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More than twenty journalism students of the National University of Samoa celebrated World Press Freedom Day at the Oceanside Campus yesterday.

In recognising the event, the Media and Journalism class put together the Samoa Journalists Journey in Island Democracy booklet, a tribute to local journalists.

As part of their project, the students had also put together videos and radio presentations of veterans and those currently working in the industry.

The students were later rewarded in its Inaugural Journalism Student Awards contest, a part of the celebration.

Senior Lecturer, Misa Vicky Lepou said the initiative was to coincide with the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize award done annually.

“We hope to continue the awards every year,” she said. “The presentations are in recognition of the local media role and contribution to Island democracy.

“Students have worked tirelessly in putting the booklets and presentations together and they have put in a lot of effort in their work.”

Misa also acknowledged the support of the industry and the business community who donated prizes.

 In her keynote address, UNESCO Officer In-Charge, Susan Vize, spoke on the importance of press and their role. She emphasised that “it’s not just about government creating a free environment where speech and a flow of information is available.

“Journalists also have a responsibility. It’s your responsibility to make sure that information flow is accurate, it’s timely and it’s ethically reported and objective.

“It is a big responsibility on the journalist as well as the government.”

Secondly, Ms. Susan pointed out Samoa is lucky they have a “free media”.

“We do have a government environment that allows free speech,” she said.

“We have (an environment) where the media can say things that may not be so fluttering to the government but that is a good thing.

“It creates dialogue and the whole purpose of freedom of information is so that there is a dialogue and the opinion of everyone is heard.”    

Ms. Susan reminded students that education is the starting point.

“It is great that we have students who are starting to address the issues faced by journalists but make sure they are equipped with skills so they would know how to be safe.

“Education as a journalist doesn’t mean you have to know all the technical skills, and know how to work a camera it is about being able to understand those ethics from what is right and what is wrong.”

The students were congratulated for their work and contribution in World Press Freedom Day.  

The Best Print Tribute recipients were Joshua Lafoa’i and Seia Ualesi.

Ms Ualesi also won the Best Radio Tribute while first year students were awarded for Best Video Production.  

The prizes were donated by Samoa Observer, $500, Talamua Media providing three copies of Business and Trade Directories and $200.

Others that help was Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson with voucher and gifts, Environment Weekly with $50 cash prize and Samoa Stationery and Books who gave $150 worth of vouchers plus t-shirts.

A copy of the Samoa Journalists journey was handed over to Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia on behalf of JAWS.

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