Archive: Young and brave: In Pacific island paradise, journalism students cover a strange for a course credit


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By Sean Ransom, compiled from reports by USP journalism coordinator David Robie and USP student journalists Christine Gounder and Tamani Nair

Fiji’s young media corps had  front-row seat to a strange coup in the Pacific Islands earlier this year [2000].

On May 19, businessman George Speight led a group of armed rebels into Fiji’s Parliament, took the multi-ethnic government hostage and then waited as the nation’s military and tribal leaders gave into his demands one by one.

The situation ended ended 10 weeks later, on July 26, when Speight and many of his followers were arrested by Fiji’s army.

The military installed a new civilian government and called for elections in three years.

Covering this insurrection was a test for Fiji’s mostly young corps of journalists, who have an average age of 22, and average only 2.5 years of experience, according to University of the South Pacific journalism coordinator David Robie.

Robie writes that at first, some of them had trouble determining the legality of the would-be regime.

A few showed a too-swift readiness to give legitimacy to, and cozy up with Speight’s rebellion.

Fiji’s print media largely failed to give insightful and critical analysis.

Even when the media performed well, mob violence forced some shops to close their doors.

Cafe Pacific Publisher
Cafe Pacific Publisher
Café Pacific's duty editor.
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