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* See PMW item 2289 at .

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 24, 1999 –Pacific Media Watch/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---The long-awaited Fiji Sun daily newspaper made its debut Friday with a pledge that it would "lift the standard of journalism in the country and in the [Pacific] region."

Publishing a 64-page edition - far bigger than its two established rivals, the Murdoch-owned Fiji Times and government-owned Daily Post, the Sun declared that it was in Fiji to stay.

The last Fiji Sun closed in September 1987 rather than open under a self-censorship regime imposed by military coup leader Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka.

"We are a newspaper devoted to serious journalism and our goal is to reflect the community. We will steer clear of the kind of sensationalism that characterizes some of today's mass media," said editor Connie Chew in an editorial.

"Responsible journalism looks at the causes, not just the effects of an event and it attempts to look at the story from as many angles as are pertinent - pro, con, broad, specific, current, historical."

The first front page featured a lead story saying Fiji's Parliament Secretary-General, Mary Chapman, faced the axe following a planned reshuffle of senior servants, and a report claiming that the pilots of the ill-fated Air Fiji flight which crashed in the rugged Naitasiri highlands in July had "traces of alcohol."

However, rival newspapers reported that, in fact, the pilots had over-dosed on medication for influenza.

On the Opinion Page, chief-of-staff Verleshwar Singh claimed in an article that while Western media had kept up with major changes to society and moved toward "new journalism," in Fiji and the Pacific "Melanesian journalism seems to have moved at a snail's pace."

He added that "journalism in the Melanesian Pacific is apparently sticking to the ideologies of 1800. Journalism seems to have been brainwashed with the Five W Rule. In Fiji, the 'Len Usher model of journalism' is stuck."

Singh was referring to Sir Leonard Usher, the former publisher of the Fiji Times and a founder of the regional Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).

According to editor Chew: "We are making history. Those who remember the old Fiji Sun which printed out of its press in Lami may also recall that its last issue had a September 25, 1987, dateline.

"Today, just one day shy of 12 years, this newspaper which carries the same name, debuts after much anticipation. Only the name itself is carried over, nothing more.

"Everything from the newspaper's format to its financial backers are all new."

* A former marketing manager of the Fiji Times, Tony Singh is publisher and a shareholder in the new company, Sun Fiji News, Ltd. Other shareholders are C J Patel and Co., Ltd., Vinod Patel and Co., Ltd. and Fijian Holdings, Ltd.

The previous publisher of the Fiji Sun, Newspapers of Fiji, Ltd., owned primarily by Sally Aw Sian, chairwoman of the Hong Kong company Sing Tao Holdings, Ltd., and New Zealand publisher Philip Harkness, withdrew from Fiji after the second coup in September 1987.

Title -- 2378 FIJI: New Fiji Sun daily newspaper makes debut Date -- 24 September 1999 Byline – None Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- PMW, 24/9/99 Copyright – PMW Status -- Unabridged

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