Feature

World News Day: Fiji Sun Presents Ronald Kumar

Mr Kumar has earned the respect of the many not only in mainstream media but business people, sports stars and ordinary Fijians.
11 Sep 2020 14:00
World News Day: Fiji Sun Presents Ronald Kumar
Fiji Sun chief photojournalist Ronald Kumar.

In the lead up to World News Day on September 28, we will be featuring some of the key people in the Fiji Sun.

At the Fiji Sun, when you think of anything to do with photography, the person that comes automatically to mind is RONALD KUMAR.

He is our chief photojournalist.

Mr Kumar has earned the respect of the many not only in mainstream media but business people, sports stars and ordinary Fijians.

Be it a formal shooting at State House, taking a daring photo from a helicopter, the face of a grieving mother describing her sorrow of losing her only child or big sporting events that involves a lot of movement. You name it! Mr Kumar has captured it all – from murders to coups, funerals, natural disasters and celebrations. All from behind his camera lenses.

He is our award-winning photojournalist scooping the then 2003 and 2004 Human Rights Award for demonstrating human rights through pictures. The photograph was titled Shadow by my side.

In 2003, Mr Kumar won the Australian Photography Contest.

In 2004 and 2005, he won the then Fiji Awards for Media Excellence (FAME). Cry for Justice a picture of a girl crying for justice at the funeral of her father, who was killed in 2007. This picture won Mr Kumar the FAME award in 2005 and was also nominated in the PANPA award in 2008.

Mr Kumar of Navua is inspired by the daily challenges he faces when out in the field. He is also grateful for the support from home. His wife Shirley and two children, Rajiv and Alisha continue to be a pillar of strength. With the demanding work load and long working hours, he said the understanding from home is always welcoming.

When did you start working in a newsroom?

I started work in the Fiji Sun newsroom on October 8, 1999.

Why do you do what you do?

I believe in the proverb ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ – meaning a picture can tell a story just as well as many words.

Turning my hobby into career, wasn’t something I thought of, but the opportunity of being a part of a daily newspaper, the Fiji Sun wasn’t an offer I was going to let go.

Photojournalism for me evolved a lot since the time I started, and being part of the mainstream media helped me grow a lot.

My profession has taken me places that I never dream of visiting, both locally and overseas.

Meeting people, talking and understanding them as the subject of my picture and portraying it the best way possible can be satisfying. I love my work because the photographs I take tells a story in itself to our readers.

Over the years of news coverage and the experiences that come along with it can be quite daunting yet exciting.

There were times, when I reflected about my career choice.

For example, after covering the thrills and danger of the civilian coup in 2000, I put those thoughts to rest forever. This was an event that will be etched forever in my mind.

Covering the May 19, 2000, march in town, which ended up in the burning and looting of the capital city was like covering a ‘war zone’.

I was later locked up in the old Parliament House for hours by gun-wielding rebels, walking around threatening me.

Today, I look back at those life-threatening experiences and laugh it off. Twenty one years on and I still do love my job just like I loved it when I first joined the Fiji Sun.

How do you put up with deadline pressures at work and from outside?

Working on a deadline has its own thrills but it a learning adventure. And with the print media, keeping to our deadline is very important.

Back in the days when we worked with manual cameras and 135mm roll films, developing black and white and making it on time before deadlines was hard.

But those times are gone with the new technology today, meeting deadlines is much easier.

With the use of digital camera, lap-tops, wifi or hotspot, you can almost send your photographs from anywhere. Performing better under pressure only polishes my skills, as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

In your journalism career, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how were these addressed?

Apart from the normal logistics issue and at times a shortage of required photography equipment, the two decades of experience has helped me get around these challenges.

Apart from this, covering controversial cases or events sometimes did not welcome our cameras. But getting the scoop or exclusive photographs of these events makes me a winner at the end of the day.

Highlight at least two pieces of work that you did that brought about change in policy, community/ or in behaviour:

To summarise it down to two would be hard because over the years, I have taken hundreds of human interest pictures of people, events, etc, where people or groups have received the much needed help and attention.

Our readers are captivated by what they see in the newspaper, the stories and the photographs.

However, the most recent and notable one was publication of the photograph of jailed former Fijian 7s player, Amenoni Nasilasila, who was training with the Namosi rugby side. This was published on July 7, 2020, in Fiji Sun.

This photograph caught a lot of attention and outrage both locally and internationally because Nasilasila was jailed for rape and many questioned the logic behind his participation while being a serving prisoner.

Following this, after the World Rugby said it did not condone any person convicted of a serious crime and currently serving their sentence undertaking any official rugby activities under union jurisdiction, Nasilasila was stopped from playing.

  • World News Day aims to raise public awareness of the critical role that journalists play in providing credible and reliable news, to help people make sense of — and improve — the rapidly changing world around them.
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