Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year message from the Fiji Times - Friday, January 01, 2010

AS we start this new year, and a new decade, it is worth looking back to see how far we have come before facing up to the challenges we all still face.

Last year was a tumultuous one in Fiji with natural disasters, economic turmoil and social upheaval all of which tested our resolve but also showed how resilient Fiji is.

2009 marked the 140th anniversary of publication of the Fiji Times. Since our humble beginning in Levuka we have been your eyes and ears through some of the most momentous events in history, events that shaped modern Fiji.

With our talented and enthusiastic newsroom team we are committed to making sure that during 2010 we bring you as much information as we possibly can so that you can make well-informed decisions on those issues affecting your lives, and the lives of your children.

But as well as reporting on important news the Fiji Times re-affirms its commitment to maintaining a high degree of community involvement either directly or by highlighting the work of others.

In May 2009 we launched the Fiji Times Pride of Fiji awards, which gave everyone in Fiji the chance to have their say in honouring those men, women and young people who had made an extraordinary contribution to our community.

The nominees were an inspiration to us all for their courage, selflessness, pride in their country and love and respect for their fellow citizens.

We will again be running the Pride of Fiji awards in 2010 and will start calling for nominations later in the year.

Through our charity, the Fiji Sixes, we have assisted dozens of people fly overseas to receive critical medical treatment not available here. But next year, through the more wide-ranging Fiji Times Community Fund, we will be increasing our involvement with various projects. These will include carefully targeted programmes particularly aimed at education and health, two critical areas for all of Fiji.

Every month in 2009, in co-operation with the Fiji National Blood Service we hosted the Fiji Times Blood Drive at our Suva office and hundreds of much-needed blood donations were made by our generous readers. Next year we hope to expand this life-saving program.

In October in conjunction with the Fiji Cancer Society, we ran a week-long Pink Ribbon program, publishing daily stories in the paper to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment of breast cancer. This culminated in the printing of the unique "Pink" Fiji Times, part of the proceeds of which we were able to give to the Fiji Cancer Society to help them keep up their excellent work.

We will again be extensively supporting the pink ribbon program in 2010 and also in an education and awareness campaign for cervical cancer.

Similarly the Fiji Times played an active role in raising awareness and reducing discrimination against people suffering from HIV and AIDs by running a week-long series of articles and picture stories. In 2010 this involvement with the HIV and Aids campaigns, particularly in the workplace, will be extended.

Cyclone Mick, and the one that hit Nadi in January, show just how devastating nature can be. We applaud the efforts of our emergency services and are pleased that in 2009 we could contribute to their work by publishing a series of emergency plans so that every family is prepared for events like floods, earthquake and cyclone.

In 2010 we hope to work even closer with these experts, and organisations like the National Fire Authority, to better inform and thus protect people around the country.

The Yellow Ribbon program has been one of the great success stories of the Correctional Services Department and we are proud to maintain on-going support for it. It goes to the very heart of giving new hope to people at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

Like many other companies, despite these tough economic times Fiji Times Ltd is increasing our investment in our business reflecting our strong, long-term commitment to Fiji.

During 2009 we redesigned our paper giving it a more modern easy-to-read appearance. We introduced a TV and Entertainment Guide in the Sunday Times and extended our sports coverage on Mondays to a 12-page lift-out. We also introduced the Body and Soul section in Monday's paper.

This year there will be more innovation. More news. More entertainment. And much more sport (like the Suva Sevens later this month, of which we are a co-sponsor and which will bring some outstanding international talent to Fiji).

One of the things we have treasured over the years has been the feedback given to us by you, our readers. Everyone's opinion is valuable and unique and we invite you to keep giving us your honest comments. We may not always agree with you - and you may not always agree with us - but the two-way exchange is stimulating and important.

I, together with Netani Rika, the Editor-in-Chief of Fiji Times Ltd's newspapers, our senior management team and the whole Fiji Times family, would like to thank all our readers, advertisers, suppliers, contractors and friends for your support in 2009 and we wish you and your families a happy, healthy and rewarding 2010.

- Anne Fussell, Managing Director, Fiji Times Ltd

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