A certain anonymous writer and his followers have been screaming that Samoa Planet is government owned and funded, and that our souls belong to the Prime Minister. The attacker claims Samoa Planet only publishes government propaganda and we get paid loads of corrupt money to do so.

He also has an obsession with our alleged evil sex activities, and calls us the ‘most dangerous and manipulative women in society’. This makes us sound far more exciting than we really are, but okay. I might even get that put on a T.Shirt.

Clearly, this attacker is unhappy with Samoa Planet and our work.

Now there’s several ways to try and discredit a newspaper or media site.

One method is to say the writing is terrible and not worth reading. The attacker couldn’t use this method, however, because the owners of Samoa Planet have won multiple international awards for their writing. They have been published worldwide, and have secured numerous contracts to write strategic plans for both the private and public sector – all on the strength of their writing techniques. One of us is the author of 9 books and recently named 2018 Pacific Writer Laureate by the Africa Caribbean Pacific Group Secretariat (ACP).

I suppose another tactic is to say a news team is uneducated and uninformed about Samoa and the world. The attacker couldn’t use this either.

The Samoa Planet team has several university degrees amongst them. They grew up in Samoa, and have travelled extensively for schooling and work. They have lived and participated in their villages, churches and  lived in multiple overseas locations. Our Editor previously worked for 9 years as a legal researcher and political analyst. Our reporters came to us with excellent academic records, entrepreneurial skills and the bonus of knowing how to manage a home, parent several children and work a career.

One of us is an active matai in her village, an Accredited Mediator and Accountant, the first woman to chair the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and a leadership development expert who is frequently consulted by local and regional bodies.

So that leaves targeting the objectivity of a news company. Questioning their REAL agenda and priorities. In our case, the attacker is claiming that we are paid mouthpieces for the government, we are rich from government bribes, and so therefore, trust nothing Samoa Planet writes.

We’ve kept silent for a month now as the attacks have raged on, and today I’m ready to give you the truth behind Samoa Planet.

Samoa Planet was founded by two women – myself and Tuiloma Lemalu Sina Retzlaff. It’s something we do “on the side” as we each have our own careers in other fields. I’m an author and also Office Manager for my husband’s construction company Young Steel. Tuiloma owns Pacific Global Solutions, a consultancy firm specialising in strategic planning, professional development and facilitative mediations.

Samoa Planet is a partnership business registered with the Ministry for Revenue.

It started 17 months ago with just me and Tuiloma doing everything. For the first 6 months, we were #TeamNoSleep. It’s been a hard slog and steep learning curve. The growth has been phenomenal though. Samoa Planet had over 100,000 visitors last month, from all over the world. In just the past 12 months of operations, our writing has won us two international awards. We consistently get praise for our team’s thorough and accurate reporting. Our coverage of NZ Prime Minister Ardern’s recent visit was lauded and quoted by regional media experts and analysts. We may be new to this, but we’re fast learners and building a worthy reputation.

Samoa Planet now has 4 employees. One Editor, one IT specialist, and two reporters, one of whom is currently away on maternity leave. We also feature articles from some great contributors and Opinion Columnists.

As a startup, Samoa Planet still isn’t earning enough to pay for it’s own upkeep. Neither of us co-founders are on the payroll. When business revenue isn’t enough, we keep Samoa Planet alive using injections from our own pockets, (and in my case, my long-suffering husband’s pocket.)  Anyone who has ever started a new business will know that the struggle is real!

Huge appreciation to those awesome companies who have come on board to advertise with Samoa Planet and take their products and services to our audience of a few hundred thousand. We are excited to be partners with you and hope to welcome many more businesses.

We get no funding from government. Samoa Planet doesn’t even have a single advertising slot from ANY of the government ministries or state owned enterprises. We wish we DID get their ads and  notices, because that would help to ensure our survival! (#HintHint to any CEOs out there who are fans of our work…no seriously! lol)

So if we get nothing from it, why then are we doing Samoa Planet? The truth is that yes, we do have an agenda. Several of them in fact.

The first is to prioritise women. Samoan and Pacific Islander women specifically. Their voices, their work, their stories, and the programs they are involved in. A friend recently gave me critical feedback on Samoa Planet. She liked the quality of our reporting, but “you have so many articles about women! It’s obvious you’re biased.” I took that as a compliment. (I also asked her if she complained to other media that they “have too many articles about men! It’s obvious you’re biased!”)

Male dominance in global media is well documented. Both in newsrooms and in news articles, men are leaders—they make more money, get more bylines, spend more time on-camera, and are quoted far more often than women—by a ratio of about 3:1. As the only media in Samoa owned and managed entirely by women, Samoa Planet tries to do our part to rectify that imbalance. While we report on all topics, we prioritise issues relating to gender equality and to women in development. We’re particularly interested in women in business, women as climate change warriors, women in leadership, and women in sport.

