The last 10 years has been difficult for journalism in Papua New Guinea.
The primary institutions for journalism training – DWU and UPNG – have seen a dip in the quality of students who graduate.
I say this as a recruiter.
I have seen badly written job applications. Poor language skills for journalism graduates and a lack of understanding of what the profession demands. In various interviews, a few come seeking salaries that I wouldn’t recommend as a recruiter.
Many more come seeking the “glamour” supposedly offered by television. There is none. It is hard work.
After traveling back and forth from Lae to Port Moresby and Madang, I found that the quality of journalism has suffered because of the lack of attention the programs have received. Funding levels have dropped steadily over 15 years forcing programs to remain in a quagmire where a quota is met and quality is not.
UPNG’s journalism program is struggling to produce quality journalists with very little resources. DWU has to contend with legacy equipment in an age where a convergence of multiple industry technologies has already happened and is rapidly evolving.
In short, journalism training in PNG universities are 15 years behind in this rapid technological evolution.
Both the UPNG and DWU programs are a shadow of their former selves. Students are not being trained in an environment where multimedia newsroom production is central to their operations.
There is also a serious shortage of journalism trainers and lecturers in the university system. The current staff work under trying conditions to mold students who came through a primary and secondary school system that failed them in their early years.
Lecturers have to correct secondary school errors left unfixed by secondary school teachers.
That has a detrimental effect on the whole country.
While the public demands high quality journalism to counter the increase in corruption, our universities can’t meet that demand. Papua New Guinea universities need a significant investment in both equipment and training. The funding is relatively cheaper than other programs.
During brief conversation with the Chairman of the DWU Council, Archbishop Doug Young, I expressed the need to have a discussion with him on funding and equipment. He expressed how expensive equipment is. We agreed on the same.
Getting equipment, funding and recognition of the importance of journalism is a long difficult road.
But without eyes and ears on the ground and without properly trained people, it adds to a potent destructive recipe for despotism in every aspect of society and government.
*This is a personal post and I am looking for funding support for Divine Word University. If you have any suggestions, do let me know.