Alfred Sasako of the Media Association
of Solomon Islands

Solomon Island Workshop Attracts 37 Journalists and Students To Discussion of Conflict and Culture Sensitive Reporting

The Conflict and Culture Sensitve Reporting Workshop, held May 21-23 in Honiara in the Solomon Islands, was designed to help Pacific Islands journalists better understand how violence creates trauma for both victims and Journalists themselves and to explore ways to
decrease trauma in such situations.

The agenda included sessions on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, interviewing victims of violence and disasters and specific cases of violence in the Solomon Islands and other areas of the Pacific.

Special attention was given to violence and trauma involving children and women in the Pacific Islands. This was highlighted by a chilling talk by Lovelyn Kwaoga of Family Support Centre in Honiara. The participants became focused on the problems, and several hours of intense and committed discussion followed.

The workshop preceded a Pacific Islands News Association biannual meeting in Honiara.

The workshop grew out of discussions among Alfred Sasako of the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI), Dr. Jim Richstad, who has spent much of his career working in the Pacific, and Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia. MASI was host for the PINA conference.

The workshop introduced guidelines for cultural sensitive reporting beyond trauma effects.

Solomon Islands is slowly emerging from four years of civil unrest [1999-2003], which had left many, particularly children and women, traumatized. As such, a workshop dealing with post-conflict and culture sensitivity reporting was considered most appropriate and timely. The attendance attested to this fact.

The workshop leaders, participants and speakers examined personal experiences as well as academic material from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and from International Media Support.

The 37 members of the workshop--about one-third professionals and the rest journalism students in Honiara-- were divided into five discussion groups. Each examined a topic of its choice. Three selected Rape Trauma, one studied Ethnic Violence, and the other Child Abuse.

The workshop was jointly funded by the National Commission of UNESCO (Solomon Islands) and the Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources. It was held in the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation Conference Room.

A similar workshop on violence and trauma was organized by the Cox Center and the Pacific Islands News Association in Madang, Papua New Guinea, in 2001.

Dr. Becker was unable to attend the 2007 workshop because of a family health emergency. Sasako and Richstad served as discussion leaders.

The Cox Center is a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Participants for PINA Conference "Conflict and Cultural Sensitive Reporting" May 21 - 23 in Honiara, Solomon Islands.