2009 Asia Fellows Announced

Dart Centre Australasia has announced the 13 recipients of the inaugural Dart Asia Fellowships for editors and senior news gatherers throughout Southeast Asia.

Dart Centre Australasia today announced the recipients of the inaugural Dart Asia Fellowship programme.

The Asia Fellowship programme is the first of its kind, bringing together both editors and senior news gatherers — photographers, video journalists, broadcasters and journalists from across Southeast Asia — to focus on the reporting of tragedy and violence in society.  All of the recipients have reported on civil conflict in and near their home countries, and most have reported on natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and typhoons. The programme, funded by Dart Centre Australasia, a regional programme of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, will teach the fellows about issues of self care, duty of care and the craft of trauma reporting, focusing on the importance of psychological safety and its relationship to physical safety in high risk environments.

“Becoming aware of the impact of psychological trauma will assist media professionals to develop skills to deal with their own trauma response.  At the same time it will equip them with new language and knowledge in understanding the trauma experienced by the subjects of their stories.  Learning interview techniques to deal with traumatised persons is very different to interview techniques used with politicians.  It is a delicate skill that will result in better stories being told, whilst doing less harm to the survivor of the event,” says Cait McMahon, Managing Director of the Dart Centre Australasia.

The 2009 Dart Asia Fellows are (detailed biographies are below):

  • Rene Michael "Mike" Baños, Philippines
  • Heda Bayron, Philippines/Thailand
  • Jose Jaime “Nonoy” Espina, Philippines
  • Edilberto "Herbie" Gomez. Jr., Philippines
  • Sigit Purwono, Indonesia  
  • Conrado “Charlie” Saceda Jr., Philippines
  • Hendrawan Setiawan, Indonesia
  • Yin Soeum, Cambodia 
  • Estrella Torres, Philippines
  • Ketut Wasa, Indonesia
  • Surya Wijayanti, Indonesia
  • Dwi Yuniati, Indonesia
  • Parista Yuthamanop, Thailand

Recipients of the fellowship will attend a seminar in Bangkok, Thailand, from Oct. 12 to 16 with journalists, psychologists and trainers from Taiwan, Indonesia, India and Australia.  Following the programme, Dart Centre Australasia will provide long-term support to fellows as they take knowledge of trauma awareness back to their home newsrooms in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The 2009 Dart Asia Fellows

Rene Michael "Mike" Baños has been covering news events in the southern Philippine cities of Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro for over twenty years. He has been involved in print, broadcast and now Internet media. He owns and is the content provider for kagay-an.com, an online news website for Cagayan de Oro, and has a news blog in The American Chronicle, a US news blog syndicated in 21 US cities. He was cited as "Tourism Writer of the Year" for the Department of Tourism Region 10's "Kaabag Award for Tourism Journalists" in 2006 and 2007. He is affiliated with the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network and was its Northern Mindanao Coordinator for 2007-2008.  He is married to Gardenia Ramos-Baños, a feature writer and romance novelist with whom he has three sons.

Heda Bayron has worked in Asia for more than a decade as a print and broadcast reporter, editor and journalism lecturer. She grew up in the conflict-ridden island of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines. Her journalism career started in the business pages of Manila's Businessworld newspaper, followed by years covering the Asian capital markets for magazines Asiamoney and The Asset. In 2000, she joined Voice of America's Asia News Center in Hong Kong. While with VOA, she has covered some of Asia's biggest news events and issues — the war on terrorism, the North Korean nuclear crisis, SARS, the 2004 Asian tsunami and China's economic and political ascendancy. She currently works freelance and is based in Bangkok.

Jose Jaime "Nonoy" Espina is currently managing editor of Dateline Philippines, an independent start-up news site, and vice-chairman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. He has been a journalist for more than 22 years, most of these spent in the field. Among the subjects he has covered in the Philippines are the communist insurgency and related issues of human rights, internal displacement and social justice. Most recently, he covered the effects of the mass displacement caused by hostilities between the Philippine military and secessionist rebels in central Mindanao.

