Meet our 2017 Travel Bursars

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Koro Vaka’uta from RNZ, one of our 2017 Travel Bursars.

We are pleased to announce the names and projects of the seven professionals who have received this year’s Public Media Alliance travel bursaries

Our programme enables staff from broadcast networks and partner NGOs to go on exchange, attend an event or training in another country for up to two weeks – sharing knowledge between national broadcasters across the world and bringing back experience and fresh ideas to their organisation.

This year’s intake includes bursars with a wide range of backgrounds from across our membership, including producers, reporters, researchers and managers.

Our thanks to the Grace Wyndham Goldie Trust fund for supporting our 2017 bursaries.

Our 2017 bursars are: 

Ms. Nerissa Pearson, Producer National Communications Network (NCN) Guyana
Travelling to the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation
Nerissa Pearson

Nerissa Pearson, Producer National Communications Network (NCN) Guyana

Nerissa believes that education is key to fostering growth and development in her home country. As such, her project will highlight the strides Guyana has made in achieving Sustainable Development Goal number four: to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. It will also highlight the steps that can also be taken to advance this need in Guyana by exploring initiatives elsewhere in the Caribbean region.

Barbados is her country of choice to travel to as it shares close ties with Guyana through trade as well as the Guyanese expatriate community. The Island is noted for its advancement in the field of education and for its excellence in radio broadcasting.

Nerissa will use the travel bursary to facilitate expanding her learning through the form of an internship with the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. Visits will also be made to heads of institutions as well as Government officials to find out how they have been tackling this SDG. Nerissa intends to get a first-hand view of how the curriculum is integrated to meet the needs of a wide cross section of people. She will also will visit the public broadcaster in Barbados to improve her techniques in producing effective radio programmes around education.

NCN will be launching a new in-house newsletter and Nerissa intends to write several articles for the newsletter about the bursary, the project undertaken, and her travel and experiences.

Nerissa’s Reaction

I’m so excited and happy to be chosen in such a high honour, I have been eagerly awaiting a response and I can’t wait to begin my project. This is going to truly bring education, Guyana’s educational preparedness and the region’s outlook into focus. 

It is my hope to bring our Guyanese culture, situation and country to light while showing the growing partnerships and movements being made in the developing Caribbean region.

I will be doing a two-week internship with the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) while visiting Barbados as well as conducting interviews and research on my Sustainable Development Goal project focused on Education, highlighting the strides Guyana has made in achieving Sustainable Development Goal number four.


Mr. Vashan Brown, Reporter/Producer, RJR/Gleaner Group Jamaica
Travelling to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Vashan Brown

Vashan Brown, Reporter/Producer, RJR/Gleaner Group Jamaica

Vashan has worked for Television Jamaica (TVJ), part of RJR, for over 5 years. He is looking to see how RJR can improve the way they produce programmes. He has mentioned that there are no written guidelines on production at RJR, especially on how best to structure and the process of creating content.

He would like to compile a production manual for RJR so that there is a written guideline for future producers. Vashan also believes that there is a greater need for local content but as much of this has to be made in the local dialect it can take much longer to produce.

Vashan understands that human interest stories and local content are very important, yet RJR producers need guidance on how to do this more effectively and regularly, on a daily basis.

Vashan believes that by visiting Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) he will be able to acquire valuable work experience and knowledge, as it produces local content on a continuous basis. He feels his observation of CBC production processes will be crucial in compiling a manual suitable for RJR. He hopes that on his return he will make this manual available to the newsroom and producers in order to improve their work.

While visiting CBC he would also meet with staff and key stakeholders so that RJR will have a potential pool of international guests for their future programmes.

Vashan’s Reaction

I am overjoyed to be selected as one of the 2017 Public Media Alliance travel bursars. This award will give me the opportunity to continue to develop and improve the production process at TVJ.

I am a Reporter/ Producer/News Anchor with Television Jamaica (TVJ), which is a member of the RJR Gleaner Communications Group in Kingston, Jamaica. I currently produce the leading News and Current Affairs programme on the island – All Angles on TVJ.

 My project is to compile a Production Manual for TVJ by observing what is done at CBC in Toronto, Canada.

 Based on my experience working in the Jamaican Media, I have been struck by the fact that many newsroom processes are “understood” rather than documented. This is why the production manual is critical because it will allow us to improve the products we provide to members of the public and will be replicable.

 At Television Jamaica, we rarely have any written documentation or structure for programmes produced by the News Centre. That is one of things that I want to change. I think a Production Manual would help to us do our jobs better. I want to create a Production Manual for the programme, so that there is a written guide for future producers.

