Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Samoa suicide story shameful – PFF

Samoa suicide story shameful – PFF

Management at the Samoa Observer need to take a good long look at themselves, says the Pacific Freedom Forum, condemning a front page story on the suicide of a transgender woman.

“Publishing an uncensored photo of the dead woman breaches common decency, not just ethics,” says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.

“That photo will have been seen on the front page by many children, and caused deep distress to her already traumatised friends and family.”

Gabi says publication of the photo and the tone of the story shows a “shameful” failure of standards at the daily newspaper.

“The editorial chain of command means responsibility lies firmly with management, not the reporter ordered to do the story.

“PFF has previously criticised ethical failures within Pacific news media, including Samoa Observer, and agree with critics the latest breach again shows a need for proper journalism development,” says Gabi.

“Ethical standards start at the top.”

Published in the Sunday edition, the story caused a wave of revulsion across Samoa, with dozens of critical comments left on the paper’s Facebook page.

Jeanine Tuivaiki, 20, was a computer student.

The paper was attacked for referring to Ms. Tuivaiki as male. Transgender or “fa’afafine” women have long been an accepted part of Samoan culture.

Criticism also came from overseas, including Fiji and Australia, with news media in New Zealand reporting the dismayed reaction.

PFF Co-Chair Monica Miller says the story and the photo further damages already shaky press freedoms, and strengthen government arguments for state control.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

“What could have been an opportunity to raise valuable debate around the awful blight of suicide in our islands has been lost.

“This represents another failure by management of Samoa Observer to adhere to accepted ethical standards.”

“Readers are quite rightly angry and shocked at such callous treatment,” says Miller.

Hundreds of comments were left across social networks, with the story garnering some 20,000 views.

The country’s transgender NGO, Samoa Fa’afafine Association Incorporated, has called for action against the newspaper, including complaints to the media council, ombudsman, and international human rights authorities.

Gay rights activists from New Zealand also condemned the paper’s coverage.

An apology was issued to the New Zealand Herald on Sunday afternoon by Samoa Observer Editor-in-Chief Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa.

In the apology, Savea drew attention to the suicide taking place in a church hall, pointing to ‘symbolic meaning’ towards religious division, violence and “painful disunity.”

Savea said the apology would be published in full in today’s Monday edition.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.