World Press Freedom Day celebrated in Samoa

Apr 29, 2016

Participants at the media seminar organised by UNESCO, FAO and UNDP. Photo credit: UNDP/F.Mondello/2016

To commemorate World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP, in partnership with the School of Media and Journalism of the National University of Samoa, organized a seminar that brought together Communication Officers from Government Ministries and Media Representatives.  

More than thirty participants attended the event that was held last Thursday at the United Nations Compound, in Matautu-Uta, from 10:00am to 5:00pm. 

 Mr. Alain Godonou, Director of UNESCO, speech at World Press Freedom Day Media Seminar. Photo credit: UNDP/F.Mondello/2016.

The programme, focused on the theme “Freedom of Information and Sustainable Development”, included five informative presentations about different aspects of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development followed in the afternoon by group activities.  

 Hon. Prime Minister delivering his keynote address at the NUS Student Awards on Thursday night. Photo credit: UNDP/F.Mondello/2016.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Alain Godonou, Director of UNESCO, highlighted that: “Public access to information and press freedom is vital to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies where sustainable development can be achieved.” 

When interviewed, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Lizbeth Cullity, said: “The media can contribute to improve people’s lives by explaining and promoting the Sustainable Development Goals. The seminar mainly aimed at providing the journalists and communication practitioners with the tools and the knowledge they need to disseminate information relevant to the Samoan communities.” 

 Katalina Tovia, winner for the TV category. Photo credit: UNDP/F.Mondello/2016.

On the same day, participants attended an evening function where the N.U.S. Media and Journalism Students’ Annual Awards were celebrated. 

At the reception, Hon. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi delivered the keynote address. “The link between press freedom and sustainable development is recognised in the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted late last year.  On the local front, press freedom and sustainable development exist as by-products of Government's commitment to democratic principles of governance and its vision for our national development.” – Tuilaepa said. 

And then the Prime Minister added: “When we talk of press freedom in this country, it's not lip service.  Samoa has the highest ranking of any Pacific nation on the 2016 Press Freedom Index and out of 180 countries, we are ranked 29th in the world.  Even the beacon of freedom that is the United States ranks lower than Samoa for press freedom.  This is something to be proud of for a small developing nation in the middle of the Pacific ocean.”  

 Francis Vaigalepa (first left) and his family. Photo credit: UNDP/F.Mondello/2016.

The Students’ Annual Awards, administered by the N.U.S. Media and Journalism Programme, are assessed and judged based on outstanding students who have exceptionally contributed to information gathering and dissemination online through its Facebook Page as part of their technical and vocational training.

The three winners were: Nefertiti Matatia (print and online category), Francis Vaigalepa (radio) and Katalina Tovia (TV). 

 Nefertiti Matavia (first right) and friends. Photo credit: UNDP/F.Mondello/2016.

A media statement of commitment to promote and publicise the Sustainable Development Goals, crafted by the seminar’s participants and a Media and Advocacy Awards on SDGs were also launched at the evening reception.

 Group photo. Photo credit: UNDP/F.Mondello/2016.

The event, held at the NUS Fale, ended around 8:30pm.

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