That ties in closely with our focus on development issues in Samoa and the region. We believe that many people are working very hard across different spheres to develop our country and make it better. We try to give them a platform for their work and their different perspectives.

But that’s not our only dangerous devious agenda. We’re also overly committed to reporting on family violence in Samoa, and the work being done to address it. Tuiloma and I bring to Samoa Planet, our own experiences and advocacy work against domestic violence and sexual abuse. It’s why our team will spend 3 straight days listening, learning and reporting on the Family Violence Inquiry or covering ways that religion and Samoa’s churches can help. It’s why we cover so many sexual assault and abuse cases in court, why we write about things like How to Get a Protection Order in Samoa. Our resources are limited and so when it comes to investigative work, for example, we tend to pass on an alleged financial scandal at a particular government ministry, because we are pursuing an in-depth series about the Samoa sex offender’s register.

There’s more though. We prioritise covering LGBTI issues and amplify the voices of Faafafine and Faafatama. We’re the only media in Samoa that has a section devoted to LGBTI issues, Rainbow Planet,  and our ongoing series featuring Faafafine/Faatama/lesbian /gay/ bisexual/trans/intersex Samoan and Pasifika artists/leaders and their awesome work worldwide is one of my personal favorite priorities.

So yes, I am forced to admit that while we do aim to be objective, Samoa Planet does have its non-neutral agenda. But we don’t try to hide it. And much respect to our nation’s leader, but our agenda has nothing to do with the Prime Minister.

Which leads me to ask, why is this anonymous writer attacking us? Does he feel threatened by us? What is it about Samoa Planet and our agenda that frightens him so much?

When much of the malicious commentary is calling us ‘bitches/whores/sluts’, immoral /promiscuous’ and manipulative women, I have to ask if the attack is simply because we are two Samoan women who write and speak publicly? Is this another form of gender violence?

Or is it something else?

Every day, I read another message from this person’s followers calling us liars/thieves/ frauds, demanding we be beaten, burned, drowned and imprisoned – just because they have read his repeated attacks on us.

I’m supposed to say that it doesn’t bother me. That none of it matters. But that would be a lie.

The truth is, I’m afraid and overwhelmed by the depths of their hate and venom. I worry for my children, especially those living overseas, that they will encounter some of these people somewhere, and be harassed and abused because of me. I have trouble sleeping. I pray often for their safety. I’ve thought about quitting Samoa Planet, but thankfully, my husband has talked me through my defeated moments and lent me some of his resolve and strength.

I look back over the hard work and struggle of the last year to get Samoa Planet to where it is today. All the time taken away from our children so we could do this work, the days we’ve been discouraged to the point of almost giving up but we forged on. We think of the impact our reporting has had on so many, the small sparks of change we have lit… It is incredibly offensive and hurtful that anyone would try to take away from that by claiming the Prime Minister and government bribes had anything to do with it.

No.

We did it. With the Lord’s blessings of Godly wisdom, strength and talent – we did it all. Me, Tuiloma, our awesome little team, our mentors and advisors, our cheer crew of close family and dear friends.

Today, I am proud of the work Samoa Planet does, the quality of our reporting, and the vision that drives us. I am proud to put my name to this work and say, yes this is me. This is us. This is who we are.

My challenge to our attackers is – can you say the same?

Lani Wendt Young

Lani Wendt Young

Award-winning writer, blogger and columnist. Author of 9 books including the international bestsellingTELESA Series and the SCARLET LIES Series. Living in Samoa with her Ironman husband and 5 children.

Lani Wendt Young

40 COMMENTS

  1. Good on you Lani, Tuiloma and team Samoa Planet. Keep up the great work you do. Let the haters and jealous people rave on because that’s all they can do.

  2. where is the “love” button? good on you Samoa Planet. Sick of all those who cannot deal with others’ successes.

  3. I love your work (author Telesa series etc.) as well as Samoa Planet. Please carry on for those of us that enjoy being informed of events mentioned in your articles. I despise cyber bullying and the ignorant readers that are persuaded easily through it. Will be praying for better days for Samoa and its people to unite instead of fighting and bringing each other down.

  4. Keep up the great work. We need you.
    There will always be haters. The enemy gets mad at at progress and will do anything to keep u from your destiny.

  5. People who hate and are cowards are the same in any setting.They tend to spread spitefulness without revealing their identities.They accuse without any effort to adhere to real facts.(The Lord’s trial by pharisees at Easter comes to mind).And it’s all based on pure jealousy that what these women at Samoa Planet have achieved, these anonymous accusers will never achieve in and within their miserable lives.Samoa Planet you must be doing agood thing to have attracted this type of venom.

