and with the support of ACIJ director Chris Nash and head of the journalism department Wendy Bacon, the USP journalism students were able to have their stories published shortly after they were filed.

The USP students subsequently won several awards for their online (and print) coverage of the coup in the annual Journalism Education Association (JEA) Ossie Awards 2000, including best regular publication in the Australia/NZ and Pacific region.

Awards went to Pacific Journalism Online and the students working on Wansolwara.

David Robie is an award-winning New Zealand investigative journalist who has reported on the 1987 coups and many other issues and events in the Pacific. He was then running the USP journalism programme.

He is founding editor of Pacific Journalism Review and a graduate of the UTS Master of Arts (Journalism) programme.

Broadcaster Pat Craddock, then with the USP Media Centre, was also a key leader of efforts by the journalism team to communicate the coup to the outside world.

The Pacific Journalism Online site was restored, and remained a successful South Pacific news site until March 2007. It later became Wansolwara Online. A mirror of the Wansolwara special coup online edition of the newspaper established by former USP design lecturer Mara Fulmer in the US.

David Robie
David Robie
Dr David Robie was previously founding director and professor of journalism at AUT’s Pacific Media Centre (PMC). He worked with postgraduate student journalists to edit Pacific Media Watch - a daily digital archive of dispatches about Pacific journalism and media, ethics and professionalism. The PMC also jointly published the high profile independent Pacific Scoop news website with industry partner, Scoop Media, and Asia Pacific Report, which David now edits independently in partnership with Evening Report: David is also the founding editor of Pacific Journalism Review (PJR).
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