Why the Samoa Observer frontpage is an ethical violation


My news-feed was burning with extremely irritated readers of the Samoa Observer today. Emotions ranged from anger, sympathy, dismay and disgust. Those who expressed their views included lawyers, doctors, atheists, Christians, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, friends, family and many many many more of differing backgrounds and cultures who all saw the front page and expressed their negative feelings.

What was the front page? The picture is as follows, accompanied by a headline that stated “Suicide in a Church Hall”. Here are the reasons this story, photo and headline combo are extremely unethical and essential is a case of human rights violation for the victim and family.

13435293_10153783146087098_7722585940198015110_nWhat is most unfortunate about this story is that the Editor of Samoa Observer wrote an editorial yesterday demanding the nation to have sympathy for Samoa Observers battles some twenty years ago – yet today victimizes a human being right on the front page. Hypocrisy is a very very ugly trait.

Here’s some ethical violations by Samoa Observer in publishing that story – and statements by members of the public who agree with it.

A journalist’s first and foremost obligation is to the truth as every journalist, no matter how famous or unknown wields a
great amount of power and influence in 10626797_810413775727106_4992917387696069224_nshaping public opinion.

  • Journalism exists to serve the interests of the people and to provide them with accurate, reliable information required to function in a society. This story did not serve the interest of people. No information in here was verified by authorities – it is heresay based on what a “friend” said and on a photo found on Facebook. There is no proof that she committed suicide – it is pure allegations – there was no statement from Authorities to confirm the cause of death, name of victim or even time and location of incident.
  • Journalisms primary purpose and objective can be expressed most appropriately through the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) mission statement: ‘inform, educate and entertain’. Some would add “influence” as part of the main objectives. It is very clear that this story does not achieve any of these objectives – as this is not informative, educational, “entertaining” but I will say this, it does “influence.
  • Publishing details of suicide is a huge breech of journalism ethics the world over – BBC, CNN, AP, AFP, WSJ – all publications I have contributed to will NEVER EVER publish details let alone a picture of a suicide. Because there is a social responsibility and ethical violation tied to detailing suicide – it triggers what is well known in the industry as “copycat suicide” – meaning if someone has suicidal tendencies and sees this picture, it will prompt them to commit suicide. It also introduces the concept to young readers, vulnerable populations and so forth. Essentially it is “influencing” people to seeing suicide as an option. Yeah – good going Samoa Observer – very very wise of you to do this.
  • Respect for the victim. There are two schools of journalism that are quite distinct in nature. 1. Broadsheet (real journalism that abides by ethics etc.) and Tabloid – which takes a very brutal approach to stories without regard for ethics. This type of story belongs on a tabloid as it disregards the rights of the victim, families and friends. It does not respect the societal value placed on the victim.
  • Fa’asamoa. The practice of journalism is circumstantial – so in countries which have certain cultural norms – these are observed on the pages of its national daily. For Samoa – o le ava fatafata ma le tofa, are just some which in this case should have been observed. The victim is no doubt borne of Chiefs and cultural figures who deserve all due respect within the realms of the Fa’aSamoa. By publishing this picture – the newspaper disregards these fundamental values that are unique to Samoa.
  • Gender referencing: GG on FB was correct to point out that the victim was identified as a man and second referenced as a man. How very said that in death this poor soul is not given her desired identity.
  • Finally – where the hell is common decency? This is a human being in a small society. We should know better.

Statements by Samoans on Facebook on this.

Samoa Observer- you stupid, insensitive assholes. You showed that you don’t care about LGBTQ as the photo you published on the front page and the pronoun you used for her just reinforces the abuse, insensitively and hate our brothers and sisters who identify as LGBT go through. Poor Jeanine deserves respect and decency, even her death you mistreat her with this “other-ing” piece. You are merchants of hate, no matter what your self absorbed freedom of the press cliches are. – GG

Was it necessary to put that picture of Jaenine Tuivaki on the front page of the paper hanging from the rafters of a Church Hall. Yes she is a transgender person, but where is the respect for the dead….she is a Suli of Samoa, Suli of Aiga, Suli of a mum and a dad….I am disgusted at the lack of Respect for this human being. Would this be done to a person who was not a faafafine? Jaenine was someones child, someones sibling, someones love. Journalism without any respect is what this is. – MM

Judging for what is on their front page today, this newspaper is only after money at all cost. It makes no sense to me to have a picture of a dead person strung up. This person has friends & relatives who love him very much. Even if he is dead he still should be respected
That picture suggests murder NOT suicide – PP

Just utterly disgraceful, inexcusable, totally unprofessional, and gives ammunition to those who want greater controls on the media for other purposes, to shut down political criticism or investigations into corruption. Media ethics classes will study this outrage for years to come as it’s an awful example of how to absolutely NOT report these kinds of stories. – Mark Hayes, Journlism Professor and Expert

Really?!? Is this what it’s come down to?!? Instead of rushing to get her down, they take a photo of her? And reaaaally Observer? Where is the dignity respect and love that Jeanine so desperately needed in life that she also deserved in death?! Where can one write complaints about this? Can they be sued? Tasteless and disgusting – FT

Whatever speck of respect I once had for Samoa Observer is now all but lost! Insensitive & disrespctful are understatements. This family should take legal action against SO! – AS

To reverse the negativity in the departure of this beautiful soul, let’s hashtag #beautifuljeanine


Photos: FB, PP, GG.


