MY SAY: Media freedom or abuse of free speech?

About the author:

Mataeliga Pio Sioa, Newsline Samoa newspaper editor. A veteran journalist in broadcast and print media.

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Just recently a news outlet in South East Asia rehashed in a story, an old issue about threats by PM Tuilaepa to close down the popular online site, Facebook.

After making several blurts about criticisms of the move by media freedom watchdog groups, the article went on to quote a faceless blogger, who is notorious for making wild, hurtful and defamatory claims at whomever and whatever takes his/her/their fancy.

The blogger has been made a cult hero for getting away with anything he wants to say regardless of who gets hurt in the process, without any fear of the law or the people defamed catching up to him.

He started off with attacks on the Government and as his freedom continues to hold secure, it has expanded into innocent people who may have offended him in one way or another or just out of a whim.

One of the bloggers more recent targets were Newsline Samoa and two other local news outlets, that were labeled supporters of Government propaganda.

As editor of the Newsline Samoa, the allegations at first struck like a good punchline in a funny joke that gives you the giggles.

  Newsline Samoa a propaganda newspaper for Government? Really?

Suddenly the mystery words that stand for the puzzling acronym LMAO started to make sense… Leave My Ass Out.  Excusez moi French.

When the fun faded, sadness started to set in.

The guiding principles for Newsline Samoa has always been fair and balanced reporting, right from the start. 

This is the fundamental principle of news reporting that is literally bashed into your head in journalism school.  There are always other sides to any story so always make sure the balance is there.

The accusation made about Newsline Samoa as a Government propaganda machine is easy enough to understand where it is coming from.

All the accuser wants to read in this newspaper are stories that attack the Government and portray them in a bad, shameful light so it will bring about their downfall.

Note that the blogger never attacks or make any such accusations about our daily friends Samoa Observer. Why, because, when it comes to Mata’afa and his hounds, they are more Mike Tyson when it comes to Government.

 Mata’afa and Co. will throw punches from every angle to get at Government.  The hardline approach has always been the Samoa Observer style from the start.

This is obviously the kind of take them down and drag them out appeal that turns on the complaining blogger.

Newsline Samoa is more Muhammad Ali. It is always about the balance that makes it possible to float like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

If the Government does good it gets a beautiful butterfly floating praises, if they do bad then the bee flies in battle formation with its sting at lock and load mode.

To the blogger who accused Newsline Samoa of being a Government pet, step into the ring mate and see how long you’ll last with Newsline Samoa Ali.

On a more serious note, the decision by the news outlet with the re-hashed story to include the comments by this blogger is very irresponsible.

The story legitimises the role this blogger plays and entices others to follow his lead and to spread the rot of his sick spite to hurt innocent people who have no way of defending themselves.

When journalists rehashed stories from bits and pieces of old news floating around from other sources, they will always run the risk of not doing justice to the true facts.

As for all these so called news freedom watchdogs, they would do well to find out for themselves what is really going on in a country before they start spouting off about freedom of speech.

Samoa is ranked higher than the US when it comes to media freedom.

Next time you want to blurt aloud about media freedom learn some facts first or as a media freedom watchdog you will do more harm than good to freedom of speech.

Enjoy Fathers Day.