MY SAY: Is Samoa A Well Informed Society?

About the author:

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

  • Seawall teeming with the masses to watch the popular fautasi race during independence and to enjoy the traditional sport with their own eyes.
    Seawall teeming with the masses to watch the popular fautasi race during independence and to enjoy the traditional sport with their own eyes.

Press Freedom Day should not all be about blowing the media’s horn.

Sure the media has a primary role to play to keep the public well informed but the range of coverage is much wider.

An informed society is supposed to be “… one where citizens have the resources, education and skills to access and participate in the free flow of reliable and pertinent information through a diverse range of platforms and media organizations that empower them to make considered decisions about their economic, social and political lives …”

This definition is the foundation to the how, where, when, what and why we must be kept informed as a society.

To make the concept easier to understand and appreciate, the question we should ask is whether Samoa is an informed society? 

Many will say when it comes to ‘fa’alavelave’ we most definitely are.   

With our extended family system, funerals, ‘matai’ bestowals or church dedications are announced far and wide.

When it comes to ‘fa’alavelave’ we have a saying ‘… you can run but you cannot hide.’  It is one of the reasons why there is always an echoing groan or groans when family members are duly informed.

Samoans raised in developed countries outside Samoa know this all too well.  It is why remittance is the richest gold mine streaming wealth to families at home in the island.

The religious are also very well informed. Nothing happens within the church that is not fully revealed from the pulpit.

When the congregation needs a new church or a new car for the ‘faifeau’ the announcement thunders with reverence from the pulpit during the Sunday service.

Recently the call on the congregation to invest in cryptocurrency has been added.

The Central Bank is not too happy about it but it maybe ‘too late the hero’ to stop the flock from throwing their hard earned savings into the OneCoin River.

The good news is that the flock is now better informed. Better late than never. Whether the OneCoin River is at risk of running dry with the Central Bank drumming away at the warning drums that will probably be a matter left to be divined.

Politics! No problem. Keeping the masses aware has never been a problem. The formal media makes sure of that either through print, radio or television coverage.

Lots of lively debates and exchanges on, with or against the media, to keep everyone bubbling on the subject of politics. Nothing new or worth reporting on in that regard.

The real problem is in the birth of the social media. What has emerged so far is either users  are poorly informed or do know what is going on but deliberately misinformed.

The poorly informed suffer from ‘foot in mouth’ disease but they will eventually come around.

The real ‘pain in the butt’ are the ones who deliberately misinformed because they have a chosen political agenda to work to.

 The infamous OLP is currently the group leader. The mystery character has become an inspiration to the ‘discontent and the refused-to–be-informed’, with outrageous, defamatory claims made on prominent people and events.

The allegations are unsubstantiated but it has not stopped the gospel interest in the OLP misinformation!

Who would not want to read the juicy details alleged about the PM and Cabinet Ministers sleeping around?

 Even CEOs having sex affairs make fascinated reading. Basic human nature.

Anything that smears the good name of anyone of note is free territory for OLP.  A boom in small little OLP offsprings makes sure everyone is up with the play.

Unfortunately, this is a serious global headache summed up better by the language of the modern generation….‘too much information.’

But let us not lose sight of our primary concern here. Is Samoa a well-informed society? Yes we are.

We do keep our society fully informed of the good, bad and the ugly. There is no doubt about that.

When you sit back and take all that into account as the bigger picture, it helps to explain why it is not just the job of the media to keep our society informed, but everyone.

OLP included.