To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines.
First Published: 27th September 1979
I suppose I can get away by saying – Happy Birthday and I wish you well. I’d like to say a little more.
The “Observer” was launched one year ago by way of indulging the caprice of a somewhat querulous reporter who believed that he could do better on his own.
It was a brave effort because striking out on newspaper business in Apia has not by and large brought good fortune let alone spiritual and mental fulfilment.
There was a tendency therefore for people to say when the first issue appeared in the streets of Apia ‘very good for a start but can the effort be sustained’.
One year later I will have to acknowledge even if a little grudgingly that the Observer has become an established feature of the Apia scenery.
On the face of it, it seems that it has weathered its teething problems and on the face of it seems happily headed being a survivor.
I say on the face of it because the financial position of the Observer is unknown to me but it surfaces faithfully every week.
As a paper it is well put together even if occasionally its logic isn’t.
It is, one year later, better patronised by business and even by patrons who ironically the Observer spends most of its time rubbishing.
The last reason why I say it is heading happily towards the status of a survivor is that the Editor seems, again on the face of it well bale to indulge his idiosyncrasies even to the point where he feels he can thumb his nose at politicians, bureaucrats, their values and their cocktail parties, and still manage to retain his contacts – “deep throat” and all.
But aside from the Editor, there are several outside contributors: - the cartoon with the caption “And whose confidence dost than proclaimeth,” or the skylab cartoon where the chief prays with a tenuous note of reproach, “Almighty God what have you got against my taro patch” has made a lasting imprint in my mind.
The Oliana column frothing anger or it is resentment, Lapa Ifi striving to make a legitimate case and very often succeeding ensures lively reading.
Mixed bag indeed. If I were asked to sum up “Well of course the paper reflects the characters of the reporters – idealistic, cranky, cantankerous, bullheaded sometimes right and frequently wrong but it is redeemed by the fact that it’s never dull and it is always stimulating.”
“Nevertheless, I look forward to another year of being in turns, lifted, prodded, annoyed, misrepresented – which reminds me that the headings ‘PM wants CJ out’ and ‘Appealing to PM is time wasting’ does not represent fair reporting.”
With all that I hasten to say, I wish the Observer many happy birthdays.