World News Day: Fiji Sun Presents Karalaini Naciqa-Waqanidrola

Karalaini Naciqa-Waqanidrola always wanted to become a teacher. But when she left school in 1982 there was a job opportunity to work as a clerk with the Southern Development Company.
22 Sep 2020 11:34
World News Day: Fiji Sun Presents Karalaini Naciqa-Waqanidrola

Karalaini Naciqa-Waqanidrola always wanted to become a teacher.

But when she left school in 1982 there was a job opportunity to work as a clerk with the Southern Development Company.

It was a tobacco company at Nalebaleba in the Sigatoka Valley near her village Bemana in Nadroga.

The job included accommodation and she took it up.

But her late mother, who is from Naivicula, Tailevu, was not going to have it.

She insisted that young Karalaini enrolled the following year at the then Fiji Institute of Technology to do her diploma.

Growing up in Suva, the former Cathedral Secondary School (now Sacred Heart College) student was a sprint champion during her school days who always had a book in her backpack.

She was a member of the Suva City Library.

It was ritual to be taking two books home every week to read. When changing her library books she always spent time reading newspapers.

She was a gifted sportswoman who could be playing in three sports on a Saturday – hockey in the morning, netball at midday and either basketball or volleyball in the afternoon.

And she was also a very curious person and always full of questions that her late mother used to comment she was worse than a lawyer.

She was also tenacious in the sense that all challenges can be tackled.

When she applied for the vacancy of a proofreader (Fiji Times) in 1984 she knew it was her opportunity to be part of the newspaper business.

She was halfway doing part-time Diploma in Journalism at the University of the South Pacific in 1987 when the programme was quashed because of the Rabuka coup.

Her late mother’s prayers were answered when she was awarded a three-year scholarship with then Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB).

There she successfully completed her degree in Professional Communication at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1993.

All these years she has been able to retain her good network of friends through loyalty, trustworthiness, compassion and honesty.

She returned to the newsroom but left to work in a corporate company before joining Government in 2007 as a Communication Specialist.

Over the years, she has attended workshops covering journalism ethics, report writing, OHS, Quality Management and Service Excellence. She has passed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Diplomatic certificate course usually sat by directors and above.

She is now Publications editor.

She is married to Veremo Taukeinikoro Waqanidrola, a small business owner from Vunibau, Serua and they have five children (two sons and three daughters) and a grand-daughter.

Fiji Sun Publications editor Karalaini Waqanidrola.

Fiji Sun Publications editor Karalaini Waqanidrola.

When you started working in a newsroom:

My first newsroom was the Fiji Times in Suva way back in 1984. After working for the Southern Development Company as a clerical officer soon after passing then Form 6 New Zealand University Entrance, my mother insisted I attend the then Fiji Institute of Technology to upgrade my qualification.

It was during the first semester break when the Fiji Times advertised the position for proofreaders. I applied and was called in for the interview. Three of us were shortlisted.

We took a short English test which included dictation, sentence formation and spelling test. The next day I received an offer letter to be a reporter.

I was with the Fiji Times as a sport reporter when the first military coup in 1987 was staged. I was on the sports desk with the late Eroni Volavola who had taken a few days off earlier only to show up at the newsroom in full military uniform to say it was a coup; escorting us out with only our bags as we followed our then editor Vijendra Kumar onto Gordon Street.

Chief of staff then were Richard Naidu, Mesake Koroi then Umendra Singh assisted by Asha Lakhan. There was a media blackout for some weeks.

The then Fiji Sun closed for good and a handful of journalists including Samisoni Kakaivalu, Jale Moala, Mika Turaga and Torika Tora formed the Daily Post.

I joined them in 1989 at Three Miles, Nabua then the company relocated at Valelevu in Nasinu. Nemani Delaibatiki was editor-in-chief and Kameli Rakoko was sports editor.

I left in 1993 for a three-year scholarship with then Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB) for my Bachelor in Arts (Professional Communication) in Melbourne.

I returned to the Fiji Times subs desk only to rejoin Daily Post as Sports Editor and then chief-of-staff in 1998. My mum passed away early 2001 and with five children there was a lot adjustment to be made. I returned after two months to the newly set-up Fiji Sun at Walu Bay the same year until 2004.

Why do you do what you do?

I had left the newsroom in 2004 to join a corporate company. My journalism skills, adaptability and network assisted me in the new environment.

I then crossed over to work for Government in 2007 where with my knowledge and skills assisted me as Communications Specialist with the Technical and Support Secretariat (TASS) of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF). This was the unit I was in to inform, educate and enlighten Fijians on the changes our nation needed to make through the Peoples Charter for Change Peace and Progress and Strategic Framework for Change.

Following the disbandment of TASS I joined the Office of the Prime Minister as senior information officer. In 2017 I am back in the newsroom initially as a sub-editor and from last year as Publications editor.

I am in charge of all editorial materials for supplements and weekly features such as Shipping, Motoring and Properties.

I am an old hand when it comes to journalism having worked in all areas from news to sports, from shipping to feature/investigative writing. From reporting, sub-editing, laying out, proof reading and signing off pages.

I have returned to help in whatever way I can.

Sharing my knowledge and experience and also aspire journalists to develop and grow into better journalists and importantly deliver credible editions.

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

These put you on your feet all the time, makes you move with time and the end reward is putting out a new product every day. I believe no other profession can put out one new production (edition) every day, only a daily newspaper company can do that and it is on record which generations to come can always read as part of history. Good planning and time management are the key words here.

That (daily) product provides people with verified information they can use to make better decisions and practices. More so, the product is not just the facts, but also the “truth about the facts.”

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

I have encountered many, in this field you learn a new thing every day. I will mention just two.

Interviewing aggressive people. I remember doing a ‘Sex for Sale’ series which ran for five days while I was with Daily Post.

I was five months pregnant with my eldest son; while interviewing one of the ladies on the street became aggressive that she wanted to break an empty beer bottle to attack me. She claimed I was trying to lure her man who was with her that time. I was able to calm her down by saying that I did not need her man as I was with one who was the company driver who was old enough to be my father.

Covering rugby matches up at Naluwai and the aggressive Naitasiri spectators telling you to get away from the sidelines while trying to take pictures because you are not an official.

I wait for half time then walk to them and introduce myself and tell them that I am a journalist and also taking photos for the next day’s paper; amazingly they understood. I met one of them selling dalo at the Suva market last week and we reminisced that day to my youngest daughter’s amusement.

Journalism is a unique profession, you make lifetime friends, with your ability to write you empower them to be better people, you analyse and assist them improve and benchmark, and you assist them graduate to a better level and person.

I have never gone to a place a stranger, as there is bound to be someone you have shared their stories, given them a voice and hope, assisted them to adapt to change; have also inspired others to move away and spread their wings.

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

  • 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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