HON. TILLMAN THOMAS LAUNCHES MEDIA WEEK 2012
Fellow Grenadians, I am pleased to address you today as part of the celebration of media week. It is that period when the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) recognises the work of its members and highlights its profile and activities in our country.
Today, I want to commend the media generally for the work they have been doing in keeping the Grenadian community informed and engaged. The many call-in programmes on radio and television as well as the introduction of interactive platforms on new media utilizing the Internet, have provided an increase in avenues for public information, feedback and discussion.
Therefore, I applaud those who continue to strive for improvements in their profession and performance.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my administration has had a consistent policy and record on the role and interaction with the media. An effective media strengthens the democratic process and holds us as leaders in government, NGOs and business, accountable. We believe that journalists should be able to work independently within an environment free from political interference and other forms of duress.
Within the past four years we have maintained our position and have worked closely with MWAG to fulfill our commitment to develop a media policy. The final draft of the Grenada Broadcast Policy is now in the hands of a media committee for final signoff. We regret that MWAG has withdrawn from the consultations, however, the process will go forward.
We are also working as promised to remove criminal libel from our laws.
Ladies and gentlemen, the global village in which we now exist allows for constant information access to everyone. ICT now provides a new platform that allows listeners anywhere in the world to access local programming.
Additionally, there is growing convergence in media as websites host radio, TV and print simultaneously. This therefore places tremendous responsibility on the shoulders of those who provide content to be responsible, accurate, balanced and fair.
As a result, our country needs trained, professional and mature broadcasters and journalists who are prepared to maintain high standards consistently, in the practice of their craft. Our practitioners must ensure that our readers can differentiate between opinion and fact in any report.
They must ensure that the public can differentiate between the work of the journalist and that of a paid public relations officer. They must undertake to disseminate information that is correct and desist from the deliberate manipulation of information designed to mislead.
Analysis and commentary should be justly labeled.
Conflicts of interest, real or perceived should be avoided.
Journalists must remain free of associations and activities that may compromise their integrity or damage their credibility. They must also be accountable to their readers, listeners and viewers, and to each other.
They must admit mistakes and correct them promptly while exposing unethical practices.
It is therefore my view that paid political consultants must never betray the journalistic profession. I am firmly of the view that the Media Workers Association must pay attention to these issues and solicit the support of regional and international bodies such as Reporters without Borders and the Caribbean Media Workers Association to assist.
The Media Workers Association must also protect the public image of the profession and must take a stand for the preservation of integrity in the profession. As a government we are open to support and solicit assistance for training and development for MWAG members.
In this vein, the Media programmes offered by the T A Marryshow Community College should be maximized. If used, our media product in Grenada will be enhanced. I encourage all owners and managers of media houses, as well as our young people who are interested in the profession, to make use of these educational opportunities.
As Prime Minister and Minister for Information, I wish MWAG a successful week of activities.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to declare Media week 2012 official open.