Media union seeks apology over 'bribe' controversy

The Journalists Association of Samoa (J.A.W.S.) is seeking an apology and restitution from the Loabay Global Network-Samoa website, after one of its reporters allegedly attempted to bribe a Police Officer. 

A letter sent by the President of J.A.W.S,. Rudy Bartley, to Hanna Anae Gago, the Owner of Loabay on Saturday reprimands the website for what it says is the alleged unethical behaviour of their video blogger, Gago Faau Gago.

The media union says the actions have tarnished the media industry in the country. 

Mr. Gago, who was heard on a video recording trying to give $20 to a Police Officer, if he was allowed him to get closer to the scene of a domestic violence incident and fire in which two people died.

Mr. Gago insisted he was doing his job as a reporter and testing the officer’s integrity. 

The Police Officer did not accept the offer but instead told Mr. Gago to leave the area. 

Mr. Gago had since been charged with bribery and is scheduled to appear in court this week.  

The J.A.W.S. President said the incident has undermined the reputation, credibility and integrity of the media.

“We have had reports of reporters being ridiculed, and victimized while they were doing their work, resulting from the incident,” the letter read. 

Mrs. Hanna did not want to comment on Sunday. 

“I do not wish to comment right now. However, let me say that Gago has engaged a lawyer to act on his behalf and all enquiries will be forwarded to the lawyer.”

She noted that the lawyer’s office is closed on Sundays. 

Mr. Bartley acknowledged that Loabay apologised for what happened. 

“This is a clear indication to us that you have admitted wrongdoing and we thank you for your apology. We note however that your apology was only published in Loabay and not all media,” he said. 

He said the media in Samoa has long been an advocate against corruption, especially with Government and non-government organisations and will continue to do so:

“Unfortunately this incident has tarnished the good work of the industry from the past and into the future. 

“This incident will also have a negative impact on the daily work of the media. 

“Confidential informants and other sources of news may not have confidence in providing information because of this incident, and some may demand or expect payment for information. 

“Furthermore, this is not the first time you have not complied with professional media standards and ethics.” 

The J.A.W.S. proposed remedial action against the Loabay includes having the outlet pay $1,000.00 in compensation; and to have the video blogger involved attend a four-day ethics course. 

Furthermore, they seek to have Mr Gago suspended from any media work including social media for one month.

“And a public apology should be distributed to all media outlets. Any breach of the above will result in referral for appropriate action,” Mr. Bartley added. 

“We hope that this incident has been resolved and will not happen again.”

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