The Samoa Observer and the International Press Institute (I.P.I.) rolled out the red carpet for a special premiere of Steven Spielberg’s movie, The Post, at Apollo Cinemas last night.
The movie, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, details Katharine Graham’s struggles as the Publisher of The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal.
It highlights the importance of press freedom and the critical role played by the free media in democracy.
Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa was among a host of Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament at the event.
They were joined by the Chief Justice, his Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu, members of the diplomatic corps, government leaders and representatives of the business community.
The evening was part of the Samoa Observer’s 40th Anniversary events, with the official celebration scheduled for later this year.
The Editor of the Samoa Observer, Mata’afa Keni Lesa, spoke about the significance of the movie and the connection to the Samoa Observer.
“While all that was happening during the Nixon era, just down the road from The Washington Post Office, was a small bookshop called, The Globe Books, where a young man from Samoa, Sano Malifa, was working,” Mata’afa said.
“Mr. Malifa was so inspired by the events from that time; he returned to Samoa eight years later and started the Samoa Observer. Through hard work and by the grace of God, the Samoa Observer is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year.
“Now they talk about life and events coming around full circle.
"After his own tears, blood and struggles with issues of Press Freedom in Samoa, in year 2000, Savea Sano Malifa returned to Boston, U.S.A. Accompanied by the Publisher, Muliaga Jean Ash, Savea was honoured as one of fifty I.P.I. World Press Freedom Heroes.
"He shared the same honour and the same stage with, Katharine Graham.” (read Mata’afa’s remarks on page 13).
In a video message from Vienna, Austria, the Executive Director of I.P.I, Barbara Trionfi, paid tribute to both Katharine Graham and Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa.
“In honouring I.P.I. World Press Freedom Heroes in the year 2000, Katherine Graham, also an IPI Hero and whose commitment to journalistic integrity and courage is shown in the film “The Post”, said: “The Heroes of the I.P.I. demonstrate that in spite of every obstacle and every constraint the truth ultimately prevails and is made known.”
“Today, as the information landscape is increasingly fragmented, the value of quality, independent, public interest journalism is greater than ever.
“People need accurate, fair and diverse journalistic sources in order to be able to develop informed opinions, participate in the public debate and so contribute to democratic governance. That is why, today more than ever, we must cherish press freedom.”