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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Grant will boost PBS student news network

By Caryn Kunz
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

PBS Hawaii President and CEO Leslie Wilcox interviews Wai'anae High School senior Heidi Neidhardt during a news conference for Hiki No, a new statewide student news network.

CARYN KUNZ | The Honolulu Advertiser

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People may make tax-deductible donations in support of Hiki No at pbshawaii.org. Organizations interested in becoming underwriters may contact Lucy Ahn at lahn@pbshawaii.org.

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PBS Hawaii on Monday announced plans to create a first-of-its-kind statewide student news network with an initial grant of $100,000 from the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation.

Middle school and high school students from across the state will collaborate through a "virtual newsroom" to produce broadcast-quality newscasts from their respective communities that will be aired on PBS Hawaii and streamed online beginning early next year.

"It's just the perfect way to get news out through the eyes and the thoughts of our youth," said Candy Suiso, program director of Wai'anae High School's Searider Productions. "Once we heard the idea, we said, 'Let's go how can we help?' "

The first Hiki No newscasts will air once per week beginning in February 2011 between BBC World News and PBS NewsHour, gradually increasing to six days per week by the beginning of 2012.

All content also will be available to view on demand at www.pbshawaii.org.

The program's name, Hiki No, or "can do" in Hawaiian, reflects attitudes on all levels, from students and teachers to major grantors and PBS officials, participants said.

"I see an environment where students use technology to disseminate information," said Haunani Seward, director of Kaua'i charter school Ke Kula Ni'ihau O Kekaha. "No longer is school just a top-down model or a transference of knowledge from teacher to student, but school now becomes a two way street of teaching and learning. How exciting is that?"

PBS Hawaii President and CEO Leslie Wilcox said, "This builds leadership, collaborative leadership, which everyone agrees we need in the future. We can't go back to top-down leadership, and the reason for that is that no one person has all the answers."

All public, private, or charter middle or high schools in the state are invited to participate in Hiki No, and while 30 have already expressed interest, Wilcox believes that many more will join.

Hiki No Managing Editor Susan Yim will work with participating schools this year to establish how the network will run and to provide professional guidance on creating fair and balanced news coverage.

"We want to push digital media. That's the way the kids learn now," Suiso said. "Everything is virtual, it's real time, it's timely, and it's just storytelling at its best."

PBS Hawaii hopes to raise $900,000 over three years to fund Hiki No, with hopes that the program will eventually be self-sustaining through community partnerships and underwriting.

$330,000 has been raised so far with the Ching Foundation grant and a $200,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting last year.