Young people should be taught to be more critical of what they absorb from the media, a leading Newspaper in Education (NiE) manager told a conference in Launceston, Tasmania, last week. Barbara Neder, the Los Angeles Times education manager, told delegates at the Pan Pacific Newspapers in Education (PANPA NiE) conference that the media had a role to play in teaching critical thinking. 'It's one of our responsibilities to help children look at newspapers, television and even music videos critically and analytically,' Ms Neder said. 'They should be encouraged to ask questions, such as 'what's their point of view?', 'what do they want us to do with this information?' This would be a training in using the information in a responsible way.' Ms Neder, the keynote speaker, said newspapers provided real world experiences for students in schools and adult education. She said Spanish families in Los Angeles were using the newspaper to develop their English language skills and to help with school work. 'There's even a debate in the Spanish community about whether there should be bilingual editions, because parents want their children to succeed in an English-speaking world.' The Los Angeles Times, which has a daily circulation of more than one million, supplies over 14,000 copies to schools daily as part of its education programme. 'The newspapers supplied are the same as those read by the parents of the children. There's nothing different, except that the teachers receive instruction on how to incorporate the newspaper into teaching.' Ms Neder said The Los Angeles Times' family programme provided children with fun things to do with their parents and family. 'It also helps with their education. Many parents want to help their children, but don't know how. Programmes like this can help them.' The first newspaper to adopt an NiE programme was The New York Times more than 50 years ago. Similar programmes have since been adopted worldwide. Opening the conference, The Examiner's chief executive, Lloyd Whish-Wilson, said the Newspapers in Education programmes had built up a wider understanding of what newspapers were trying to do. 'Newspapers in Education fit perfectly into the newspaper's role of being the community glue, the communicators, the stimulators and builders helping to create a vibrant society,' he said. Delegates from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand, the United States and Australia attended the conference. It included workshops on using the newspaper to teach English as a second language, putting newspapers into schools, ethics of business sponsorship, and youth writing camps.