Media Council beats drum on its work

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CHAIRPERSON OF THE COUNCIL: Leautuliilagi Vanessa Barlow-Schuster.

CHAIRPERSON OF THE COUNCIL: Leautuliilagi Vanessa Barlow-Schuster.

PR - The Samoa Media Council has issued a statement to engage with members of the public and raise awareness about some of its initiatives. 

 “It is also timely in that as of late, the Samoa Media Council have been increasingly fielding concerns from our citizens around social media, the concept of cyber bullying and defamation of character and reputations,” the statement reads. 

 “We will continue to encourage our media practitioners and the public and consumers of media that our media practitioners’ continuous efforts to uphold the Code of Practice and the professional standards that underpin the code is part of a committed effort to be responsible, independent and genuinely accountable to the public whose trust they depend.

 “The Media Council Act 2015 and the Code of Practice are quite comprehensive in terms of handing complaints, self-regulation and professional integrity as a cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. 

It further states: “This Code of Practice is our practitioners’ safety net from any criminal or civil proceeding or the subject of a complaint before the Council and is the reassurance looking forward to grow in the profession. 

 “Underpinning all of this is also our recognition of the fundamental importance of freedom of expression. Alongside this is a clear public interest in ensuring those who are significantly harmed by unlawful communication have access to meaningful remedies.

 “This Code of Practice was 20 years in the making so not an overnight effort but rather has some very strong grounding, expertise and best practice that sits behind it to inform the final product.

These Core Principals are primarily:

1. Be accurate, do not mislead

2. Report fairly and with respect for others

3. Understand the laws as it affects journalism

4. Establish and administer an in-house process for complaints handling

5. Uphold high ethical standards of personal conduct as a journalist

6. Respect people’s privacy and dignity

7. Protect the welfare of children

8. Take care when reporting suicide, violence and other sensitive matters

9. Election reporting should be impartial and balanced

 “We are also very mindful that we need to appreciate the local context, and that the complaints process needs to meet the needs of all citizens, many whose first language is Samoan. 

 “As context and society changes, the harms that our people can be subjected too also change, especially with new technologies which can have effects that can be highly intrusive on one’s privacy. One of the Councils main concerns is protecting our citizens from substantial harm. It is these citizens which we wish to focus our activities on, citizens with legitimate complaints, thinking they have nowhere to go but the police and justice system. 

 “We need our complaints system to work better for them so as to get some redress for their harms.”

For 2018, the Council hopes to establish increased awareness of the complaints process in a way that is easily understood and to continue to promote the Code of Practice and to secure some funding so that they can have a dedicated focal point to handle enquiries and the complaints process. 

 “We will have monthly meetings which may on occasion involve expert guest speakers or a workshop type meeting.  We will also be translating into Samoan as part of reaching our communities these processes and procedures. 

“We look forward to ongoing support as we grow as a Media Council and a Council that can be respected for assisting our citizens who require redress when not wanting to revert to the Justice system for remedies for harm caused by false publications,” the statement said. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Chairperson of the Council: Leautuliilagi Vanessa Barlow Schuster, Phone: 31775, Mobile 7774433

© Samoa Observer 2016

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