Postgraduate student journalist Daniel Drageset has won a coveted international prize in trauma journalism - the 2013 Dart trauma journalism award.
Drageset won the award for his multimedia news report series about the torture of a fugitive prisoner and his suspected accomplice by Fiji prison officers
Drageset, a Norwegian journalist, interned at the AUT University's Pacific Media Centre (PMC) and has been a contributing editor of the PMC’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project for the past year. He has also been a student intern editor on the associated independent Pacific Scoop news website.
"I am really happy to have won this prize. It was incredibly interesting working on this story, and I think it highlights what an important job Pacific Media Watch is doing,” Drageset said.
Judge Cait McMahon, Director of Melbourne's Dart Asia-Pacific Centre, said Drageset’s winning Fiji entry had showed an “impressive investigation into alleged police torture”.
“Daniel had to straddle important ethical issues and clarify potential bias of sources to produce an impressive piece of reporting,” she said.
“This work carefully investigated YouTube clips, blogs and other sources to construct a series of balanced, online news stories that were eventually picked up by mainstream international media.
“While the videos were disturbing to watch, Daniel produced a strong series of news stories that align with the principles of giving voice to victims and survivors of violence and injustice.”
Drageset developed the story from graphic YouTube footage of the torture of 27-year-old escaped prisoner Iowane Benedito by apparent prison and other security officers, captured on mobile phones .
Another man suspected of helping the fugitive was also tortured with the help of a dog.
The Fiji regime later admitted to 'corrections officers' being implicated in the torture, but rejected calls for an independent inquiry. However, a Fiji Prisons and Corrections Service spokeswoman confirmed that three officers had been sacked over the video.
Drageset worked closely with Professor David Robie, director of the PMC and managing editor of the PMW project, on the stories.
This is the third year running that PMC-affiliated students have won all prizes and citations going to NZ-based nominations. Drageset's prize was A$200.
2013 Journalism Education Association conference
On November 28, Drageset made a presentation about the PMW project and the Pacific Scoop internship at the Journalism Education Association of New Zealand (JEANZ) conference hosted this year by AUT.
As well as the Fiji torture issue, Drageset spoke about case studies such as the West Papua Freedom Flotilla, the Samoa Observer editor being verbally attacked by the Prime Minister of Samoa, political prisoners in West Papua, and Danish MP Marie Krarup’s racist comments about Māori.
He based his talk on Professor Robie’s recent paper Pacific Media Watch and digital protest in Oceania: A case study of a campus-based free media collective, presented at the Protest and the Media conference at the University of Westminster in London in June 2013.