NUS Open day 2019

News & Events

You can be bright and colorful as you like with any ideas you may have while coming back home from a business trip whether fully or not funded by a donor. 

Hype it up in any which way you can but I’d feel, so long as I don’t loose for not making an effort to bring about not just any but necessary changes and apply best practices to my own little professional corner.

As a matter of fact, the last thing you’d want to hear is having those innovative ideas in a challenging environment where the means to implement it is not accessible or available at all.  Even if it is accessible and available, maintenance is another story and that’s where some funded projects are unsuccessful.

For the Media and Journalism Programme at the National University of Samoa (NU.S.), I used to think that because education, health, tourism and agriculture are the top priorities of government to invest in, media education under the N.U.S. umbrella in its role within the education sector, would receive as much attention as you like. Alas, i was too naive to think back then as a young journalist-turned-into-an-educator type who thinks it was that simple.

Since then the media and journalism programme had grown in terms of engaging international partners to assist.  Ask and you will be given.  

On the other hand, you won’t be given if you can’t produce.  Our international partners like U.N.E.S.C.O funded our first campus radio in a box which up to now, the young journalists are able to get their hands on training.  

This year alone is the first time that we have partnered with other three U.N. Agencies to mark the 2016 World Press Freedom Day (W.P.F.D) national event focusing on promoting Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.G’s). 

Special acknowledgement must also be made towards the U.N. Samoa Country Team who kindly funded the (ST) $500 cash prize for the Top Journalism Student  Award in the N.U.S. Annual Graduation in December 2015.  

This year for the first time in collaboration with U.N.Women to present the first Annual Media Awards to recognize the work of individual journalists and media organizations on publicizing and promoting women and politics during the 2016 General Elections. 

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P) and the Media and Journalism Programme held its first official Envrionmental Journalism Student Awards as a benchmark to allow young writers write more developmental and environmental stories given the extreme impacts of the changing climate on Samoa and the region.

The Australian government funded initiative Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (P.A.C.M.A.S) became the highlight of the programme history as we received over ST$120,000 worth of media recording equipment and furniture to equip our small newsroom.  Launched in 2011, things since then started to fall in place with the generous assistance of our partners. 

We can never forget our first mini video camera funded by the Journalists Association of Samoa (J.A.W.S).  Then we were fortunate enough to have another door opened to us for a video editing suite.  The United States Embassy in Apia came to the rescue in 2009.  It was then that we started our relations with the U.S. Embassy. 

International Visitor Leadership Programme (I.V.L.P)  Broadcast Journalism: New and Traditional Media/Multi-Regional Project

I, along with 20 other broadcast journalists are in the U.S. on a Department of State funded International Visitor Leadership Program (I.VL.P).  The program seeks to build mutual understanding between the United States and other nations through carefully designed professional visits to the US for current and emerging foreign leaders. 

Visitors under this program represent government, politics, education and many other sectors including the media.  The I.V.L.P Broadcast Journalism Project will run for a full month starting in Washington D.C. to Seattle, Washington before the group splitting assignment.  What the splitting assignment intends to achieve is for small groups to study regional and relatively small media outlets in various states in Austin (Texas), Cleveland (Ohio), Denver (Colorado) and Minneapolis (Minnesota).

RISE OF SOCIAL AND NEW MEDIA

Pretty much everyone now has the means to report what is going on in the world around them and the fact is, journalists are up against it.

Technologies have significantly shaped the way news is gathered, reported, distributed and consumed in most parts of the world and Samoa is no exception.

The influence of social media has consequently connect ordinary people and are doing the job of journalists everywhere.  I am not surprised at all with the way the American society has engaged in various media platforms exchanging ideas and expressing individualism.  How they got there is another story to be told in another day.

New media technology, such as social networking and media-sharing websites, in addition to the increasing prevalence of cellular telephones, have made citizen journalism more accessible to people worldwide. Due to the availability of technology, citizens often can report breaking news more quickly than traditional media reporters.

Notable examples of citizen journalism reporting from major world events according to Wikipedia are, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the 2013 protests in Turkey, the Euromaidan events in Ukraine, and Syrian Civil War and the 2014 Ferguson unrest. 