 I also chose CBC because I want the Production Manual to include ways we can do more Human Interest Features as well as regular Documentaries.


Ms. Thandeka Mmekoa, News Researcher SABC, South Africa
Travel to the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation
Thandeka Mmekoa

Thandeka Mmekoa, News Researcher SABC, South Africa

Thandeka would like to observe and study how MBC’s educational programming can be adopted by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in order to resuscitate its children’s news programme.

MBC launched a kid’s channel in 2004 and over the years it has proved to be the No.1 Arabic Kids Channel. SABC’s Kids news is struggling to stay relevant in educating, informing and entertaining South African children. This poses a danger of missing an opportunity to lay a strong foundation for children’s education in South Africa, as she believes public media is important in shaping socieity’s thinking and behaviour.

Thandeka seeks to explore MBC’s polices on kids channel, its mandate, the programmes featured and the news. Where possible she would also like to go into the field with educational journalists to see how they cover positive, negative and violent stories. She believes this is an important component as getting the reporting style right is not only a concern for audience ratings but also their wellbeing.

SABC is an organisation that constantly aims to improve its output. This travel bursary will assist Thandeka in dicovering how other public broadcasters work, how their working models and strategies work (especially regarding MBC Kids’) and how MBC have manged to keep the children’s channel sustainable and relevant.

Thandeka’s Reaction

I am overwhelmed by feelings of excitement; this is truly a dream come true – I had to print the letter to convince myself that I am not dreaming.

Receiving such ecstatic news just after my birthday was a true blessing. I am looking forward to visiting the Moka Village in Mauritius where the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation is based.

 My main interest is the MBC’s kids’ channel as I seek to understand basically the work that goes into airing of the channel: the inception, the mission and vision as well as programs that make up the channel. My particular interest is in the news catered for kids, as this is a segment that the SABC has currently.

 I cannot wait to come back and impart the knowledge and skills that I would have acquired through this bursary, which I’m hoping will revive SABC’s Kids output in order to ensure the provision of timely and educational news to this very important audience.

 This travel bursary will also assist the SABC in knowing how public broadcasters elsewhere are conducting their business. Exploring what the working models and strategies are, implementing what works and dropping what does not work.

 My special thanks go to Public Media Alliance for this opportunity of a lifetime. This is a significant development for African countries, one organisation at a time. 


Mr. Imam Hossain, Executive Producer, Bangladesh Television (BTV)
Travelling to Radio Television Malaysia
Iman Hossain

Imam Hossain, Executive Producer Bangladesh Television (BTV)

Imam works for the Public Service Broadcaster of Bangladesh, BTV. BTV are in the early stages of digtalisation, but their editing equipment and software is out dated and not of HD quality. Even though BTV will eventually call upon an international tender to transform to HD, they still lack the experience and expertise in this area.

Imam is an Executive Producer at BTV and he would like to visit Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) to observe how they have embraced digital technology.  During this visit he will interact with RTM colleagues while seeking advise on how they run their six channels with limited manpower (BTV will also be setting up five regional TV stations).

He will meet with editors to discuss software arrangements and any advice they can offer in terms of programming. Imam feels this would be valuable knowledge and experience to share with his management and colleagues at BTV for when they make their decisions on equipment and how they will proceed with their own digital transition.

Imam also acknowledges his own limited knowledge in this field. He hopes that visiting RTM and working with colleagues will give him personal hands-on experience, which he can then share with his colleagues at BTV. Imam understands RTM is a huge organisation and much better funded than BTV but he believes that their similarities and shared strengths in broadcasting to different ethnic groups in multiple languages is important, making them the right partner for an exchange.

Imam’s Reaction

It is one step towards advancement in the path of BTV’s digitalisation to be selected for the PMA Travel Bursary Award 2017.

 I feel ecstasy in receiving your letter of selection. As a team member of BTV’s digitalisation, I am very pleased to advance my project with the help of PMA.

 Now my desire and firm determination is to complete my project, using my visit to RTM to acquire experience, knowledge and skill and apply those to building BTV as an HD channel.

 I will visit RTM and observe their HD production through EFP Units and HD transmission, including studio based production. Some of my RTM producers are well-known and they will hopefully help me in this regard as I talked before with them.

 As BTV is recently going to switch-over HD production, my visit to RTM Malaysia will enrich my knowledge and in-hand experience that can surely be utilised in the process of BTV’s digitalisation.


Mr. Raymond Clarisse, Content Development Manager, Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC)
Travel to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Raymond Clarisse

Raymond Clarisse, Content Development Manager, Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC)

Raymond will travel to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to meet, talk and observe how CBC staff, with similar roles to him , go about their work.

