Need for independent journalism so critical
The role of the International Press Institute (I.P.I.) is to support press freedom and independent journalism, which lies at the core of Samoa Observer.
This is according to Deputy Director of the I.P.I, Scott Griffen, when addressing Samoa Observer reporters during its editorial meeting led by Editor-in-Chief, Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa yesterday.
Mr. Griffen spoke about the challenges to press freedom around the world and how Governments used libel laws to shut down the media or jailed journalists.
“Part of our role is to stand up and defend independent media like the Samoa Observer,” he said.
Mr. Griffen said part of their work involves running advocacy programmes to defend the media against politicians calling outlets “fake news” and attempting to deliberately undermine trust of the media.
Another challenge he highlighted is how readers trust the media and readers understanding of what journalism is about.
“Here in Samoa and other countries the rise of social media and digital communication, where anyone can basically take to the internet, act as a journalist or represent themselves as a journalist.
“All in all digital communication is good. More people have access to information, but there is a lot of disinformation out there and actual fake news which is a big challenge for journalists as less and less understand what it is that real journalists do and what independent journalism is.
“If you go online, how do you as a reader and audience interpret that information and understand which sources are authentic, which sources have taken into account journalistic background and practices and compiled information.
“And from our point of view there is a lot more work to be done, in explaining to the public why good journalism matters and the steps that go into putting together a story,” he said.
Mr Griffen said the public needs to understand the process of compiling a story and checking facts.
“We have to explain to people how that process works and why they should value it and why this is something to be treasured,” he added.
The Deputy Director also noted the Samoa Observer is well versed with this issue.
“I know that you also do a lot of public outreach and explain to people why they should care about reading the Samoa Observer and paying for content, which is a big issue in trying to convince people that journalism is something that has to be paid. It is not something for free. The work that you are doing costs money and it’s something we have to value.”