16 February 2014
Editor of the Samoa Observer
PO BOX 1972
Re: Editorial “Setting the record straight.”
I read, with great interest, the editorial in today’s Observer by Mrs. Moore where she is “setting the record straight”, and after reading through to the end, I would like to take this opportunity to fulfill that promise.
Firstly, thank you for printing the Savali Newspaper interview of the Prime Minister from Saturday 14/02/15. As the only daily in Samoa, your newspaper has the widest circulation in Apia so your front page splash of the Prime Minister’s interview boosted our audience numbers significantly.
Secondly, I wish to make clear that the email sent from my office to the Observer’s editorial triumvirate of Savea, Mataafa and Marjorie on Saturday evening did not ask for the Observer to “hold the presses”, nor did the email request for a front page.
The content of the email was simply a courtesy note, letting you all know that the Savali Newspaper had just wrapped an interview with the Prime Minister, and if you were interested – it would be issued within the hour. I invite you to read the email again and let me know exactly how you extracted “hold the press” from it. In fact, your own Editor-in-Chief wrote back to me, and then even called me up to say that the Observer would wait for the Interview. Although appreciated, the eagerness of the Observer to “hold the presses” had nothing to do with me or my powers of persuasion. I suspect it was more to do with the fact that the Prime Minister’s interview would make for better reading on a Sunday, than “other news of interest”. And while on the topic, what other “news of interest” did you have to reshuffle? Was it a rugby story?
Let’s just call a spade a spade and admit that the Observer needs news and the Government is the news. We’re practically in a relationship. So despite your paper’s attempts to distance yourselves from the warm bosom of Government’s stream of information, I’m afraid you’re as reliant as a child on the nourishment it provides.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Observer and other media organisations rely on Government for their news. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Samoa is a small country from a big region in a huge world. Comparatively speaking there’s not much to report on, unless of course you are wizened and clever and manage to create the news yourself.
Browsing quickly through my cherished pile of Observers next to my desk, I can tell you off hand that since Thursday last week – there have been approximately 20 different stories relating to Government. And that doesn’t include the different Press Releases and court stories you print. Also I note that on Friday last week the Observer printed a total of three (3) stories that were written by your reporters. The other four (for a total of seven) were Press Releases.
I’m not so tactless as to outline what kind of revenue was collected from an edition that prints three original news stories (two of which were about Government), but perhaps your powerhouse trio of editors could explain why the good people of Samoa should overlook the fact that your newspaper makes a living off Government, and yet you insist that we – my office in particular – are basically begging you to “hold” your impressive state-of-the-art presses?
We, as a courteous and efficient office of Government, work hard to maintain great rapport with our media colleagues. We recognise that the media’s role in society is important, and we work hard to ensure your newspapers and radio shows and television programs are supplied with news on a regular basis.
In fact, I usually correspond with Mataafa. The only reason I specifically copied Savea and Marjorie in to my email was because I had not received a response from Mataafa from earlier last week when I had written to him and questioned the objectivity of one of the Observer reporters’ story lines. Our office does not favour any particular media organisation, nor do we provide scoops or special breaking news to any particular reporter. We issue our news to everyone on our media mailing list on the same day, at the same time, and by the same method. We also provide the same information to the public, government agencies, diplomatic corps, our overseas missions, civil society and the private sector through mailing lists, the Government Website, social media accounts and hard copies should anyone wander through our doors and want to know what’s going on.
Currently we provide Government news to around 20 different Samoan news organisations here and abroad (dozens of reporters) as well as regional news outlets. If any of your readership gather their news from alternative sources, they would have seen that the Newsline also ran the interview in their Sunday paper.
My office and I are here to help the media. All of the media. We don’t need to curry favour from any newspaper, radio or television station. So to my colleagues at the Samoa Observer, I ask that you don’t forget relationships that have been forged since time immemorial. Or perhaps only as far back as 1978.
The Observer is only one of a long list of news outlets that my office serves, and there are plenty of other media representatives who share our Press Releases, our news of Government initiatives, development projects and community programmes with those who matter the most – the people of Samoa.
Government of Samoa