Dr. Jim Richstad and Rieko Hayakawa of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation

Micronesian Journalists Create Association After Meeting for Two Days in Saipan

Journalists meeting in Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in late September formed the Micronesian Media Association to promote professional development, facilitate the exchange of regional news and provide support to members.

Among the goals of the organization is the development of training opportunities for its members. Dr. Lee B. Becker from the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia participated in the meeting and discussed training opportunities for journalists.

The group of journalists met September 24-26 at the Aquarius Beach Hotel on Saipan dedicated themselves to promoting a free and independent Micronesian news media to ensure wide public access to information.

The journalists said they need training, particularly in such areas as newsroom management, writing styles and various types of specialized reporting.

Rieko Hayakawa, Jayvee Vallerjera
Floyd Takeuchi, Frank Rosario, Laila Younis-Boyer, Abed Younis, Giff Johnson, Francis Hezel,Lelani Reklai, Lee Becker, Jim Richstad.

Lelani Reklai, who with her husband recently created the biweekly Island Times in Palau, said “we went in to this with more heart than actual knowledge about newspapers.” She is currently serving as co-publisher of the newspaper with her husband.

Floyd Takeuchi, publisher of Pacific Magazine organized the meeting, which was held with sponsorship from the Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund in Japan.

The Pacific Island Fund is a program of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Japan. Rieko Hayakawa, project coordinator of the Pacific Island Nations Fund, attended the Saipan meeting.

The journalists agreed to provisionally found the Micronesian Media Association and to include as members newspapers, television stations, radio stations, magazines, and regional Web sites in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Guam, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Nauru.

All of those states except Kiribati and Nauru had been protectorates of the United States after World War II. Tentative plans are for a follow-up meeting in 2008 that would include news organizations from across the Micronesian region.

The group selected an interim secretariat and executives. Takeuchi will serve as interim chairman. Francis X. Hezel, SJ, director of the Micronesian Seminar, will be interim vice chairman. Frank S. Rosario, Pacific Magazine’s Saipan correspondent, will be interim executive director.

The Micronesian Media Association will be affiliated in its initial stages with the Micronesian Seminar, which is based in Kolonia, Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The group plans to develop bylaws, membership categories and programming, including regional news media awards.

Dr. Becker explained the long relationship of the Cox Center with media in the Pacific Islands and indicated he would work with the newly formed Micronesia Media Association to help it meet its training needs. The Cox Center is a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Others attending the Saipan meeting were: Giff Johnson, editor, Marshall Islands Journal; Laila Boyer, general manager, and Abed Younis, publisher, of the Marianas Variety in Saipan; Jayvee L. Vallejera, editor, Saipan Tribune; and Dr. Jim Richstad, a journalism educator from Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

Dr. Richstad has collaborated with the Cox Center on numerous programs in the Pacific, including a program he developed in collaboration with the Cox Center in the Solomon Islands in May.