‘Voice of the Voiceless’: The Pacific Media Centre as a case study of academic and research advocacy and activism


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By David Robie in the Okinawan Journal of Island Studies

For more than a decade, the pioneering Pacific Media Centre at Aotearoa’s Auckland University of Technology led the way in journalism research and publication, publishing the globally ranked peer-reviewed journal Pacific Journalism Review, monographs, and a series of media and social justice books and documentaries.

Perhaps even more important was the centre’s role in nurturing young and challenging Asia-Pacific student journalists and communicators seeking social change and providing them with the opportunity, support, and encouragement to enable them to become confident changemakers and community advocates.

This article is a case study of a style of academic advocacy and activism that was characterised by its own multiethnic stakeholders’ advisory board as “the voice of the voiceless.”

A feature was the “Talanoa journalism” model (Robie, 2014), focused more on grassroots people and community resilience, especially faced with the global covid-19 pandemic and climate crisis.

The inspired initiative ended with a change of management to a more neoliberal approach to education at the university with scant appreciation for the vision.

Pacific Media Centre 10 years on – journalism under duress. Video: Sasya Wreksono/PMC

The Pacific Media Centre's Pacific Journalism Review celebrates 20 years in 2014. Image: PJR
Several of the cross-cultural teams involved in one of the Pacific Media Centre’s core publications, the Pacific Journalism Review, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. The cartoonist Malcolm Evans (riding a dolphin) has portrayed the crew on board a traditional double-hulled Polynesian environmental waka (canoe). Vanuatu photographer Ben Bohane sports sunglasses and an inevitable camera. The bearded author and founding editor, David Robie, is at the tiller. Current editor Philip Cass wears a hat and is carrying binoculars. Image: Malcolm Evans/PJR
David Robie
David Robiehttps://AsiaPacificReport.nz
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: http://asiapacificreport.nz/ David is also the founding editor of Pacific Journalism Review (PJR).
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