Report by Pacific Media Centre

Alistar Kata
OPINION: It’s an indescribable feeling working with local journalists in Samoa, in possibly one of the most exciting times in the country’s history. The buzz of the city was beyond definition leading up to the All Blacks versus Manu Samoa test and the day of the match.

Even on the way there all anyone could talk about on the plane was the game and their predictions of the outcome. The locals were literally breathing rugby and it was awesome to see such passionate characters thrilled over something that is so familiar to us back home.

But the whole experience for me was more than just the game. The highlight of the trip was definitely the people I met.

I was the most fortunate person having met and worked alongside the local media. Their perseverance and diligent work ethic would put some of the journalists in New Zealand to shame.

They care about their work and because their community is so localised, everything matters.

Each newsroom I went to (Samoa Observer, Radio Polynesia, Press Secretariat and TV1 welcomed me with open arms.

Family environment
The main point that stands out for me about the local media is the sort of family environment they create in their newsrooms. Although there is the odd tussle or war of words, there’s no competitiveness or friction there.

Everybody is there for the same purpose and they all help each other out, it’s a sort of “we are all in this together” feel.

It was an atmosphere that was conducive to the work we were producing, and at the end of the day when the end product was completed; you knew that it was a real team effort.

The reporters also work under some constraints in terms of the equipment and technology available to them. Although their industry is not as advanced as the systems in other Pacific countries, they get the job done without complaint or qualm.

It was such an education for me to see and experience with them, working in that way.

While I was at TV1, most of their crew had gone away to Papua New Guinea to report on the 2015 Pacific Games, and because most of their gear was taken, they had to record on tapes.

Slower downloads
Everything was so much slower to download and convert and process, but the team got on with the task and made sure the work was done.  

Working with the locals also gives you certain access to different events and provides the best opportunities to meet so many people.

I was able to rub shoulders with the Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, a few cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, the Manu Samoa team, and journalists and media from around the region.   

I will take away so many lessons from this trip, but the most important lesson would be that I gained a wider understanding of the type of journalist I want to be.

The Pacific region is an area that is at most times misunderstood, at least in the mainstream media in New Zealand.

This experience has nailed home for me the importance of being a reporter that builds understanding, and gives an accurate expression of who these Pacific people are and what matters to them.

 I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had working in Samoa and will definitely make plans to go back.

The Pacific Media Centre's Alistar Kata (in white) with some of the Samoa Observer team. Image: PMC
 

Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.