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'Watchdog Role' Plea At Wansolwara Online Launch

'Watchdog Role' Plea At Wansolwara Online Launching

By JOYCELYN NARAYAN: August 20, 2001 Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA: A pioneering Fiji internet publisher today called on new journalists to be committed to the basics of watchdog journalism and use technology as an aid.

Yashwant Gaunder, managing director of FijiLive.com and the Review news magazine, said he believed some of today's "new age" journalists lacked the commitment of "old dogs" like people of his generation.

"It is important that the technology doesn't get in the way of journalists being the watchdog of the people and the age old traditions of hard-hitting journalism," Gaunder. said at the launching of the Wansolwara Online.

Gaunder praised the University of the South Pacific's journalism programme initiative on developing the news training website.

He called on student journalists and other media representatives to remember the basics of journalism which applied equally to new media technologies.

Gaunder also called for more training for journalists and questioned the policies of aid donors in the region, saying too much money was being spent in the development of media training organisations and not enough on the actual training of journalists.

FijiLive made its mark in the development of internet journalism with the coverage of the 1999 Fiji election and again during the attempted coup last year when "FijiLive" became a media catchword for Fiji in crisis.

"I've never been approached by aid organisations to sound out our views on training," Gaunder said.

Wansolwara Online is a new section on the USP journalism programme's award-winning Pacific Journalism Online website, which was assisted by UNESCO when it was established in 1998.

Complimenting the student journalists on their efforts, the head of the department for literature and language, Pio Manoa, said that journalism - in contrast to many other disciplines at the university - was an expensive course.

"I have told the Vice-Chancellor that journalism is an expensive outfit," he said.

"The university will gradually realise this and journalism will get the funds it needs to develop."

Journalism coordinator David Robie said the new website would give the journalism programme a training boost on the eve of the Fiji elections.

"It reflects the importance of the website in our training programme with students having to develop their news writing skills, research and accuracy under real time deadline pressure," he said.

The programme put great emphasis on the basics of journalism, but treated online media equally as traditional print, radio and television skills.

The USP journalism programme pioneered online journalism teaching in the region after earlier work by the University of Papua New Guinea, and has provided an Online Classroom section with specialised Pacific teaching resources and materials for the past three years.

Arterina Samasoni, of Samoa, a final year journalism student and co-editor of Wansolwara Online, said the website had been planned to be developed over a longer period of time but with the elections next week, it was decided to launch it in time for the countdown.

"The last two weeks have been very hectic but the team effort saw us through and the result is the new Wansolwara Online," she said.

A special section was devoted to election coverage, and other developments were planned for the future.

New animated graphics on the website were designed from student ideas by James Ranuku, an illustrator and cartoonist at the USP Media Centre who has worked for the Fiji Times, the Sun and the Review.

New website at: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/

+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE: http://www.pmw.c2o.org


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