HONOLULU (KHON2) — Several hundred journalists from across the globe were in Honolulu for the 2022 East West Center International Media Conference June 27 to 30 at the Hawaii Convention Center.

The purpose of the East West Center International Media conference is for journalists from the U.S., Asia and the Pacific to network, develop professionally, and talk about issues in the industry. The East West Center is located at 1601 East West Road next to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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This year’s theme is Connecting in a Zero-Trust World, and it is open to the public.

Here is a snippet of what the 450 journalists from 35 countries who attended in-person and online learned about.

The keynote speaker for the opening day of the conference on Tuesday, June 28 was Nobel Peace Laureate and press freedom champion Maria Ressa from the Philippines.

In her speech she broke the news that her online news organization Rappler was hit with a shutdown order from the Philippines Security and Exchange Commission. 

“We must adapt, adjust, survive and thrive,” Ressa said. 

Ressa is the CEO and co-founder of Rappler, an online news organization. She was arrested for her reporting on corruption going on with in the administration under current Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. She was convicted of cyber libel, along with a former co-founder of Rappler, in Manila. She is out on bail pending her appeal.

Ressa was awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Dmitry Muratov “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

Ressa’s American ties include moving from the where she was born and raised in the Philippines to the United States in 1973 with her family when she was 10 years old. She attended Tom’s River High School North in New Jersey. The high school named the auditorium in her honor in May. She graduated from Princeton in 1986. She worked with CNN in Manila and in Jakarta.

There’s $3.5 million of federal money dedicated to protect journalists when they are under attack. Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs for the U.S. State Department Elizabeth Allen reiterated that during her speech on the third day of the conference Thursday, June 30. The funds were previously announced by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinking to protect journalists when they are under attack with physical and digital security training in the Journalism Protection Platform.

“The government has the responsibility to tell the truth,” Allen said. 

Allen said the US state department including Blinkin have had discussions about how to protect journalist which included Ressa.

With your years of experience, what would you tell your younger self as a journalist starting out. What advice do you have for younger journalists.

“Keep an open mind,” said Nirmal Ghosh, US Bureau Chief of The Straits Times which is based in Washington DC. “Read a lot of books. Go to the country. Enjoy the learning experience.”

The conference gave the opportunity for people to meet the EWC president Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum who started her post in January replacing President Richard Vuylsteke when his five-year term was over. She is the first native Hawaiian, and Hawaii resident to be selected for the job. A retired Army Major General, she got her bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She also got her master’s in education in English from UHM. Her father is from Maui and her mother is from Tokyo. 

The conference, which is usually held in an Asian country, is every two years.
The 2018 conference was held in Singapore.
The 2016 conference was held in New Delhi, India.
The 2014 conference was held in Yangon, Myanmar.
The 2012 conference was held in Seoul.
The 2010 conference was held in Hong Kong,
The 2008 conference was held in Bangkok.

The EWC said amid the coronavirus pandemic recovery this year, this is the first time ever the conference has been held in its home base of Honolulu.

EWC initiatives include the Hawaii International Film Festival and the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Check out what’s going on around the nation on our National News page

For more information about the conference visit the East West Center website.