Journos on tour down under

Australian Emblem. Image by Dorah Gawi.

Passengers traveling to Brisbane on Air Nuigini flight PX 201 make your way into the departure lounge for boarding”.

This was the start of 5 weeks of fellowship training on Reporting of Economic Life within our communities, sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Journalism Center in Melbourne, Australia.

If your were like me, traveling to a foreign land, you would probably know about the nerves that some how accompany these trips overseas.

Will I get lost? I wonder what Melbourne is like? Will I even make it past customs in Brisbane, with all the recent hype on terrorism threats in the West?

A lot to think about within the 5 minutes I spent in the departure lounge in Port Moresby, but one that got me checking my pockets and bags continuously to make sure there were no betelnut, tobacco rolls or any other items that could probably get me pulled aside in customs.

Rest assured all went well, apart from the bomb tests I had to undergo in Brisbane, which totally freaked me out, but I remained cool, calm and collected.

And so the journey began for me and my other 9 colleagues; five from the Pacific and another 5 from Indonesia.


The first three weeks, was grueling, we started off with Psychologist Torrey Orton who took us through sessions on stress management, learning to negotiate and understanding the needs of people and how to approach them during interviews by structuring our questions properly.

And also learning that the human race all came out of Africa was intriguing, especially coming from Torrey who was more white, than most of the participants in the room.

The following weeks, Nigel McCarthy took us through sessions on creating graphs from economic data, how to read the stock market and how to go about generating stories in most of our economic situations in each of our countries.

Talk about a crash course in economics, I learnt more from Nigel in 2 weeks than a student majoring in Economics would probably learn in a year or more!

Blogging and Mobile Journalism? Now even though I have heard about these two forms of mediums, I have never tried it, until Renee Barns came along.

Thanks to her, I can now blog as much as I want, and even set up a blog site for the rest of the news team at FM 100, to create a forum for people to voice their opinions on issues.

Canberra and Sydney were the states chosen for our Professional visits, and though it was freezing in Canberra, we were all eager beavers when it came to touring the parliament house, sitting through the presentation of Australia’s 2011-2012 Budget speech by Treasurer Wayne Swan, (whom we got to have a quick chat to, by chance that is,) and other trips to the National Museum, Reconciliation Australia, and Canberra Times.

Australia National Parliament House Canberra. Image by Dorah Gawi

In warm Sydney, we visited The Reserve Bank of Australia, The World Bank, Choice Magazine, Asian Development Bank, ABC studio and the highlight of our stay in Sydney would definitely be the musical production of Mary Poppins, which by far was PRACTICALLY PERFECT!

So what have I learnt during these five weeks? Friendship and a lot of patience, and that no barrier or challenge is too hard to overcome, you just need the right tools to help you on your way.

In what way? You may ask? Take my colleagues from Indonesia for example, language may be a problem, because they do not speak fluent English unlike the rest of the contingent from the Pacific, but we got to understand and work alongside each other in 5 weeks.

And if we use that kind of attitude towards our reporting in learning how people relate to economic conditions in our own country, irrespective of where they are from, what language they speak and assisting them make informed decisions for their own well being, than I can feel satisfied that what I have learnt in Melbourne was worth while.

Jack Waterford Editor at large Canberra Times. Image by Dorah Gawi

The challenge for me now is to translate the concepts of what I have learnt from the APJC fellowship in to stories not just from an economic perspective, but all other stories as well, to help my people in PNG in order to be informed, and that’s the challenge I will work hard to achieve.

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