Again, we have seen numerous examples in Samoa where the media can’t be where the people are such as individuals secretly taking photographs from the polling booths during the 2016 General Elections, photograph of the deceased employee as a result of the recent fuel tank explosion, Cyclone Amos and to name several incidents or major events taking place in the country. 

But critics of the phenomenon, including professional journalists and academics who claim that citizen journalism is unregulated, too subjective, amateur, and haphazard in quality and coverage. 

The roles of the media certainly have also changed to accommodate this generational shift.  It has been noted that some traditional mainstream media organizations have closed down due to the rise of social media and digital technologies.  

The face of news has totally transformed in America and its impacting on the way the public have engaged.  Whilst the context application is changing, media and journalism literature has also changed ever since. 

Well, America has some of the brilliant minds in media and journalism education in which access to this literature is available first hand. 

Of course, we, and I say from a vast Pacific region we will continue to face these challenges.  On the other hand, status of internet connections in Samoa is on average basis that one could argue that should we continue to say that it has the most challenging speed and connectivity compared to Fiji, PNG and Tonga.

How can we effectively and efficiently use that low connection to teach our young ones about social media. 

On that note, do the young ones have a choice? should we force them into it? or can we still argue that western influences are changing the way our faasamoa has taught us from the beginning. 

What is our role as media educators? What is our role as first teachers in our society?  Are we too conservative to think that the faasamoa can accommodate the voices of young people today that these social media platforms have transformed their way of thinking and put ideas in their minds.

DIALOGUES IN PUBLIC POLICY AND THE MEDIA

Should we be engaging in more public dialogues (talanoa) to get the views of all sectors of society to find solutions and the best way forward. 

I posted this on my Facebook status this week on how i was taken aback with how Americans are engaged in dialogue sessions than regular boring seminars and panel discussions that we know of.

Am not saying we are doing it the wrong way but there’s room to think it over. It isn’t new for me but I tell you the world is too big to delve into.  It was the fall of 2007 that the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (C.S.I.S) and the Bob Schieffer College of Communication at Texas Christian University discussed creating a forum in Washington where top policymakers, journalists and policy experts could have serious, thoughtful, and nonpartisan discussions on foreign policy and national security issues.

As a result, it was launched in 2008 and I had the privilege of sitting there while Bob hosted the Dialogues in Public Policy and the Media.  Who is he again? Broadcast journalism’s most experienced Washington reporter who was with CBS. He has facilitated many Presidential debates and is an award winning journalist.  Oh well, it’s a long way to go before we get to have someone like Bob back home. 

But dialogue is a possibility. We just have to ask.

I look forward to what Seattle brings to the table this week.  Have a blessed Sunday Samoa!

HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE: Misa Vicky Lepou (Samoa), Bob Schieffer (Award Winning Former C.B.S Journalist) and Dina Crudu-Perciun (Moldova). 

 

  

Apia, 26 April 2016 –This evening, UN Women and UNDP, in partnership with the National University of Samoa’s Media and Journalism School, will be hosting an event to name the winners of the IPPWS Media Awards for Excellence in Gender-Sensitive Election Reporting in Samoa.

 

The awards were launched last February to promote and celebrate examples of balanced media coverage, promoting gender equality and women’s leadership in decision-making. The competition was composed of entrants who submitted their pieces for consideration in the broadcast and print categories, both from individual and media outlets, published from 1 November 2015 to 20 March 2016. Winners for the three categories will receive a gift certificate from Samoa Stationary and Books (SSAB) worth WST500.

 

“The aim of the IPPWS Media Awards is to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts made by reporters during the General Elections. Media played a critical role in challenging stereotypes, shaping public perceptions and improving the public’s understanding of women’s political participation. The initiative also promotes best journalism practices in the long-term.”–said the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Lizbeth Cullity.

The celebration, will be held at the STA Fale and is expected to start at 6:00pm. Professor Fui Le'apai Tu'ua 'Īlaoa Asofou So'o, NUS Vice-Chancellor, will be delivering the keynote address followed by Ms. Aleta Miller, Regional Representative of UN Women in the Pacific. Afterwards the winners and the guests are all invited to a reception. 

