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Media Association to file complaint on LoaBay incident

The Journalists Association of Samoa (J.A.W.S.) is filing a complaint with the Media Council to investigate an online news media report for an alleged breach of professional standards.

The alleged breach follows a livestream post by the LoaBay Paefika Production online media on Saturday. The company's reporter was filming the aftermath of the death of two individuals at Malifa

The owner of LoaBay media, Gago Faau Gago, in his livestream report told a Police Officer at the crime scene that he would give him $20 if he allowed him to get closer to the scene. 

Mr. Gago insisted he was doing his job as a reporter and asked to get pass the Police officer. 

The Police officer did not accept the monetary offer but instead told Mr. Gago he was not allowed in the area. 

In a separate video, the owner of LoaBay also livestreamed one of the deceased being removed from the crime scene by the Police. 

But President of J.A.W.S., Rudy Bartley, said the actions of Mr. Gago were unethical and disappointing. 

“[The] J.A.W.S. Executive will be meeting and filing a complaint on behalf of the industry with the Media Council on this particular incident,” said Mr. Bartley. 

“The complaint is for breach of professional standards and [that the] integrity of the media industry has been compromised. 

“This is unacceptable and it makes a mockery out of us in the industry.”  

About Mr. Gago attempting to bribe the Police Officer, Mr. Bartley said it was unlawful.

“It’s unacceptable and it goes against our standards and integrity of our work,” he said. 

“It is also illegal to bribe a Police officer and he should have known better…” 

He pointed out proper training is needed for the media outlet as they have a responsibility to the public. 

Mr. Gago, when contacted for a comment on Saturday, said he was testing the Police officer when he made comments offering him money. 

Meanwhile, the President of J.A.W.S. said the livestreaming of the event, in which the body of one of the deceased was removed, is against the Media Code of Ethics. 

The code includes guidelines for journalists when reporting on suicide, violence, sensitive matters and shocking situations. 

It states that when reporting on such events, language should be used with due consideration for the family and friends of the deceased. 

The guidelines add that such events should be reported with integrity and while avoiding language and images that may cause unnecessary offence or offend sensitivities. 

Another senior journalist, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia also expressed concern with the coverage by the LoaBay. 

The senior journalist said it is disappointing that there is a Code of Ethics that guides work of journalists and yet the online media has ignored it. 

Autagavaia said the LoaBay online media has done this several times in its reporting and it’s irresponsible. 

He urged LoaBay and other media representatives to read the Code of Ethics and follow the guidelines. 

While the press has freedom to report on such incidents, the senior journalist said there are also limitations in its works and areas in which they should not be free to enter. 

Autagavaia said the media and Police need to work together so that authority can understand the importance of the media's work. 

He explained it has been a problem for the media in the past when interacting with Police officers at crime scenes. 

He said the Police should be upfront and provide immediate information so that reports are accurate. 

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