He would like to gain experience within CBC’s independent drama pitch unit and exchange ideas about how they develop drama and deal with independent producers. He hopes he will gain valuable insight from this experience. He hopes this trip will help him set up a drama department at SBC.

The greatest benefit for Raymond would be that he would be developing new skills, which will help him create new content for his organisation in the Seychelles. The exchange will also help him to develop solid networks with experienced partners, such as CBC.

This tour will help him to broaden his experience in content development with an emphasis on drama. He hopes with this valuable opportunity the experience he gains will assist in bringing SBC content polices to a world class standard.

Raymond’s Reaction

I am very pleased to learn that I have been selected for a Public Media Alliance Travel Bursary. I think this will be a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with another PMA member.

 I wish to first and foremost thank ‘The Public Media Alliance’ for their continued support and all the opportunities they create. As for me, I am a television broadcaster from a small island state. We are right now at the forefront of the digital migration and these opportunities can contribute immensely in giving us an insight as to what other broadcasters are doing.

As a filmmaker, I am also very invested in developing television dramas and talent development; for I believe that it is an essential method to mirror our society and have a relevant conversation with our audiences. In 2005 I was a finalist for the Commonwealth Vision Awards in achieving our millennium development goals; I firmly believe that filmmaking can play a part in spreading those visions.

The core objective of my travel is to collaborate with a well-established drama hub within the Public media Alliance community with the aim of achieving the same for my broadcaster and other island state broadcasters in the region. So, I look forward to this travel and hope it brings much experience and excitement.


Mr. Mark Bassant, Senior Multi Media Investigative Journalist/Producer, Caribbean Communications Network, Trinidad
Travelling to Panama & Barbados
Mark Bassant

Mark Bassant, Senior Multi Media Investigative Journalist/Producer, Caribbean Communications Network, Trinidad

Mark will be visiting Panama and Barbados to see how the UN Drug & Crime Office’s unit – the CCP – Container Control Programme functions and will accompany the officers as they perform their duties in real time.

He will use this bursary to produce a documentary which will examine how the office effectively detects ways of how contraband enters the countries and how they can stay one step ahead of the drug traffickers and smugglers.

As an investigative journalist, he will be able to produce a documentary which will not only educate the public but also the Trinidadian Government – one of the few regions in the Caribbean which has not signed up to the CCP programme. He would also like the documentary to be made available to other PMA Caribbean members to transmit.

Mark’s Reaction

Let me say that I am ecstatic on hearing that I was the lucky recipient of one of these bursaries in a time when investigative journalism is financially constrained. I will make the best possible use of the bursary as I embark on an investigative documentary with the hope of making a difference to my country and the region.


Mr. Koro Vaka’uta, Journalist, Radio New Zealand (International)
Travelling to Tonga & the Tongan Broadcasting Commission
Koro Vaka’uta

Koro Vaka’uta, Journalist, Radio New Zealand (International)

Koro will be investigating the increasingly tense relationship between the first “commoner” elected as Prime Minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, and the public broadcaster, the Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC).

The Prime Minister has threatened to close TBC following what he sees as negative reporting. Mr Pohiva is renowned for helping usher in democratic reform in Tonga as part of the pro-democracy movement but his popularity appears to have waned and he has courted numerous controversies since coming into power in 2014. This has led to a parliamentary no-confidence motion, accusing him of nepotism, not following due processes, wasting public funds and damaging international relations, among other alleged offences. Pohiva eventually defeated the motion despite his Finance Minister abstaining. The minister has since been sacked, leading to a cabinet reshuffle which led to his son-in-law becoming Police Minister.

Koro aims to interview Mr Pohiva, members of his Cabinet and members of what is effectively the Parliamentary Opposition to gauge their thoughts on the fortunes of the highly anticipated Pohiva government.

He would  also seek to interview members of the local community to gain their feedback and interview senior staff/reporters of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission to ascertain whether they thought they were able to report freely on the situation in Tonga.

Koro’s Reaction

 Thank you for awarding me this Public Media Alliance Travel Bursary, which will allow me to travel to Tonga to report on the current media situation.

I am hoping, with the assistance of the bursary including financing from the Grace Wyndham Goldie fund, to be able to shed light on the increasingly tense relationship between the media and the government there. The work would highlight the Sustainable Development Goal of Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Specifically the area of ensuring public access to information and the  protection of fundamental freedoms.  


Bursars will be travelling until July this year, when we will publish their reports and stories from their  projects.

The Public Media Alliance is grateful to the Grace Wyndham Goldie Trust for their continued support for these bursaries.