"WATCHDOG ROLE" PLEA AT USP WANSOLWARA ONLINE LAUNCHING

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By Joycelyn Narayan Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 20, 2001 – Wansolwara Online/Pacific Media Watch)---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 Wansolwara Online.

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

He called on student journalists and other media representatives to remember the basics of journalism, which apply 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 organizations 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.

Wansolwara Online is a new section on the USP journalism program'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 realize this and journalism will get the funds it needs to develop."

Journalism coordinator David Robie told Wansolawara Online that the new website would give the journalism program a training boost on the eve of the Fiji elections.

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

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

The USP journalism program 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 specialized Pacific teaching resources and materials for the past three years.

Arterina Samasoni, of Samoa, a final year journalism student and cc-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.

The new website, Wansolwara Online, is at http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/index.html 

Title -- 3344 MEDIA: 'Watchdog role' plea at Wansolwara Online launching Date -- 20 August 2001 Byline – None Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- Wansolwara Online, 20/8/1 Copyright -- USP Journalism Status -- Unabridged

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