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Trinidad & Tobago Media Association Slams Irresponsible Statement

A statement by the Commissioner of Police suggesting that “inaccurate reporting” may have led to death threats against a local journalist, has irked the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago:

MATT hopes that the Acting Commissioner of Police was perhaps inarticulate in his characterisation of the threat because if his words are a true reflection of his position on this matter then we are all in deep trouble.

  • http://tntmonitor.blogspot.com Radar

    So somebody threaten to out Mark Bassant’s light and he gorn into
    hiding. Big freaking deal! It had to happen sooner or later, and that is
    if indeed it has happened and that this is not simply another media
    fabrication for reasons which Mark Bassant alone is privy to.

    If true, we’re surprised it took so long and even more surprised that
    threats have not been made to cause other reporters to go into hiding as
    well, given the type of irresponsible, reckless, malicious, biased and
    wicked reporting that some journalists and news reporters engage in.

    We can just hear the description of our words and the condemnation of
    our position by those who confer ‘sacred cow status’ on the Fourth
    Estate:

    “That’s foolish, ignorant and
    dangerous talk. A free media is a pillar of our democracy. We must be
    able to broadcast and publish what we want and if we offend people,
    damage their reputation or destroy their lives, they can respond through
    the pages of a newspaper, other media forum or they can take us to
    Court, blah blah blah”
    Eh Heh? Well, dat is how it used to wuk and how media houses want it to
    continue wukking. But these are different times, and methods of
    responding to media mischief, malice and wickedness are changing as Mark
    Bassant must now be realizing from wherever he is holed up. That is
    something we here have warned about on many occasions, that complacency
    and tolerance by victims of media malice cannot be taken for granted,
    that people would begin defending themselves in the most natural and
    human-like manner to unwarranted media attacks.

    While a free Press, vibrant and fearless, is recognized as a critical
    pillar of democracy and the right to that freedom is given special
    protection in most constitutions, Freedom of the Press does not exist
    in a vacuum, and contrary to what media practitioners may think and how
    they operate, our Constitution confers no ‘sacred cow’ status on the
    Media or the right to the freedom they enjoy. That right is neither
    isolated from responsibility nor absolute in its enjoyment.

    Nowhere does our Constitution state, imply or suggest that Freedom of
    the Press should or can be construed as an open license for journalists,
    reporters, editors and publishers to lie, misrepresent, misinform and
    mislead, or even worse, to slander, libel or otherwise assassinate and
    defame people’s characters and reputations. Nowhere does the
    Constitution contemplate that media houses abuse the sanctuary provided
    by legal responses to their deliberate and injurious wrongdoings to
    further defame and malign redress seeking litigants.

    A reporter’s first obligation is to the truth and his second is to
    report it fairly. When publishers and broadcasters fail to enforce these
    two basic principles and people’s reputations are injured, litigation
    is the only meaningful recourse. But litigation is costly and beyond the
    reach of the average aggrieved victim of media malice hence the resort
    to other more expedient and practical options that yield quicker and
    more decisive results. In the normal scheme of things a victim of media
    malice does not want money; he wants either his good name restored, or
    revenge, not necessarily against the media house or corporate entity,
    but against the individuals responsible for robbing him of the one thing
    that money can’t buy or replace, namely his good reputation.

    In Trinidad and Tobago there seems to be this mistaken notion floating
    around the board rooms and news rooms of media houses that they are
    entitled to print and broadcast what they damn well please about people
    without regard to accuracy, honesty and fairness, that they can engage
    in fiction and fabrication and that the victims of such journalistic
    misconduct and unprofessionalism must be tempered in their reactions,
    and should respond within certain very narrow avenues and equally narrow
    formats, as if the personal character of journalists or reporters
    should not be subject to reciprocating attack by victims of inaccurate
    media reporting.

    The practice of journalism in banana republics like Trinidad and Tobago
    carries with it certain occupational hazards inimical to the safety of
    journalists and reporters and inconsistent with developed country
    standards of press freedom. Journalists and reporters in countries
    similarly circumstanced to Trinidad have been shot to pieces, blown to
    bits, butchered, their entire families massacred, slaughtered like pigs
    because they dared to print the truth. But here in Trinidad journalists
    and reporters have been exceptionally safe, not one has been attacked ,
    killed or otherwise targeted because of the profession or for publishing
    the truth, not even for publishing defamatory and dangerous lies and
    hurting people.

    Maybe this long overdue natural human reaction to media malice and
    injustice would cause the media industry to take serious stock of
    itself.

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