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Lack of freedom at State’s CNMG

By Darcel Choy Saturday, May 3 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Jones P Madeira...
Jones P Madeira...

Even as the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day today, there are concerns right here at home about the lack of freedom within State-owned Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG).

The concerns were raised yesterday by president of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago, (MATT) and former CNMG employee Curtis Williams during a panel discussion on i95.5 FM on the state of the media in the country.

Newsday’s Editor-in-Chief Jones P Madeira, journalist Dr Sheila Rampersad and TV6 journalist Jabari Fraser were also on the panel, and the moderator was i95.5 FM’s talk show host Arlene Sirjoo.

Williams expressed concern about the way CNMG’s newsroom is currently being operated.

“I have heard complaints from people at CNMG about all kinds of things including not being able to run particular types of stories,” he said

Williams also expressed concern about the fact that chief executive officer of the Government Information Services Limited (GISL), Andy Johnson, a former journalist, was also the executive producer at CNMG.

Madeira, meanwhile, lamented the lack of solidarity within the media fraternity locally, saying that there is not much cohesion from other institutions when a media house is affected by “intimidation.”

“If you have the situation where somebody in authority has done your media house wrong, that is your business and there is too much of that happening,” he said. Madeira then advocated for organisations such as MATT and Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association to be more than just a gathering of people.

“There must be programmes that allow people to understand the role of media and to frown on anything that impacts its freedom. I don’t think the media community is together enough on that score,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rampersad noted in recent times, journalists have been defamed in a way that was “unprecedented”.

She added, “There is an overtness of those ambushes that are different now. When MATT stands up on behalf of journalists, like myself, who are under attack...then MATT is attacked.”

Referring to the recent story on concerns raised by Master Patricia Sobion-Awai in her February 5 decision in the Jamal Sambury assault claim against the State, Rampersad said the length of time it took for it to be published in the media reflected that journalists are afraid.

“That story never entered the media until the end of March.

That story took a full two months and this is a public judgment, and when it did appear, one newspaper carried it,” she said.

Rampersad questioned whether something was happening within the media.

“Is it the threat? Is it the intimidation, is it that journalists are opting out of very controversial issues because they do not want to suffer that. I would say from my involvement in this issue that there were journalists who chose not to carry that story,” she said.

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