Pacific NiusBeat

Saturday, April 5, 2014

REGION: Pacific media mourn death of islands editor

The late veteran editor Laisa Taga
RAROTONGA (6 April 2014) - Pacific Islands news media are in mourning following the death of Islands Business International (IBI) editor-in-chief Laisa Taga on 4 April.

"There is no similar outlet across our vast region, nor is there an editor that touched as many lives as she did," said Pacific Freedom Forum chair Titi Gabi.

"Through her many correspondents, Laisa Taga was a watching eye, and listening ear, of the myriad issues facing all our island states."
Taga was the long-time editor of a magazine that provided a monthly drumbeat of coverage unequalled for its regularity and consistency, said Gabi.

"It is difficult for us to conceive of an island media scene without Laisa, a quiet, determined reporter whose voice carried the force of island journalism with her."

Gabi noted that Taga had her critics.

"Her shortcomings were ours."

PFF co-chair Monica Miller said that Taga would be remembered among colleagues for a sense of humour that carried many through a deadline crisis.

"Laisa loved journalism, and she loved journalists."

Her attendance at media meetings was unassuming, said Miller.

"She rarely accepted being at the top table, and nearly always sat on the sidelines, and, at conferences, graced many of us with a smile, shared laughs, a knowing look, and telling insider tales."

In her homeland Fiji, Taga dealt with the labyrinth complications of reporting from the centre of regional politics covering 26 islands countries, states and territories, said Miller.

"She was the gentle giant of Pacific journalism, and it is difficult to talk about a legacy when her presence is such an unspoken quality, and quantity."

But her status as a trailblazer is unquestionable, said Miller.

"Not just as a woman journalist, but also as a voice for island commentary."
Taga, who hailed from Bua province in northern Fiji, joined IBI in 1998 after rising through the ranks of the Fiji Ministry of Information to become the principal information officer.

She joined the ministry after returning from studies in Australia following the 1987 coup. She is fondly remembered by many of her ex-information ministry colleagues as someone who believed so
passionately in government directly engaging with the members of the media.

As such she managed to get the Ministry of Information to become a member of the Pacific Islands News Association and the (now defunct) Fiji Islands Media Association, with her staff members enjoying the
opportunities that emerged from attending joint-media training sessions with the mainstream.

She was also instrumental in helping establish one of the Pacific Islands' largest government info-communication machinery and pioneered 
the establishment of the first national TV news through the then Fiji National Video Centre.

Her staunch belief in the necessity of the government communicating openly with citizens led her to being reassigned away from the television service that she had helped established after she aired a report in the early 1990s critical of the newly elected government's performance. She eventually left and joined the Fiji Daily Post,
becoming the country's first woman to edit a daily national newspaper.

The Pacific Freedom Forum embraces reportage, during her illness, from 
the Fiji Sun, of Taga as a "former school athletics record breaker [who] went on to become one of the real pioneers of women in the media
in Fiji."
"This strong, no-nonsense lady from Bua opened doors for the many women in the media today."
Laisa Taga passed away at her home in Suva this week surrounded by family after a battle with cancer. But she insisted on working until she no longer could just a few short months before her death.

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PACIFIC FREEDOM FORUM

PFF CHAIR | Titi Gabi PNGEdge.com | Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea | PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, PNG | Mob: +675 7314 3929 | titi.gabipng@gmail.com

PFF CO-CHAIR | Monica Miller KHJ Radio | Pago Pago, America Samoa | Mob: +684 258 4197 | Office: +684 633 7793 |monica@southseasbroadcasting.com 
The Pacific Freedom Forum is a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.