by Alan Ah Mu
APIA: MONDAY 8 JULY 2013: The Journalists Association of (Western) Samoa didn’t receive a letter sent out by the Attorney General saying he had been instructed to draft legislation to set up a media council.
JAWS represents the majority of media outlets in the country.
Today JAWS’s executive met to discuss Attorney General Aumua Leung Wai’s correspondence and decided to send him a letter to clarify matters.
Because Aumua’s “NOTICE TO LOCAL MEDIA” dated 4 July was also sent to only six media which JAWS is concerned about.
JAWS initiated the establishment of a media council 10 years ago.
It engaged the services of Ian Beals, a consultant with the Thomson Foundation in England, to draft Samoa’s media code of practice.
The Thomson Foundation is the world’s longest established international media development organisation, with a 50-year history of training journalists in ethical standards and quality reporting.
Since then JAWS has held three consultation meetings with Samoa Law Commission (SLC) to identify the media’s position on a regulated media council.
On that there were three choices: Government regulated, self-regulated or government/media regulated.
Media opted for a self-regulated council and submissions by JAWS and individuals were presented to SLC on this.
SLC presented the final draft to Government and JAWS.
The draft submitted recommendations which included a two year time frame for JAWS to establish a media council or Government would do so.
“It has now been over a year and still no movement to establish a media council.” said Aumua in his correspondence.
But JAWS President Uale Papali’i Taimalelagi said, “One year is up and we still have another year to go.”
JAWS believe they are still within the timeframe of the time given.
As for the media council issue, it has been one of the most discussed issues every time JAWS Executive meets.