First act of Samoa Media Council is a ‘Code of Ethics’
Apia, SAMOA — “It’s a dream come true,” for former president of the Journalists Association of Samoa (JAWS) Galumalemana Tipi Autagavaia who initiated the move to legalize the Samoa Media Code of Ethics more than 10 years ago. Following the establishment of the Samoa Media Council last week, their first order of business was to officialize the Media Code of Ethics in Samoa this week. The Media Council was appointed by the National Media Association of Samoa – JAWS (Journalists Association of Samoa), as prescribed under the Media Council Act 2015. Samoa News is a member of JAWS.
Responding to Samoa News questions, Galumalemana said that JAWS has been behind it all along. “The organization followed and adopted a code of ethics from the United States Professional Journalist organization. When I was president more than ten years ago the executive felt it's better to localize a code of ethics to include not only journalists, but the media as a whole. This is to lift the standard of journalism and for the media to do the job responsibly — fair, accurate and accountable to the public when we make mistakes, Samoa has its own unique culture as well a small environment.”
He also commented on the media outlets in Samoa who haven't signed up as members of JAWS and haven't been supportive of the move to establish a media council. Galumalemana pointed out that some have supported the move while, some disagree and they have their own reasons, however a majority of the industry does support the initiative to establish a national media code of ethics. “I respect the decision by media organizations who are against it and that's democracy, but I do believe that one day they will join us as that's the spirit of the Samoans, they work together and support each other.”
Under the Media Council Law with the establishment of the council and Code of Ethics all media personnel are covered under the legislation whether they are members or not.
Appointed to chair the Media Council is lawyer Leautulilagi Vanessa Barlow Schuster and members who are representing the community include; Reverend Vaiao Ala’ilima Eteuati; Reverend Dr. Fa’alepō Tuisugaletauā; Seumanutafa Dr. Malcom Hazelman; Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin; Sasa’e Fualautoalasi Walter; To’omata Sita Leota; Ulu Maluofinao Shinn Ete; Leatuavao Lefeau Ioane Malaki and Le’apai Valoavalo Tusani.
The members representing the Media Industry are Fa’aolo Utumapu-Uta’ilesolo; Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson; Lagi Keresoma; Galumalemana Tipi Autagavaia and Emil Adams.
According to JAWS president, Apulu Lance Polu, the Code will be the guideline for the Samoa media and will be central to the work of the Samoa Media Council in ensuring prescribed standards and ethics are maintained in the media. “Also central to the Code of Ethics is upholding media freedom, the freedom of information and expression as guaranteed under Samoa’s Constitution.”
The Code is the result of ten years work and addresses prevailing advances in the media landscape including the social and the mainstream media platforms. The JAWS President expressed gratitude and confidence in the caliber of the members being appointed. “The high caliber and quality of the members appointed after expressing their interest to serve in the Council, reflects the care they share of the importance of the media to our democratic process and our people. The experience of Council members representing the Community traverse a wide scope of careers such as theologians and church ministers, international public servants, university lecturers, lawyers and a sports and social media enthusiast,” he said.