News Item

​Samoa plays catch-up

Success Stories 6 Jul 2017

On June 25, three Pacific-based journalism students Joshua Lafoai, Shivika Mala and Linda Filiai arrived in Auckland to take part in the two-week Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) 2017 Media Programme Internship. PCF asked the three students to produce an article about their time in New Zealand. Stemming from National University of Samoa (NUS) in Apia, Joshua shares his experience.

By Joshua Lafoai

Media practice and standard are completely different between the Pacific and in New Zealand.

Every aspect of journalism in NZ speaks volume of the transparency and accountability of those in authority, and the level of journalism practice they are in.

The attitudes of the general public towards journalism is beyond what I have experienced in Samoa.

In Samoa, only a rare few would understand how journalists work and how valuable our work is in society as a fourth estate.

Accessing information in Samoa takes whole lot of effort, time and persuasion.

For younger journalists, it’s even harder to build rapport with sources as they are forced to familiarise with an older generation,who are master manipulators of culture and words to spin stories.

In NZ, there is a professional standard where authorities and sources mutually respect the journalist despite age or position.

I realised this when we met with Detective Inspector Faamanuia Vaaelua of the Manukau Police.

Vaaelua says the Police value the support of the media, especially journalists as they are a medium of communication they rely on to pass messages to the rest of the country.

Coming from Samoa I’ve picked up these differences in how most of society views journalism.

In Samoa, ae are known as the nosy ones, the faikakala.

This defeats the purpose of journalism as a whole and it’s why there is a massive gap between the standard NZ.

Secondly, the facilities, the resources and the expertise here in NZ is beyond what Samoa's media has access to.

After seeing offices like Pacific Media Network (PMN), Tiki Lounge Productions, NZME, and TVNZ, I have noticed there is an abundance in resources and staff.

The equipment journalists use here is backed by the quality of the work outcome that is in the paper, on the radio or on TV. In Samoa, most of the work relies on coordination and management of staff.

There is a definite need to catch-up so Samoa can reach the same standards – in the way journalists write, the equipment they use and the facilities they work in.

These all play a part in helping the media produce quality material that makes a difference.

Despite Samoa’s struggles, the National University of Samoa’s Media and Journalism Programme has been striving to establish a Bachelor in Journalism studies.

This means higher standard training for local journalists.

That is why it’s so important NUS takes part in the PCF Media Programme Internship.

I have made some great insights on where Samoa’s media is in comparison to NZ, and where we need to be to become a force to reckon with in democracy and to ensure we are doing our jobs as journalists.

(Photo caption: Joshua Lafoai with Barbara Dreaver at TVNZ.)