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One KUAM: Building bridges for live news in the Pacific

With a population of 50,000 spread across an archipelago of tiny islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in the Pacific has often been too remote for other Guam based broadcast news crews to carry live coverage.

Previously, my organization’s coverage of significant events in the CNMI was handled in one of two ways: we could wait for a tape-delayed file from the island chain’s only local news operation, which was a lengthy process that taxed our workflow and internet bandwidth capabilities. Or we could send a two-person crew to gather the story, which they would edit and publish upon return to Guam, which was costly with airfare, transportation and lodging costing approximately $2,000 per trip.

But that has all changed thanks to the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge funding the One KUAM project, which has enhanced and expanded the quality content our media group produces for and about our Pacific region.

Now, our regional correspondent operates efficiently as a “one-person band” and can send live HD quality video via their mobile device. We’re able to report live from multiple locations on broadcast and streaming, and we’ve even been able to feature live reports in HD from Tinian and Rota, the smaller islands of the archipelago, with a combined population of 5,000. We’re the first broadcast news station on Guam to do this.

These improvements have helped us achieve our goal of expanding our regional coverage and sharing the stories of Indigenous Pacific Islanders with more people. Our expanded coverage has brought more information to the homes of our viewers in the CNMI and also helped show how current issues – from climate change and COVID-19, to military training and cultural revitalization – impact the region as a whole.


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