State of the Pacific 2021

Inside of the Hedley Bull Building, ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

An engaging discussion between practitioners and informed experts will consider the latest developments regarding media freedom in the Pacific region.

Pacific Island countries have varying levels of media freedom. An ability for the mainstream media to conduct enquiries without hindrance or fear of reprisal is an important element of a democracy.

To what extent are journalists able to carry out their work in the Pacific? Have emergency measures designed to address the COVID-19 pandemic created obstacles for reporters on the ground? Economic downturns have occurred, caused by pandemic response measures, such as the sudden halting of inbound tourism into the region.

Have news media outlets experienced decreases in advertising revenue? What effect has this had on news-gathering capabilities? Have economic pressures led to the closure of media outlets? The discussion will aim to address these questions and more.

Moderated by the departments Dr Amanda Watson, this seminar will provide attendees with up-to-date insights about what is happening on the ground with respect to media freedom in Pacific Island countries.


Bernadette Carreon is a Palau-based journalist. She writes for the local Palau newspaper Island Times and is a regular contributor for The Guardian Pacific Project and Marianas Business Journal. She is the founder of the new online website Pacific Note, in partnership with Pacific Island Times. A journalist for 21 years, she has been a correspondent for various international news agencies including Kyodo News, Radio Australia, Agence France Presse and Radio New Zealand. Bernadette is the Micronesian chair of the media freedom watchdog Pacific Freedom Forum. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Santo Tomas.

Kalafi Moala is an award-winning journalist who has served in Tonga and the Pacific region for over 30 years. He is the former founder of Taimi Media Network, which published the Taimi ‘o Tonga newspaper, and operated FM Radio 88.1. He is currently the founder of Talanoa ‘o Tonga website specializing in investigative journalism and coverage of issues of national importance to the Kingdom of Tonga. 

Georgina Kekea is a freelance journalist in Solomon Islands, and a member of the Melanesian Media Forum. She has been in the media industry in Solomon Islands for two decades and has extensive experience in radio, television and print media.

Shailendra Singh is head of journalism at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, with a doctorate from the University of Queensland. He is an experienced Pacific journalist previously with The Fiji Times; The Review and Pacific Business;; associate editor of the Daily Post. Shailendra is a member of the advisory board of the Pacific Journalism Review. His main research interests include media and politics, media development, conflict reporting, and media and gender, with a Pacific focus.

STATE OF THE PACIFIC 2021 - Media Freedom in the Pacific: A COVID-19 era update