The National Democratic Congress (“NDC”) joins MWAG and all media workers in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique in observing World Press Freedom Day, today, 3rd May 2021.
A free press is a key pillar of our democracy and vital to the dissemination of accurate and reliable information.
The UNESCO theme for observing World Press Freedom Day is: “Information as a Public Good”. As a nation, we are challenged to rethink how we use the Grenada media.
This annual observance of World Press Freedom Day acts as a reminder to governments, of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. Is also a day of reflection for media professionals, on issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Equally important, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for all media, that are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.
The government in office deserves full media coverage. So too do opposition parties, and all national stakeholders. However, in Grenada, many news and current affairs programs and the media landscape are overtly, and sometimes subliminally, controlled by the machinery of the ruling NNP.
Among the most glaring influences of the ruling party is the Prime Minister’s office continued handpicking of select journalists to attend press conferences hosted by the Prime Minister. For other government media engagements, some media houses are routinely left out or given late invitations.
At the latest press conference held on April 29, one of the three media workers who interviewed the Prime Minister came from his own Government Information Service, Sherry Ann Noel. Another, Real FM’s Andre Donald, which station the government awarded a contract to carry sittings of the Parliament, carries programming that is principally pro-Government. The third reporter, from WPG 10, tried to ask one or two tough questions but was overpowered by her colleagues who never followed up on a single controversial issue. Much of the 90 minutes was spent on the Prime Minister pet subjects.
NDC believes that handpicked media workers are used for these engagements to ensure that the controversial issues are ignored and probing questions avoided. This certainly does not augur well for a free and independent press, essential to a democratic society.
The Grenada media ought to be about producing and sharing factual, unbiased information - whether exposing corruption and conflicts of interest or celebrating achievements.
NDC issues a challenge to all in the media to use their professional communications skills for the public good. To do otherwise will be a betrayal of the tenets of good journalism and a disservice to the democratic society you serve.
Happy World Press Freedom Day!