 

The Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa (IPPWS), is a joint programme between UN Women and UNDP, in partnership with the Government of Samoa and the Australian Government.

A Media Seminar to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day 2016 in Samoa will be held on Thursday, April 28 at the F.A.O Conference Room at Matautu Uta.

The World Press Freedom Day (W.P.F.D) is commemorated on May 3 every year.  U.N.E.S.C.O leads worldwide celebration by identifying the global themes and organising the main event.

Freedom of Information and Sustainable Development is one of the global themes for this year’s W.P.F.D celebrations.

With 2016 as the official year to strengthen global commitments on sustainable development through the promotion of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, U.N.E.S.C.O, U.N.D.P, F.A.O and the National University of Samoa’s Media and Journalism Programme are organising this seminar to highlight the significance role of the media in development and its many functions that can further the cause of improving the quality of life.

The main goal of the seminar is to realise the importance of the support from organisations to continuously empower the media through the free flow of information on sustainable development.

Freedom of information encompasses in the first instance the right to access information held by public bodies, which is conducive to participatory democracies, sustainable development, and good governance. It allows for public scrutiny, oversight, participation, and empowerment.

This seminar is an opportunity to establish effective partnerships between the media and communication officers from government organisations and engage in discussions and activities that will enhance the knowledge base of the media to inform and educate the communities with relevant, accurate and simple information on sustainable development.

Freedom of information is a fundamental freedom and a human right, inherently bound up with the broader right to freedom of expression. It covers the right to seek and receive information, and it complements the right to impart information which is the freedom to make information public via the right to press freedom.

In its dual dimensions of freedom of information and press freedom, freedom of expression is a right of high significance for other rights, as well as for sustainable development.

Freedom of expression helps move the 2030 Agenda forward by contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

In this way, freedom of expression as a whole is vital to achieving: “Public access to information and fundamental freedoms” - one of the targets of SDG 16.

Freedom of information defines the degree of openness and transparency within a society. Therefore any limitations on the access to information side of communications, impact on the imparting side, and vice versa. The two dimensions are essential for the full exercise of the right to free expression. 

Implementation of freedom of information raises issues such as whether the laws are well-known, in terms of high public awareness; whether requests are administered efficiently and whether there are high fees for the requester; and whether the average citizen understands how his health is affected not only because of climate change but of his because of his own lifestyle.

Journalism has a major role to play in actualizing the right to information in the interests of the wider public. But how much of our own Governments plan for Sustainable Development are well known and understood by the Media is a key question.

The seminar invites the participation of journalists, announcers, programme producers from media organisations in Samoa as well as communication officers from selected government ministries.

A statement of commitment to promote and publicise the Sustainable Development Goals is expected to be developed for participants at the end of the seminar. 

Correcting common inaccuracies in climate change reporting and ensuring the correct environment information is shared, was at the core of a one day training session for future journalists and Environment Ambassadors on the topics of biodiversity, climate change and marine pollution today.

The journalism students from the National University of Samoa and crew members of the Gaualofa came together at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) for the special training.

"One key aspect that both the journalism students and Gaualofa crew have in common is that they will both be sharing messages about our environment," said Ms. Nanette Woonton of the Communications and Outreach Unit of SPREP.

"We help where we can to ensure that when the time comes for students to write news about the environment they do so with confidence and accuracy. Likewise with the Gaualofa crew who will be sharing environment information and messages to people they come across when on voyage."

The training coordinated by SPREP has been an annual event with NUS since 2012, this is the first time the Gaualofa Crew are taking part and it is hoped this partnership will strengthen over the coming year.

To help ensure the information learnt is absorbed by the students, they are being tasked with developing news articles on any of the topics covered over the day. These will be judged with prizes awarded in commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day on 3 May this year and the winning stories showcased on the SPREP Facebook page.

"It was really interesting, I was always confused by some of the climate change terms which I found really technical but these were explained today and now they are very clear to me," said second year NUS journalism student Ms. Katalina Tovia.

"I really liked the interactive format of the training sessions today, all of it was really interesting, it made me think about how we take things for granted and we should understand that waste will pollute the sea and the fish, but keep in mind that we will be eating these and it can eventually come back to us," said Ms. Nefertiti Matatia, a first year NUS journalism student.

