PR - The Executive of the Journalists Association of Samoa (J.A.W.S) has started the process of establishing a Media Council to receive and investigate complaints from the public about media coverage.
After its first meeting this week, the Executive has decided to call for Expressions of Interest (EoI) from media personnel and members of the public who wish to be members of the Media Council.
The call for Expressions of Interest is to ensure transparency and accountability in the process of selecting Council members.
There had been suggestions to appoint an interim media council due to the latest events surrounding the treatment of the late Jeanine Tuivaiki story at the front page of the Sunday Samoan but the J.A.W.S. Executive says this is the process that’s now heading towards endorsing the Media Council Act of 2015 and while it understands the immediate need to establish such a council, the process to ensure transparency and accountability is vital.
J.A.W.S President, Apulu Lance Polu says this is not an easy task due to the administration work involved in the establishment of the Media Council, the needed resources and the costs involved but there is hope to make a decision as soon as possible once the E.O.Is are received.
The Media Council was an initiative of J.A.WS as a self-regulatory mechanism that also ensures media ethics and standards are observed.
The initiative received funding from the Thompson Foundation in Wales and the study and resulting Report was the basis of wide media consultations in Samoa that led to the Media Council Bill that was passed by Parliament last year.
The initiative had also been endorsed and pushed by the Government following many concerns raised in the way the media had treated stories in the past.
The Media Council is appointed by the Executive Committee of J.A.W.S and is to be chaired by a lawyer who has at least five years experience as a lawyer or as a judge and has no direct interest in the Association.
Other members of the council include five media representatives and five community representatives.