Amidst the fast changing and challenging role of New Media today in the United States, local state media organizations are still successful through the delivery of information content via traditional media.
When we say new media, we often refer to it as using the internet through websites and social media (Facebook, Twitter and many others) not specifically including online applications (such as Whatsapp, Viber, Instagram) whereas the traditional media is newspaper, radio and television.
There has been a lot of research on advantages and disadvantages on this transformation of what the best practices should be for the media to get those messages out to the society. You don't have to succumb to the idea that one is the best than the other, it is how you will use these platforms to reach out to the public and get them engaged.
It's a global issue and each unique community is facing challenges and far worse risks than the other.
Not only is the media is facing such critical times on how to let the traditional media survive in a competitive market but how you measure the impact of your messages and work in the community. How much do people know about your mission statement and goals?
In my view, the Samoan media industry is gradually embracing the role of new media in terms of ensuring these platforms are being utilized. I tell you if only the figures of what is presented online could transform into a physical business figure, the thought of setting up a media business in Samoa is a choice - you'd be rich.
This is not the latest statistics on Samoa but according to the Internet World Stats (November 2015), with a population of over 190,000, about 50,000 of them are internet users or Facebook users. Now that in my view is not representative as Facebook users are not the same as being an internet user so i would not take that as a genuine figure. However, by following each media page of individual media organizations, you would find that the most popular one, of course is the sole monopoly, Samoa Observer with 37,634 followers on Facebook alone and that number could increase. The second largest is TV1 with 8,537 followers and it's understandable that TV1 has the most coverage in Samoa. Then we have other media outlets with thousands of followers, which of course, is a large and fair amount of people following the news, as this is where the crafting of the best stories as journalists come in. Surprisingly the N.U.S. Media and Journalism School Page has 949 followers, not the last and not the highest, but there is another facet of Facebook analytics to not necessarily having the highest number of followers, but the insights say, you have more people engaged or have seen your page or a certain story than your followers.
Whereas in the traditional print media, you would perhaps measure the impact of your outreach production by the number of newspapers you sell a day or a week.
But it's not always how the impact of your work is measured according to the media and journalism literature. It is how changes and informed decisions are being made. How those figures as i've listed before could help governments, non governments and civil based societies get those messages out there is something that local state media organizations in the U.S. have been successful.
Most parts of this column have been published on my page this week and thought should be shared with the wider audience in this regard.
Of course we cannot make wonders with all the lessons you had learned from any outside system that isn't your normal practice but I must commend efforts by the American authorities to allow a robust environment for its media, on the national and international arena.
I met Ms. Susan Stevenson who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary with the Bureau of Public Affairs whose job is to ensure that there is a press officer on government trips. I'd say this again, we cannot blame the media for doing what it is doing and for being ethical and professional by all means in how they do it. However, there is a huge communication gap between the government, non government and civil based society organizations in terms of advocacy and outreach programs that those in the rural and even urban areas still do not have access to credible information. I will not again dig into literacy and numeracy issues as though they are linked but that is again another story for another day.
In Samoa, the Government Press Secretariat according to its website, is primarily tasked with providing media-related advice and assistance to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as well as providing information to the Public and the Media about Government initiatives and the latest news from Cabinet. In fact, the Prime Minister's door is always open to the media.
In his address during this year's World Press Freedom Day (where we co-hosted with UNESCO and three other UN Agencies) called on every CEO to talk and respond to media requests. On top of that, he has had experience whereby CEOs are asked to prepare media briefs rather they give him essays.
And that's where we need to improve on. In addition, when hiring media officers, we need to hire someone who has some background in media, experience and knows the job not mickey mouse or anyone you just happen to know and needs a job. I would like to see at least one journalist to travel and report on those international meetings often and should be funded by the requesting organization (whether officially requested or not, it's a commitment that should be made). It can be done. Everyone wants to be a reporter these days.
I am always appreciative of the fact that the National University of Samoa has a Vice Chancellor (leader and C.E.O.) who is more open minded and supportive of the media. As the largest institution in the country with a population of 3,500 students and close to 400 staff members, the need for someone with media background is a must. There are numerous programmes, courses, new developments and daily activities within the university that we would like our stakeholders (local and international) to be aware of. It is also about delegating the work that you do and trust your staff to communicate with the public. Go to where the people are.
Two of the most notable elements in state local media organisations within the U.S is its strength on Investigative Journalism and are run through non-profitable models to survive.
In that way there is more emphasis on public service through journalism.
Forget the business side of media as am not an expert and I don't own one (though its news content is the face of a media organisation and could rake in more money).
Media organisations we visited in Seattle, Washington and Minneapolis, Minnesota have been successful in getting the public engaged via traditional and new media.
Access to public information (and I mean, what you pay taxes for) bridges the work of media and government in the U.S.
Nothing is hidden except some still have the appetite to not disclose it. And that's exactly where journalists would start digging. Get that word out to the public.
At King 5 Television in Seattle (considered one of the strongest broadcast media company and most trusted brands in the Pacific Northwest), Ms Susannah Frame is the Chief Investigative Reporter who has reported on numerous cases of government waste, real estate fraud, homeland security breaches and have led to many changes in public policy, criminal investigations and created new laws.
There's the impact of what we do as media. We have those huge number of followers as alluded to earlier. Utilise all platforms best suited to your audience. It sounds time consuming and of course the question of human resource but if we really need that complete information cycle and more people to engage, it has to be this way.
There is a freer and stable relationship between the state and media in the U.S. And so as Samoa.
Thank you Seattle (Washington) and Minneapolis (Minnesota) for the wonderful experience. Who gets to see two separate states in eight days. We started from Washington D.C. to Seattle, Washington to a split group assignment in Minneapolis Minnesota. The other three groups are in Austin (Texas), Cleveland (Ohio) and Denver (Colorado). The four groups will meet in New York this week to conclude their project. It is said this is the media capital of the U.S.
Hello New York.