31 January 2000

A dozen news men and women from East Timor will take part in a post-conflict journalism workshop in Brisbane this week in a project to encourage the growth of independent media in the emerging nation.

The project is a joint venture between the Centre for International Journalism (CIJ) of the University of Queensland and Reuters Foundation, the educational arm of Reuters global news and information group.

"Journalists can play a crucial role in building up a well balanced society and robust economy after the trauma of conflict, but they must be trained in the highest professional standards," Reuters Foundation Director Stephen Somerville said in a news release.

The workshop will be led by Colin McIntyre, a senior Reuters correspondent and editor who reported on the Indonesian takeover of East Timor in 1975, and John Wallace, Director of the CIJ.

Wallace said the East Timorese print media were still handicapped by a lack of working presses, but the training in Brisbane would help prepare their journalists to cover the huge changes underway in the country and to promote debate on political and economic options.

"The months ahead are a massive challenge for East Timor and its media. Journalists in other countries with developed press systems and free press traditions have an obligation to help colleagues who don't have these luxuries," he said.

Most of the workshop participants are former staff of the daily Suara Timor Timur (Voice of East Timor), whose premises were destroyed by the militia, and the underground news magazine, Talitakum, which published monthly up until the independence vote.

They include Otelio Ote, a veteran reporter with Suara Timor Timur who is coordinator of the recently-formed Timor Lorosae Journalists Association (TLJA), and Virgilio Guterres, co-founder of the Talitakum and now coordinator of ISPELA, a recently formed media research and discussion group.



The workshop will run from Tuesday 1 February to Saturday 5 February. The journalists are due to arrive in Brisbane on Monday 31 January.

A reception for the group will be held at 6.30pm Monday 31 February at St Leo's College, University of Queensland, where they will be staying. The press are invited.

Other members of the training group are: Mr Jose Ximenes, Mr Lourenco Martins, Mr Joao Barreto, Ms Santina da Costa, Ms Susana Cardoso, Mr Hugo Fernandes, Mr Fulgencio Aquino Vieira, Mr Nuno Rodriques, Mr Metodio Caetano Monis and Mr Abel da Silva Pires.

Interpreter assistance will be provided by Ms Sharon Tickle, a journalism lecturer at QUT, and Nyoman Darmaputra, a PhD student with the Department of Asian Languages and Studies.

The Centre for International Journalism is being assisted financially with this project by the Myer Foundation.

Reuters Foundation runs training and university study programmes for journalists, particularly from developing countries. It administers the Reuters Group's corporate support programmes of educational and humanitarian work around the world.

PRESS CONTACTS in Australia:

Ms Shelley Woods
Research Assistant
Centre for International Journalism
Department of Journalism
University of Queensland
tel. 0417 072 485

Associate Professor John Wallace
Director, Centre for International Journalism
tel. 0409 134 180