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Wesleyan College

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Abstract

This research investigates media freedom in Sāmoa by identifying the country‟s obstacles to freedom of expression and proposing strategies for generating change in the media industry. The paper assesses the local media initiatives of the Journalists Association of (Western) Sāmoa (JAWS), Sāmoa Observer newspaper, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Media and Journalism Programme at the National University of Sāmoa (NUS), and evaluates their strengths and shortcomings in providing services for the community. It also examines how journalists balance cultural sensitivity in reporting and what ideas news organizations, journalists, journalism students, and media educators have for improving media standards and accountability within a society where freedom of expression is a relatively new and challenged concept. This research draws upon primary resources such as personal interviews, media lectures at NUS, presentations at the Inaugural Pacific Media Networks Meeting, as well as print, online, and broadcast news sources. Secondary resources were consulted to obtain background information on Pacific news outlets. Surveys were also distributed in the Media and Journalism Programme to provide students with an opportunity to give course feedback and the data is utilized to suggest ideas for creating a more sustainable relationship with the media industry and improving journalism standards across Sāmoa. I conclude that the democratic concept of freedom of expression is met with traditional disapproval because it threatens the balance of power established by the chiefly system and is guided by a code of ethics based upon universal principles and values created by the media industry. Since these values are often at variance with local village standards and the interests of government, the field of journalism in Sāmoa has not developed prestige and journalists often feel conflicted balancing values of fa’aSāmoa (the Sāmoan way) with the industry‟s proposed guidelines of transparency and responsible news reporting.

Disciplines

Broadcast and Video Studies | Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Critical and Cultural Studies | International and Intercultural Communication | Journalism Studies