Edilberto "Herbie" Gomez. Jr. started his journalism career as a newspaper correspondent 20 years ago. He has worked as a stringer for United Press International, Deutsche Presse-Agentur and Reuters, and as a correspondent for the now defunct Manila Chronicle, TODAY and The Manila Times. He served as president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club from 1999 to 2001. He was one of those who drafted the 2001 Code of Ethics of the COPC, the organization’s first since it was formed in 1951. He is presently the editor-in-chief of the Cagayan de Oro-based Mindanao Gold Star Daily. Gomez is an alumnus of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program on Investigative Journalism. He is also a recipient of the “Best Journalist of the Year” award given by the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro East Urban in 1994.

Sigit Purwono is a senior TV producer from Bali, Indonesia working with TVRI Bali. He has been working as a broadcast journalist for more than 18 years. He is a multiskilled television reporter working as a one-man news crew, producer, reporter, ENG cameraman and editor. He has worked work with international television networks such as Associated Press Television News and Australia's Seven Network. Purwono has covered events such as bombings in Bali, the drug smuggling trials of the Bali Nine and Schapelle Corby and pre-referendum East Timor.

Conrado “Charlie” Saceda Jr. is a a photographer for Dateline Philippines as well as a stringer for Reuters Pictures Manila. His past work includes working as a photojournalist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of the top broadsheets of the Philippines. He has been a photographer for more than 12 years working mostly in conflict news coverage in the southern Philippines. He is also a safety adviser for the International News Safety Institute and a member of the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network.

Hendrawan Setiawan is a television reporter for the television network Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia.  He has been a presenter on Metro TV and radio station Pro 2 FM. His exclusive reports include interviews with suspected murderers of IPDN student Cliff Muntu and the suspect arrested over the shooting of East Timor President José Ramos-Horta in April 2008.  He has also reported from Banda Aceh, capital of the province where approximately 130,000 people died in the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Yin Soeum is a Cambodian journalist who joined Indohine productions company in 1994. He is currently working as a freelance journalist, fixer and translator for television and print media. Soeum is a member of The Southeast Asian Press Alliance and has worked with the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights. He currently works part-time for the Voice of American and, as a translator and fixer, for international television networks and channels including the ABC, CNN, BBC, ZDF and DPA.

Estrella Torres is currently a diplomatic journalist with BusinessMirror in the Philippines. Her work includes writing features on foreign affairs, terrorism and transnational crimes in the Philippines and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Torres is also keenly interested in covering issues concerning the environment and climate change through analysis of government, nongovernmental organisations and international organisations like the United Nations and the European Union.  She has covered human rights extensively in the last few years, reporting on human rights abuses in Myanmar and the Philippines. She has been a human rights journalist for both the TODAY newspaper and The Manila Times and a court reporter for The Business Daily. She was a journalism professor at the College of Communication at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Ketut Wasa has been in journalism since starting as a TV journalist in Bali, Indonesia in 1982.  His many roles span current affairs, sport and daily news.  He has been editor-in-chief, head of news and senior producer.



Surya Wijayanti is based at Kantor Berita Radio 68H, the first and only radio news agency in Indonesia, with more than 600 radio stations in its network. KBR68H was established after the fall of the Suharto regime in 1999 with the vision of people’s democratization and empowerment. Curruntly, Surya is a broadcaster for the radio magazine programme “Sarapan Pagi”; editor and broadcaster for "Kabar Baru"; editor, producer and broadcaster for “Buletin Sore”; and producer for “Dari Bilik Suara.” Wijayanti's work includes covering the jogjakarta earthquake, investigating the misappropriation of funds following the 2004 Asian tsunami and investigating slavery in the east Sumba province of Nusa Tenggara Timur.

Dwi Yuniati has been a journalist since 2000 and is currently assignment editor for the television network Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia.  She has covered sociocultural news, crime and human rights. Yuniati has covered bombings in Bali and Jakarta, the 2004 Asian tsunami and many other tragedies and disasters. She is now responsible for editorial decisions, overseeing teams of reporters covering similar events.