8 thoughts on “Why the Samoa Observer frontpage is an ethical violation

  1. McCayladhedadig

    How could do this to a poor sister,my other half,,how rude and shame on you 😢😢 how can u post this on media..I can’t handle the,,u should show her beautiful instead of using a suicide photo on the front cover page,,what’s wrong with u people,she is a innocent soul and she didn’t do that I know didn’t, I believed some whose behind this isidious crime..

    You have shown the way of disgust to all youngster’s that they will follow,u have shown to others that this is the only to guite your life easy when you having problems.. I almost guite my life because I heard the ungrateful thing that happened to poor sister of mine,,Yes she is my sister,,different ways but God bring us together as one sisters. You don’t no nothing about how she wanted to be in thefuture,,she didn’t do that,some did that and he will be revealed soon….

    I don’t believed u did something ungraceful,disgusted,shameful,rudeness and a violence against her poor soul

    I Jeanine Tuivaiki,I will not die in Vein.. But i will sue u for violence against my poor loving sisterssuicide

  2. Oloi N. Paul

    Savea & Muliagatele ! You both should be utterly ashamed of yourselves for allowing this Front Page photo on The Sunday Samoan Observer. How insensitive of your paper to display such graphic an image. Where is your human compassion and moral and ethical standards? The very least The Public demand of you is an apology and substantial compensation to the victims Family of your gross negligence in media coverage and down right disrespect for the deceased, no matter the circumstances. May You rest in Love and Peace Jennien.
    On behalf of the People of Samoa may I take Liberty in saying: “WE LOVE YOU UNCONDITIONALLY”. RIP

  3. Clara-Jane

    Really the Samoan Observer would publish this kind of news? Here I am going on about the Christians and Preachers who are saying things about the Orlando shooting being a good thing etc….. Samoa Observer you are just as racist and as stupid as they are. This is someone’s child, who’s has a father, a mother, siblings and I’m sure a loving family. Who are you to be righteous and publicly publish such a demeaning sorry. I hope they go as far as closing your company down, to the reporter who reported this, God Bless you because this just backfired in your face. To the Editor and Managers who allowed it to be published. I hope the families of the victims sue you and you get the public humiliation you all so deserve. To the young lady that passed, God Bless your beautiful soul, may you rest in Eternal Peace and love, free from pain. Prayers going out to your family, especially your Mother, Father and siblings 😔🙏❤️💙🇼🇸🇺🇸🇦🇸

  4. Jillow male vaega

    This is absolutely absurd and disgusting!!! Whoever published this photo of this poor girl is an absolute DUMP MORON!!!!! They should be punished severely!!! The family should take this person or persons to court and they should be locked up and throw away the key or they should be put in a cage with lions! This really shows how CORRUPTED Samoa is they would approve anything to be published for money and to benefit themselves and not think of who is affected.

