New Dawn embraces mobile technology to increase reach
New Dawn FM, Bougainville’s leading independent media outlet, has turned to modern mobile phone apps and social media to get news to and from some of the most remote parts of the region.
Station manager, Aloysius Laukai, now has 15 staff members working under him as the team seek to build awareness on the biggest issues affecting Bougainville.
Laukai and his reporters use WhatsApp and Viber, cross-platform mobile apps, to exchange information and file stories.
The apps allow reporters to send text, video, images and audio messages using their mobile data allowance.
“Before WhatsApp the audio was not quality,” Mr Laukai said.
“Normally we used telephone lines, which sometimes are very noisy.”
For radio interviews and sound grabs reporters use digital voice recorders and send the audio to the New Dawn FM studio in Buka, where they are edited and aired.
“Sending audio by email the files are too big,” Laukai continued.
“It would be impossible, but now we are using Viber to make calls using data.”
With Digicel coverage reaching an estimated 80-90% of the population New Dawn is able to rapidly disseminate news from throughout the region.
Laukai was also an earlier adopter of social media to increase the reach of New Dawn and awareness of news from Bougainville.
The New Dawn on Bougainville blog was launched in February 2009, not long after the station began broadcasting. The blog provides written versions of New Dawn’s top stories for the day and photographs.
In 2011 Aloysius joined Twitter and set up a Facebook page to reiterate this content across the spectrum of social media platforms.
In 2014 Aloysius also created Bougainville News
Due to infrastructural constraints the station’s FM broadcast coverage is currently limited to Buka and the northern tip of the mainland of Bougainville and so social media allows people with access to the cellular network to get regional news.
An upgrade to radio infrastructure, jointly funded by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Bougainville Copper Foundation, is expected to be completed soon and will deliver FM signal throughout the region.
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