Parista Yuthamanop is a business journalist with the Bangkok Post.  Over the last 15 years she has reported on development and macroeconomics including the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the current global recession and the last decade of economic hardship in Thailand. She has also covered the 2004 Asian tsunami, the September 2006 military coup in Thailand and, most recently, the political riots at the April 2009 Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Pattaya and Bangkok.


Programme faculty

Peter Cave, Current Affairs Foreign Editor, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Peter Cave is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's most experienced foreign correspondent. Over the past 30 years he has covered most of the world's trouble spots, winning Australia’s most prestigious journalism award five times for his coverage of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Iraq hostage Thomas Hamill. Cave helped pioneer the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s groundbreaking peer trauma support scheme.

Cait McMahon, Managing Director, Dart Centre Australasia, Australia

Cait McMahon, Ph.D. candidate, is a registered psychologist and full-time Managing Director of Dart Centre Australasia, with headquarters in Melbourne, Australia and activities throughout the Asia Pacific region. McMahon has been interested in the nexus of journalism and trauma since working as staff counsellor at The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Australia in the mid-1980s and 1990s. This interest resulted in postgraduate research in the area in 1993 with subsequent publications. To date, Cait is the only Australian psychologist to be published in the area of journalism and trauma.

Farida Mahri, Coordinator, Dart Centre Indonesian Programme, Indonesia

Farida Mahri coordinates Dart activities in Indonesia in collaboration with Dart Centre Australasia and Yayasan Pulih. Farida has a graduate degree in the social sciences and has previously worked in both media and human rights organisations. She has worked on issues including child trafficking, women's rights, economic development and social transformation. She was the chief editor for the Journalists Independence Alliance publications.

Irma Martam, Director, Yayasan Pulih, Indonesia

Irma Martam is a registered psychologist and director of Yayasan Pulih, a psychosocial trauma-recovery foundation. Yayasan Pulih's vision is of comprehensive recovery and empowerment for survivors of violence and natural disasters to become psychosocially healthy and prosperous in a society free of fear and violence. Yayasan Pulih promotes a democratic society with high respect for human rights, peace, social justice and gender equality. Martam has been working to educate the media profession on the subject of psychological trauma since 2003.

Iftikhar Gilani, Bureau Chief, The Kashmir Times, India

Iftikhar Gilani has been a journalist for the past 18 years. Having worked for various international and national news agencies and newspapers, he now heads the New Delhi bureau of the Kashmir Times, the largest-circulation English-language daily in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. He is also a correspondent for Pakistan's Daily Times and its weekly publication, The Friday Times, and contributes regularly to the South Asian service of Radio Deutche Welle. He has served as deputy chairman of Indian parliament's press advisory committee and member of the managing committee of the Press Club of India. Currently, he is vice president of the Press Association of India. He also authored the bestselling book "My Days in Prison," a memoir of time spent in prison on espionage accusations.

Smita Bharti, Co-founder, Sakshi, India

Smita Bharti is a creative educator on subjects including such diverse subjects as equality, gender, conflict resolution, leadership and sexuality. Drawing on her experience as an actor, filmmaker, teacher, playwright, director and management consultant, she delivers creative education across India. She has translated novels and has been published as a poet, playwright and research fellow. She has been certified as a trainer for participatory monitoring and evaluation, conflict management and training trainers for market access for small and medium enterprises. Currently, she heads Sakshi, a creative education organization focusing on gender, equality and leadership development.

Chiung-wen (Julia) Hsu, Associate Professor, National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan

Chiung-wen (Julia) Hsu is an associate professor at the College of Communication at National Cheng Chi University in Taiwan. She has a Ph.D. in communication from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and she has been working on media coverage of victims since 2004. As a former television journalist with the China Television Company, one of the four network stations in Taiwan, Hsu covered earthquakes, typhoons and several traumatic accidents. Following Typhoon Morakot, which hit the southern and eastern parts of Taiwan, she started a blog as an informative resource and discussion platform for reporters on the ethical treatment of victims, peer support and handling emotions caused by interviewing and reporting.