  6. Please continue to do what you are doing and don’t give up. Note you do make a difference in the world unlike the anonymous blogger who I feel causes more hate then good. I believe in you and your work I hope that counts? but there is always evil out there testing us to see how we’d react to its rampage but we must stay faithful to the good Lord that he will help us prevail. Rock on ladies?

  7. Keep on doing what you are doing.. you guys are doing great. The faceless ghost writers have nothing on you.
    The level of reporting you represent and the well written pieces is a pleasure to read. Only fools and uneducated people fall easily and support vindictive and foul- distasteful writing. We can disagree or agree to disagree.. yes we can be harsh in speaking the truth (providing facts of course) but to use such inappropriate language to express your opinions and let alone allow and encourage the same from your readers.. I think that is beyond low. That is why.. Samoa Planet…you should never allow uneducated, manipulative, self righteous fools bother you.. Keep the faith and let God do the rest..
    All the best and God bless!!

  8. The right to have an opinion and to publicly disagree are vital to a functioning healthy democracy. Thanks for publishing my opinions about the Land Titles Registration Act 2008.

  9. Well say it Lani, don’t give up and take it to the next level, you’ve done a marvelous job. Malo lava team Samoa Planet.

  10. You and your team done a great job especially promoting and empowering women in any area. Not that I know from other media outlets. Hats off Lani, there’s so many work done by our Samoan women that needs to tell,needs to share and needs to recognize by our society. One thing I do like Samoa planet is coverage of Women in Sport. Keep up the good work

  11. Well stated. Good job and thanks also for being the ONLY media in Samoa that not only prioritises LGBTI+ issues and has an LGBTI+ section but the only one that does not provide a platform for homophobia and transphobia like certain media who I will not bother naming.
    Oh and on CONGRATULATIONS on being named 2018 Pacific Write Laureate by the Africa Caribbean Pacific Group Secretariat. Awesome.
    Malo lava and Faafetai lava

  12. Let the haters be haters. It is the only thing they can only be. God has gifted you and He will continue to see you through. We enjoy reading the works of Samoa Planet and will continue to enjoy reading it. Keep the faith, continue to fight and stay strong. They will soon give up (fingers crossed.) You are doing an amazing job! Malo lava le onosai.

  13. Don’t get discouraged. I am probably part of the group whose members are more liberal in their forms of expression than called for at times. But I believe the frustrations is the result of lack of trust with all outlets responsible for informing community of matters they deem important. For example, a murder is left unsolved of a Member of Parliament no less, committed during a party of his own political party and your outlet like others fail to follow through and report status of investigation to community. A recent report by the United Nations has placed a company registered in Samoa of violating international law, but your outlet has yet to report it to the public. At least find out who the owners are why company is in Samoa. These are examples of where the frustrations come from. They may not be that important to you and it is within your rights as the publisher to choose what is news worthy and what isn’t. But listing your priorities now will help form opinions of community in the future. Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you for your comment Pale Taumua. You may have missed our article about the company Pro-gain Group which the UN Security Council named as being located in Samoa. We were able to do 2 days of investigative work on this exact company – which was helped by the fact that our office is in the same building that this company is supposed to be in lol. Here’s what we have found so far. We are still working on this one and hope to be able to report more soon.
      Lani Wendt Young
      http://www.samoaplanet.com/samoas-alleged-link-to-north-korea-pgc-a-ghost-samoa/

      • Faafetai.. that’s the spirit.. how can I submit and a public interest article to see if u interested in publishing..

  14. Keep up the good work Samoa Planet. Don’t be discouraged, keep on doing what you do for we love it.
    ‘Ofa lahi atu Lani and Sina from us here in Tonga

  15. I applaud your work Lani and Lemalu such inspired words can make a person cope for a day, I love all your writings and a greatest fan of Samoa Planet. The so-called writer OLP has nothing better to do than putting negative and useless trash on social media in which makes most of his followers attack people who are making Samoa a better island to live,
    Continue to write inspiring words of Truthfulness.
    ❤❤❤

  16. Long may your newspaper continue to speak the truth, Lani. Congratulations on all your dedicated work. I read your paper everyday and am inspired! This is a very lucid and clear taking apart of the liars and slanderers! Alofa atu.

  17. Congratulations on your recent award Lani…and please continue to write more…I love all your books, they are absolutely entertaining!! 🙂 I just love the way you write about our daily lives as Samoans and turn it into entertaining reading. Keep up the good work

  18. Nicely written and flow of your writing. It shows your skill. You did not have to defend yourself as most of us view these blogs as simply entertainment and nothing more.