  5. E matua matautia lenei faasalalauga ua fai e le Samoa Observer. O lea se mafuaaga ua mafua ai ona faia lea ituaiga tulaga o le faasalalau mai o se ata o se tasi o lenei aiga i luma o le front page. O se aga lea a se nusipepa ua loa lana tautua is Samoa ma ona tagata.? O ni uiga ia o se tagata ua matai i se tasi o suafa maualuga i totonu o lona itumalo..tulou le itumalo..o lona aiga..ma Samoa? Ua galo le ava fatafata, le alofa, o i oi mata o fanau o aiga nuu Ekalesia ma le Atunuu..tulou Samoa. O le a le uiga ua mafua ai ona le ofi ni atu ni mafaufauga lelei i le galuega taua o loo fai? O le mafuaaga ea poo ua ulufia mafaufauga lelei e le Tiapolo o lenei lalolagi? Tupe ma oloa? Sa iai le manatu o loo ina le faautaga mamao ma le tofa faatalaiga i lau susuga i le alii pule ma le aufaigaluga. Ua le aoga ona ua taunoa le tofa faatalaiga ona o le faamaualuga ma le manatu faapito. Aemaise le Atua ma lona finagalo o loo taulagi e Samoa o loo faavae ai. O uiga nei e matua le talia ma tali gata e se tagata soifua. Ona oo ifo lea i le loto fesili faapea. A o fea le pulega a le Samoa Observer? Aua e le mafai ona alu loa le lomiga ae le i pasia e le alii pule ma le pulega. Oute matua talitonu le manatu e le o faavae fo’i ia o tulaga tau faasalalauga i tau i nusipepa. E le mafai ona lomia nei ituaiga faasalalauga. Aemaise o ni ata leaga, ata o tamaiti poo tagata matutua o loo faaalia ai ni tulaga mataga ma le tusa ai male finagalo Paia o le Atua. Ma e le o mautinoa foi pe na pule o ia i lona ola. O loo faagasolo suesuega a alii leoleo. A o lenei ua nofo le alii pule ma tuu i luga o lana nusipepa. O ni uiga ia o se tagata faapaupau ma le le alu ise lotu. E leai sesi faaupuga e faaupu ai ia ituaiga uiga ma amioga ua faia e le alii pule ma le aufaigaluega..ua na o ni tagata ua noa mase alofa ma ni mafaufauga lelei ua na o le tiapolo ma sakagi o loo ola ai i totonu o lenei nusipepa. Sa tatau na faaigoaina lenei nusipepa” Satan’s Observer”. Ae aveese le igoa pele o Samoa. Aua na o le kiapolo e faia ni uiga mataga faapea. E leai lava sesi ua na o Sakagi lava. Ua le aoga ni tou galuega sa fai mo Samoa. E ta’u mai ai i le atunuu lou manatu faatauvaa i isi tagata ma o latou lagona. Faamata ana o sou alo poo lou toalua poo lou tua’a? Faamata e te laulau mai i luma o lau nusipepa? Atonu o lau tali iai e leai. Leaga o lou alo tama. Poo lou alo teine. Poo lou toalua. Ae poo lou tina poo lou tama se i tulou Samoa. E matua tiga le tou tusitusi ma le faasalalauga ua fai i lenei aiga. E talitonu le manatu e le i aoaoina le pulega male alii pule a le Satan’s Obsever i le tulaga lea fo i na mu ai le latou nusipepa i Vaitele. Tau ina ia faamaise mai le Atua i lenei aiga faanoanoa. Ma faamagalo le susuga i le alii pule ma le aufaigaluega. Ia aoga mea e tutupu e aoaina ai mafaufau ma ni amioga i le lumanai. Aua ua faavae Samoa i le Atua…


    (Camera Operator & Film Maker (NZ)

    • Malie Boron

      Faafetai lava i lenei mataupu ua fa’atalatalanoaina. O a’u lava lenei ou te nofo atu iinei, ae o lo’o pogisa lo’u mafaufau i le mea ua vavao ai Samoa. Ae fa’afetai i le alofa o le Atua o lea ua ou maua atu le ‘au o le paipa. Ou te talitonu o se mataupu faigata lenei mataupu. Talofa isi nei aiga, e le’o faigofie ia’i latou lagona mafatia o lo’o lagonaina i lenei taimi. Faafetai P.M. mo lau folasaga i lenei mataupu. Ae, ou te talitonu ua fai lenei mea ma a’oa’iga i le Alii Pule ma le aufaigaluega o le Observer oi o le Satan’s Observer. E fai si tuga o lenei mataupu, ae ou te talitonu ua tau ifo i manatu ma mafaufau o lenei fale niusipepa le le nofonofo lelei o le atunu’u i lenei mataupu. E tutusa uma lava tagata i le alofa o le Atua. Manatua o le isi lena o a tatou galuega i lenei lalolagi na tu’uina mai ai i tatou e tatou te faia. Ia alofa le tasi i le tasi ma fesoasoani atu i e o lo’o fia maua se fesoasoani. O nisi tagata e faigata ia’i latou ona tautala mai i o latou faafitauli o lo’o fa’afeagai mai latou, ae o le tatou galuega o le fa’amama avega i nei avega o lo’o latou tauaveina, ae le’o le atili ai ona faamamafa. Fa’amaise atu le Atua i si Aiga, aua lava ne’i galo ia outou, o lo’o soifua le Atua, ma e fa’amafafana atu lava le Atua i a outou mafatiaga.

  6. Aukuso

    The newspaper has shown signs of desperation for money over moral values
    Ibest way to get our message through is boycott from buying observer for a week
    Let’s start today

  7. Ray

    Samoa Observer is nothing more than a tabloid newspaper. All they do is slander and drag peoples name in the mud. Poor Janines family are not only heartbroken by the loss but then have to put up with your unprofessional, unethical and poor excuse for an apology. I am so disgusted. You have done Samoa a great disservice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s