The crew of the Gaualofa also found today's training very helpful with plans in place for future training programs to strengthen their role as Environment Ambassadors when on voyage:
"It was good, very interesting – we're really keen on community impacts as that helps us share the message and information, when we can relate to it as Pacific islanders then we can share it confidently," said Captain of the Gaualofa Fealofani Bruun.

The one day training was held at the SPREP campus in Apia with presentations made by Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson on Environment Reporting, and from SPREP staff - Mr. Anthony Talouli on Marine Pollution, Mr. Peniamina Leavai on Climate Change and Ms. Easter Galuvao on Biodiversity and Nature Conservation.  Stories written by the NUS journalism students on today’s events will be shared on the SPREP Facebook page on 3 May, 2016 - the World Press Freedom Day.

Misa Vicky Lepou, a former multimedia journalist and current journalism lecturer has been appointed as Head of Media and Communication Department at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S).

Misa will be responsible for providing strong academic leadership within the Department and the Faculty of Arts in which the Media and Communication Department is housed under.

Her appointment has also received numerous congratulatory messages from the media and education industries in the region.

“Congratulations Misa, a long overdue appointment,” Founder of Avaiki Nius and Editor of Pacific Freedom Forum Jason Brown said.  “Big congratulations and best wishes at the top.”

 

Forum Fisheries Agency Media Officer, Lisa Williams whom Misa have worked together in various workshops in the region said: “Malo and congrats on the next level.”

“Congratulations Vicky. An opportunity to lead and put in place the things you've always had in your heart for Journalism students and N.U.S,” said Website Coordinator for Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (P.A.C.M.A.S) Ellenson Taurakoto.

Misa’s former Broadcast Lecturer during her university years at U.S.P. Dr. Mark Hayes also sent a congratulatory message: “Very well done, Misa Vicky. Excellent news indeed. Every success in your new and challenging role.”

Even from N.U.S. Pro Chancellor who was also Misa’s former Principal at the then Catholic Senior School had this to say: “Congrats and well deserved Misa”.

The former television producer and news reporter has a lot on her plate now to lead and manage the department’s limited resources especially the Media and Journalism Programme.

 

Following the news of another budget cut this year from the newly appointed Director of N.U.S Finance, Misa is optimistic that there is hope out there for media and communication development.  “There is funding opportunities available to anyone anywhere and anytime if we set our goals and priorities right,” Misa told N.U.S. Media. “Even if we set (those) to take us to the right path, if donors see it that we cannot deliver, we can’t be choosers in the end.”

 

“We are grateful of our established partners like UNESCO and PACMAS for always assisting us in the development of this programme,” Misa added.  “There is more to it than media work; as an institution we need the support of the public to respect the role of the media and how we communicate development in simple messages.”

 

“It was never a dream to hold a higher position for any personal reasons as I have always been supporting and do the ground work of ensuring that we do produce at least the much needed graduates to fill in the industry.”

“There is still a lot of work to be done in this area to ensure that the industry gets the number expected to fill in those newsrooms.”

 

“I have been in the institution for so long that I began to feel it is time to step up and take the lead.  It is also about time that the (media and journalism) studies to advance its qualifications.  Given that, we need more qualified lecturers and personnel to assist the programme in delivering its multi-outputs.”

 

When asked what those mulit-ouputs were, Misa added that the Media and Journalism Programme is currently delivering two media outlets which is the N.U.S. Media and Journalism School Facebook Page that delivers immediate news events daily as well as the Campus Radio Station.  The Programme also needs to look at having a real campus newspaper that serves the purpose of disseminating information across all sectors of the university especially having the students feel what a real newspaper is like.”

 

“There is more than just teaching, you are required as a lecturer to research and contribute to the community.”

Author of the Samoan Chapter in the World Press Freedom Report in 2012 titled: Punitive media laws vs. rhetoric of free speech, Misa is currently co-authoring a research paper along with Journalism educators from James Cook University in Townsville titled “Journalism Education in the Tropics of the Oceania (Indo-Pacific) Region”.

Media HOD, Misa Vicky Lepou

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