Eight Pacific Island Journalists Learn Design

Eight Pacific Island journalists practiced page layout and graphic design as part of a three-day workshop organized by the Pacific Island News Association and the Cox Center in October.

The workshop took place Oct. 5-7 in Suva, Fiji Islands, and was attended by journalists from five different Pacific Island nations. All work for indigenous language publications.

The workshop was the fourth in as many years targeted toward indigenous language media in the Pacific and sponsored by PINA and the Cox Center. PINA and the Cox Center have collaborated on training workshops each year since 1991.

"Most of our readership has been taken away by the English language media," Samisoni Kakaivalu, editor of the Fijian language newspaper Nai Lalakai, said in opening the workshop. "What can we do to retain our readership and market? One of the most important things is design. How can we design the newspaper differently to appeal to the people we want to reach?"

Kakaivalu led participants in a discussion of the mission of their publications in an effort to identify the specific needs of the indigenous language media in the area of graphic design.

Instructors for the workshop were: Wilson Lowrey, former graphic designer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who is currently working as a graduate assistant in the Cox Center; Ian Rolls, graphic arts specialist for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community; and Dr. Jim Richstad, a private international journalism consultant from Seattle. Cox Center Director Dr. Lee B. Becker also assisted with the workshop program.

The workshop was held at the Media Centre of the Secretariate of the Pacific Community in Nabua, Fiji, outside the capital city of Suva.

The workshop included a discussion of "modernist" newspaper design as practiced in the United States and Western Europe, a "quick course" on PageMaker software, and a demonstration of other software that can be used in graphic design.

Participants presented plans for a graphics package to illustrate a major story and designed a front-page using page design software.

The journalists in the workshop came from the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, and Vanuatu. The workshop was organized so participants could stay in Fiji and attend the PINA conference, which began Oct. 7 and continued through Oct. 11 in Suva.

Included in the PINA conference was the official opening of the organization's web site (www.pinanius.org). The site is intended to help link PINA member organizations across the Pacific.

Dr. Becker and Dr. Richstad also held a session at the PINA conference on International Journalism Education and Training for the Multimedia Age. Dr. Becker gave an overview of journalism education in the United States and Europe and discussed challenges facing journalism educators today. Dr. Richstad gave an overview of training in Asia and the Pacific region.

Dr. Richstad is a specialist on the media in the Pacific and has participated in Cox Center workshops in the region during the last decade.

Dr. Becker used the opportunity of the PINA conference and the 1999 Cox Center workshop to interview journalists who had participated in past Center workshops. The interviews are part of an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Center's work in the Pacific region and an investigation of the role of the indigenous language media in the region's future.