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Fiji: Catching Them Young

Catching Them Young

http://www.cpu.org.uk/sydney_2005/forum/publication7.html

By Nidhi Dutt

SYDNEY (/CPU Online/Pacific Media Watch/): /The Fiji Times/ has launched /Kaila!/, the country's first youth newspaper, and the children of Fiji are loving it.

/Fiji Times/ managing director Tony Yianni highlighted the importance of giving children a forum of their own in which they can actively learn and communicate.

"It's become the voice of Fiji, very quickly, rather surprisingly because they trust the paper," he told the Commonwealth Press Union editors forum in Sydney this week.

In nations such as Fiji where technological uptake is slow and in some areas non-existent, newspapers act as an important tool for national development.

For a nation like Fiji, with a population of 800,000, /Kaila!/ serves as an educational resource with 30 to 40 per cent of the newspaper's content based on a standardised curriculum.

"Now all of sudden Kaila! is bought in some islands where the /Fiji Times/ doesn't even go," he said.

As the creators of /Kaila!/ have found, children's newspapers bridge the gap, in terms of resources and knowledge, between children from rural and urban areas.

"The difficulty we have is that a lot of them (children from rural areas) not only do not have the internet, they do not have electricity, they do not have water, they do not have windows, and they do not have librariesŠ/Kaila!/ has become their library," said Yianni.

The creation of an all encompassing medium for young people allows for the forging of a unique identity and method of communication. Newspapers in other countries have experimented with youth editions, and most have featured newspaper in education sections.

Yianni highlighted the importance of content control due to the sensitivity and vulnerability of children to media material.

Such issues also highlight the important social responsibility editors and journalists have to their readers, Yianni said.

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