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By Christine Gounder, Reggie Dutt and Peter Emberson University of the South Pacific journalism students

SUVA, Fiji (March 13, 2000 – Pacific Journalism Online/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Vice-Chancellor Esekia Solofa welcomed the "space age" media education progress at the University of the South Pacific today when he opened the newsroom with F$ 22,000 (US$ 10,837) worth of new multimedia computers.

He said that this helped fulfill the objective of the university in providing graduates who were well educated and the best available for their role in the Pacific.

But he called on the news media industry to not lose sight of the needs of the vernacular languages and that "rural journalism" deserved to be given the boost enjoyed by what he called the urban media.

The university has bought six new multimedia computers for the program and they were demonstrated today by students with the use of sound bites from their FM station Radio Pasifik.

Mr. Solofa said the university would continue to support the journalism program in the future. He said he had been impressed with its achievements so far.

"The university will continue to be committed to developing the journalism program," he said.

He compared the iMac computers with others generally used in the university and said they were very impressive -- "but far more Expensive."

He said he was happy with the development of the proposed postgraduate course for the journalism program, which was due to start with one course in the second semester this year.

Journalism coordinator David Robie said the new journalism computers heralded the start of a better era for the program after a struggle with limited facilities.

Now the twin newsrooms have 12 computers with desktop publishing programs for both training newspapers and the online website – and each computer is equipped to produce Internet, radio and video news content and clips.

More than 60 students were enrolled in the journalism program, a number that was too large for the facilities.

Mr. Robie said the program was developing rapidly and its future depended on journalism students themselves.

The young program had produced 28 journalism graduates so far and they were doing well in the field around the Pacific.

Some were being promoted quickly and their achievements demonstrated the value of university education.

In spite of the earlier limited facilities, the journalism students had recently won three awards for their two newspapers.

The head of the literature and language department, Dr. Patrick Griffiths, stressed the "desperate situation" the journalism program was facing last year and thanked Mr. Solofa for providing the program with the computers.

Title -- 2603 EDUCATION: USP vice-chancellor opens 'space age' newsroom Date -- 13 March 2000 Byline -- Christine Gounder, Reggie Dutt and Peter Emberson Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Pacific Journalism Online (USP), 13/3/00 Copyright -- PJO Status -- Unabridged

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