Pacific Games media restrictions silly, ridiculous and unnecessary

The treatment of some members of the local media in relation to the coverage of the XVI Pacific Games Office is quite sad. It’s unnecessary.

With one week to go for this wonderful competition, whoever is responsible needs to come to their senses and do the right thing. This is the Pacific Games for crying out loud, where the Pacific way of mutual respect should be exercised.

This is not the Olympic Games or the Football World Cup run by Russians or South Americans. This is the Pacific Games run by Samoans for the people of Samoa and the Pacific islands.

In this part of the world, there is always a way to do things. There is a way to settle differences and disputes. It’s done through dialogue and respect.

Besides, we are talking about the treatment of members of the local media here. You see, after next week, everybody else – including all the fly-by-night media specialists and experts who are in Samoa to make their money from the Games and our taxpayers – will disappear into the night.

Those people at the Pacific Games Office, including the Chairman, Cabinet Ministers and everyone else involved, will be left with the same members of the local media they have so cruelly treated since these Games began. It would be ironic.

Indeed, you will not always have these international media personalities around. Which is why we are hoping that whoever placed these restrictions on the local media, restricting them from doing their job should just calm down and stop this nonsense.

If there are problems, get on with fixing it and let’s stand together and put our best foot forward for our country. What’s important is that the focus remains on the athletes and their heroics. That’s what the Pacific Games is all about.

And yet we cannot ignore the growing noise being made by some members of the local media on the way they have been treated. That includes reporters and photographers from this newspaper too.

The last time we checked, Samoa is a free country.

When you police and marshal reporters, photographers and media people like kids – and treat them like people who have targets on their backs, ordering them where to stand and what to shoot and not to shoot – that is not freedom.

When you don’t allow reporters to interview athletes and officials inside the stadiums and fields, while they are basking in the glory of their achievements, you are denying those athletes their moment in the limelight which they so deserve.

How else can you explain when reporters turn up with their Pacific Games Office-issued media passes to cover the Pacific Games Sevens tournament and they are asked to pay $5 to get in? What kind of media conditions are these?

What is wrong with flying a drone to get aerial pictures of the action on those sports fields? Is there a terrorism threat we are not aware of?

Is there a specific target for terrorists in Samoa today, that even photos and drones are controlled and monitored in this free country?

If anything these rules are draconian, they shouldn’t be used here.

Listen up, we understand there are differences between the TV networks which is fine; let them have their beef. We also understand there are rules and regulations when it comes to host broadcasters and the likes. Again, we have no objection to that. What we do have an issue with is over the top handling and restrictions on media people simply trying to do their work. Is that really necessary?

Here is the thing, when you place restrictions on what reporters, videographers, photographers can do, you are not just denying those media people the opportunity to do their work, you are denying thousands of people whom the media people represent.

The media after all are the eyes and ears of members of the public. For every reporter, he/she represents thousands of people who are their audience, readers and viewers. The same goes for photographers and news videographers.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Samoa; there are ways of doing things.

Now for the sake of the athletes and this country putting its best foot forward to host these games, somebody needs to tell whoever in the Pacific Games Office is responsible for these stupid restrictions, to take a chill pill and enjoy the Games and let the media people chronicle the wonderful and amazing journeys of the athletes and the teams in Samoa this week.

The Pacific Games – and the media coverage - is and should be about them. 

Have a great weekend Samoa, God bless!

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