OPINION: Control, the media and the 2016 US Presidential race

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(WAIPAHU--FEBRUARY 1, 2016)--Talofa lava my Samoa and my America. Greetings from Hawai'i. Voting begins today in the 2016 U.S. Presidential race and I believe it's the perfect time to discuss the American mainstream media and "control."

Control and the media were discussed in an Associated Press article dated Jan. 28 after Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump said he'd refrain from participating in a GOP debate hosted by Fox News Channel. He blasted them for "playing games" and including anchor Megyn Kelly as a debate moderator.

Kelly said Trump is used to getting his way but can't control the media, the AP reported.

In the interest of fairness, I'd like for all of us to take a look at this word used by Kelly: "control."

By the same token, Kelly and Fox News should understand that they can't "control" Trump. In fact, when it comes down to "control," the individuals who really are in control are the ones holding the remote control in their hands, the people, the voters, the viewers, the listeners. People can choose to turn the TV off or keep it on. People can choose to listen to Fox News or not. I'm a former employee of a left wing newsroom (the Samoa News newsroom) in American Samoa. My first newsroom trainer was Methodist by faith and a strong Democrat. She never liked Fox News and discouraged me from following their work.

Several years ago our current President Barack Obama delivered the Gettysburg Address and omitted "God" from the speech (as written in the original text) and the right wing blasted him. I shared an article from The Blaze via Facebook that punished him for doing so. Those who dislike the President approved of the link but a Democrat on my Friends List blasted me for it. In fact, he was so upset, he unfriended me. It was sad because I really liked him, at least the
person I know him to be on Facebook. In a consequent email conversation with this man I told him I'd do better in order to lead readers, the people to good
news sources, sources that present the people with "balanced" news.

I'm a try anything, go anywhere, read everything and then think what best to give the people kind of journalist. I have erred, it's part of the job, it is how
we, as reporters, get better. I've learned that it's always best to stay on the side of the people, in the middle. With free online training from the Samoa
Observer, an award-winning newspaper based in Apia, Samoa, I've made improvements. The lessons I've learned are beneficial for all news agencies.

This is a colossal year for America. As an independent Samoan-American journalist who has been studying the mainstream American media for five years, I have to say, our country will do much better when the interests of the people precede the political and business aspects of reporting. We can't say we're right wing and then go and look for stories to support our side. We can't sit on the left either and then push our agendas down the throats of the American people. In order for our democracy to work for us, we, as journalists, must place selfish concerns to the side and ask the people what it is they want. News has to go back to being a service FIRST, not a political or business platform. Not infotainment either. In the words of a Samoan social worker who works for the State of Hawai'i Department of Health and Human Services "everything is infotainment these days, even the news."