Media menace

United National Congress supporters greet Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on her arrival at the party’s Monday Night Forum last night. Her husband Dr. Gregory Bissessar is on her right. Sport Minister Anil Roberts is behind the prime minister.
United National Congress supporters greet Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on her arrival at the party’s Monday Night Forum last night. Her husband Dr. Gregory Bissessar is on her right. Sport Minister Anil Roberts is behind the prime minister.

PORT OF SPAIN — Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said last night that there were “rogue” reporters in the media who were not fair to her People’s Partnership Government.

And speaking just before her at the United National Congress last night forum in Carapo, Sport Minister Anil Roberts launched a scathing attack on the Guardian newspaper, questioning a reporter’s personal finances.

Last week, Roberts presented a letter from the Integrity Commission which stated that he was not under investigation by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Guardian had reported that the Integrity Commission referred Roberts to the DPP, in relation to a complaint of alleged misappropriation of funds at the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Board of Control.

The matter was discussed at length by Roberts at last Thursday’s post-Cabinet news conference.

Last night, the prime minister described the issue as “troubling”.

She called on the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago to hold unfair members of the media accountable.

“I am not afraid of taking the risk associated with saying the following, which by no means should be construed as an attack on media freedom, but the evidence before me is troubling and it should trouble all of us as citizens,” said Persad-Bissessar.

Political force

The prime minister said that the Fourth Estate, as journalism is referred to, is in itself a political force in any democracy and its integrity is based on being fair and unbiased.

“And when that integrity is under attack by a few rouge elements within the profession, we are all at risk, no matter what side of the political divide you stand on.

“The evidence we have been seeing is that some so-called media professionals are not being fair to this government and are not reporting on the achievements and successes of the government,” the prime minister added.

Journalists, she said, have now resorted to distorting the facts.

Persad-Bissessar said that in the interest and cause of good journalism and journalistic integrity, the profession of reporting needs to be taken to newer heights of personal and institutional professionalism and excellence. The duty of the media, she said, is to inform and educate, but it is equally the duty of the media to be fair and to be truthful.

Persad-Bissessar stressed that she wants no war with the media as she pointed out that over the years she has built relationships and considers the media members to be “patriots” who work hard, despite the lack of financial gain, to help build a functioning and successful democracy.

She noted that her government funded the meeting of the International Press Institute last June at a cost of $300,000.

Freedom of the press is still constitutionally guaranteed, she said, adding that the people still live by the tenets of the constitution.

The prime minister emphasised that this freedom comes with serious responsibility. (Express)

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