    I am for equality and would defend the weak and most vulnerable of our community, but there is really no room for hate and name calling as these records are public records involving many innocent families.

    Hope we resolve these issues fast and focus on more pressing and critical issues in Samoa.

  19. Well written – very proud of you Lani! Malo lava to the whole Samoa Planet Team & Sending you Woman Secret Powers to carry on the great job!!
    Heres to more Godly Wisdom for you all!
    M

  20. Never stoop to their level of intelligence! One day, they will open their mouths, and realise they are deep in shit, and you will have the last laugh.

  21. Woman empowerment is an amazing!
    Continue your platform and do not allow haters to cut through to your heads!
    Use the hatred they have and make that your platform to be driven and accomplish more for the future of the younger generation of girls/gays/lesbians.
    The uneducated people will always be hating on you and others will agree but so what! Continue your work and let them throw stones but you must be harder than a stone and that’s how you survive!
    I’m from Sydney Australia and I ? support you, being a mother of young teenage girl I always speak to her about speaking up for your rights and looking after your people who can’t speak up.
    You are the voice for so many of us woman I will continue to support you from Sydney ❤️
    May the Lord give you strength to overcome the hatred of others and stay blessed!
    You have the Lord by your side, your husbands and you have us the people!
    What else do you need?! Be strong and have take deep breaths daily don’t forget your loved all over!
    God bless you both and continue your amazing work!
    Love Eunice Vaega Fretton

  22. Well said Lani – thank you for the lesson and the crystal clear demonstration of transparency and accountability with regards to Samoa Planet – what it does and what it stand for. The people behind it and their CONTRIBUTIONS in the development and lives of people in Samoa. More so for the illustration of educated versus uneducated…God bless!!!

  23. It’s so sad to know how people from our own country could be so vicious and cruel with their lies and comments on media Typical hiding behind some fictious name so we would not know who they are which is not surprising as maybe it is someone you talk to every other day Love your work Samoa Planet

  24. You do awesome work in a very difficult field…
    I believe your nay-sayers and abusers are scared of you, your team and what you stand for…
    Maybe you are close to uncovering abuses they are hiding…
    Keep up the good work…
    Remember what Gibbs (NCIS) always says,
    “Follow the MONEY…”
    The money trail will lead you to the culprit’s…

  25. #TeamSamoaPlanet! seems like some men in Samoa are still in the dark ages, obviously one or all of your articles must have hit a nerve, kalofae he feels threatened by a couple of women lol

  26. Nice article. Good on you.

    Have worked in the domestic violence and sexual health space, former 12 year NZ Police officer and now one of 2 samoan white ribbon ambassadors NZ. Happy to support or offer support to any future projects around these topics if you need. Aside, keep up the awesome work .

  27. Malo lava Lani, Tuiloma and your team. You have been called to be authors and fearless writers for our nation, more so now than ever before. Faamanuia pea le Atua i le tou galuega.
    Ps: any update on the Telesa series being in film? ?

  28. Great work for empowerment of women in various fields, I am all for the betterment of women’s lot, from urban to rural.
    And REPEALING S32 LTRA 2008 will also benefit the lot of women of the future generations.

  29. There is no room for B/S, you both have my utmost respect, I’ve only known you by the work that you have done, both you and Tuiloma and what you are still doing…you have worked hard to put you to where you are and so as Sina, well done youz both….
    Let that monkey olp hate you, it’s not that he/she is afraid to be caught its the fact that he/she cannot reach the level of popularity that you gain from working hard, and being honest with what you do…you are not hiding behind some fake page an tried to make a name for yourself, but that scumbag is??????? So hat off to you and Sina for your hard work….Actions speak louder than words….E le taufaailoina alo o tupu..e iloa I ona uiga…e tautala foi le tgt ao’ao’ina lelei e iloa o ia..onosai ma loto tetele e fai le lua pepa, ae tuu ai pea le vale e FASA aua e faifai lava gase…manuia tele le feagai ai ma galuega…a tatou ma le Atua o au we faasaga tau mai???manuia tele le galuega..

  30. Well said Lani! You and Sina have created an awesome avenue for freedom of speech on issues that are so relevant in our homeland. Letaa and are are very proud of you both…keep up the good work. God bless you.

  31. To all the team and contributers of Samoa Planet. Keep up the wonderful work! It is pathetic and cowardly to have attackers using ugly and hateful misogynist words and worst of all to attack under the guise of anonymity. You are truly appreciated by your readers and especially those of Samoan/Polynesian heritage residing all over the world!
    And as the Maoris would say: Kia kaha!! 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here