Two student journalists at the University of the South Pacific (USP), recently received a high commendation from the Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA).
Second year Journalism students Arin Kumar and Fenton Lutunatabua, received the runner-up prize for their investigative story published in the USP journalism student training newspaper, Wansolwara, in April 2009.
The ‘Ossie Awards’ are an annual event commending the work of journalism students from around the South Pacific region, New Zealand and Australia. The awards, named after journalist Osmar White, are organised by The Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA) and judged by media executives in Australia and NZ.
Prizes are awarded in 15 categories for news and feature writing, current affairs reporting and student publications. The USP pair was commended in the “Best Print News Story by an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Student” category.
The judges were Mike Osborne, Editor, Australian Associated Press; Joanne Williamson, News Editor, Australian Associated Press; and Phil Dickson, Editorial Manager, Australian Associated Press.
Mr Kumar and Mr Lutunatabua’s story looked at the psychological side effects of internet, or online gaming on the young people of Suva. The story exposed the mental, social and physical damage associated with online gaming. Their investigation highlighted students skipping school to play online games at 24-hour play centers, misuse of money and lack of parents' supervision of their children's activities.
Because of the article, Government and the Fiji Police Force ordered the reduction in operation hours for online gaming providers from 6am to 5pm.
Mr Lutunatabua said the article was supported by most members of society. "This is a problem that everyone knows about, but no one has actually been able to stop it," he said.
With the USP Pair receiving the runner-up prize, the winner for this award was Krista Ferguson of Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, for her story, ‘Charities Find Dance Flaw’, published in the Sunday Star-Times and Sunday News, August 16, 2009.
The head of USP Journalism, Shailendra Singh, congratulated the two students. “The student reporters exposed and brought to public attention a major social problem in Fiji, resulting in government intervention,” said Mr Singh.
Wansolwara has won the most Ossie awards of any publication in Australia, NZ or the Pacific (10, plus it scooped the pool in 2000 with the online and print coverage of the George Speight coup).
For 13 years, the newspaper has been self-funded by the students through advertising revenue. This year, the USP School of Journalism struck a deal with a local daily newspaper, the Fiji Sun, to publish Wansolwara as a liftout.