18 February 2015
Editor of the Samoa Observer
PO Box 1972
Re: “If you want advice Rivers, ask your boss Tuilaepa. He knows.”
I thoroughly enjoyed and was greatly amused by your lengthy diatribe in today’s Observer.
If I was easily cowed and unsure of my own mind, I would have been shamed by your public chastisement. Luckily for me, I have been blessed with a strong and independent spirit, and I don’t scare easily.
Respectfully, I don’t need to ask the Prime Minister for his advice on this matter because this woman is capable of thinking and speaking for herself.
I won’t resort to personal attacks, because I have too much respect for you as a wizened wordsmith and an embattled media sage (and also because it’s not my style). However if you would be so kind, I would like to address a few of your comments:
1. Like most Government offices, yes, my office is tax-payer funded. And to a great extent, so is yours. Where do you think the POs come from to pay for all those Government ads in the Observer? That is tax-payer money: yours AND mine.
2. In reference to: “For someone who’s just barged in…..as if she’s Tuilaepa’s gift to the media.” Well, thank you. I’ve never considered myself to be a gift. But now that you mention it, you might as well enjoy my presence.
3. No one is forcing the Observer to print what you consider to be “page filler” Press Releases from Government. And by Government, I am referring to any informational release from any Ministry, Authority, Corporation etc. If you believe their work is not worthy of your “free” publicity, then you are well within your rights to decline them in place of your own news items. Far be it for any Government agency to clutter your paper with what you deem to be “trash” such as national development news, community projects, educational programmes, health initiatives etc etc etc. It may not be the “hard news” you prefer, the kind that guarantees your newsprint to sell out, but in my most humble opinion – it’s valuable and important information for the greater community who deserve more than the latest titillating, sensational headline.
Whilst you have made your feelings very clear in today’s editorial devoted entirely to me, I’ll tell you now that it doesn’t faze me. At all.
I will remain a loyal servant to the public and continue to go about fulfilling my duties. And to reiterate, those duties include clarifying some of the misinformation or worse, disinformation, put out there as ‘news’ about Government. After all, that was the onus of my letter to your office from 15/02/15 – to clarify that my office did not request the Observer to “hold your presses”, as your newspaper erroneously claimed.
To wrap – I consider you all colleagues, and yes that means the Observer’s reporters too. I know them all, and they know me.
My office serves many other media organisations. The Observer is but one.
Here’s wishing you an unceasingly prosperous 2015, Savea. May you continue to show us your wise, patient and profound thoughts in your editorials, for years to come.