J.A.W.S. President challenges Prime Minister

The President of the Journalists Association of (Western) Samoa, Rudy Bartley, has called on the Prime Minister to stop "mistreating" the media and challenged him to instead officially complain to the Media Council.

In an interview, Mr. Bartley lamented that the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, “chooses” which media can pose direct questions to him at press conferences and which media cannot.

“What he’s doing is not right," he said. 

“And if he’s doing this because there are issues [with the stories] the Prime Minister needs to file a complaint, instead of making public comments attacking all the media, making it seem like the entire media fraternity did something wrong.

“He (the Prime Minister) can file a grievance against that specific media outlet with the Media Council."

The President also urged the Prime Minister to “leave [the media] alone to do [their] job.

“We have a Media Council, which is what he (the Prime Minister) wanted. Keep in mind this is what the Government did; they set up the Media Council and this is really their doing [for the media] to self-regulate,” Bartley said. 

“This is what he wanted is for us to be self-regulated, if there are issues there is a process where people can complain and even he should complain to us. He set it up but he’s not even using it.”

The President noted the irony that the Council was set up by the Government and yet had not been put to use by Government figures. 

He said Tuilaepa should use the process that he set up and file a complaint.

“The J.A.W.S. just came on board at the last minute, but they are the ones that approved this law [establishing the Media Council],” Mr. Bartley said. 

The J.A.W.S. came to assist the establishment of the Media Council, and issuing of our Code of Ethics guidelines as part of a self-regulation regime overseen by the Government. 

Mr. Bartley then urged the media to report accurately, responsibly and very the facts first.

“We will always turn to the government to verify issues and seek their comments, in the spirit of fairness and accountability; one must be given the chance to comment,” he said. 

Always have evidence as proof and you have nothing to worry about. We also have a Code of Ethics which is legally binding and can be used in court.”.


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