Prime Minister Tillman Thomas says that journalists who act like politicians should be treated as such.
Addressing scores of media practitioners during the 7th Annual Media Awards Ceremony at the Trade Centre Annex on Sunday evening, the Prime Minister charged that often time some journalists fall into the trap of politicians.
“Politicians want to control media houses, control radio stations and do all different things and some journalists fall into the trap”, he told the gathering which included representatives of the corporate sponsors, Digicel.
“Journalists should not be putting spins on issues, journalists must report the facts … educate and inform the public. Once you start putting spins on issues you cease being a journalist, you become more like a politician and therefore you should be dealt with as a politician,” he said.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that the remarks by the Grenadian leader were directed at Miami-based Grenadian journalist, Hamlet Mark who has emerged in recent years to be a strong critic of his four-year old National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
Mark is known to be close to expelled General Secretary of the ruling party, Peter David, the former Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation.
In one of his most recent pieces, Mark virtually accused PM Thomas of being untruthful and one who is not sincerely committed to his ideals of good governance, accountability and transparency in government.
The Prime Minister urged those who work in the media to be accurate, responsible and to always maintain the integrity of the profession, as it is a great responsibility and not just a mere job.
PM Thomas endorsed the sentiments of MWAG’s President, Rawle Titus who said that journalists must not allow themselves to be used by politicians.
“That is the problem I think they are facing in Grenada and probably in the region too”, he said.
PM Thomas gave assurances once again that under his administration, he would never do anything to frustrate or attack the media, but will move to correct inaccuracies, and expose deceit and deception when they are discovered.
He spoke of the importance of the media as the Fourth Estate and his government’s commitment to the freedom of the press.
He said that the removal of Criminal Libel from the law books and government’s commitment to establish a media policy are evidence of his administration’s support for the media.
He pointed out that any foot-dragging on the media policy is not on the part of his administration as they have done all that could be done to facilitate the process.
He disclosed that very soon government will remove Seditious Libel from the law books.
Delivering his final address as MWAG’s President after two consecutive terms, Titus said that he feels encouraged by some media practitioners and discouraged by other colleagues who have abandoned the principles of journalism for politics.
“I have seen political leaders championed the cause for press freedom especially in opposition only to contradict that principle later by influencing the removal of programmes they feel are too critical of their stewardship”, he told the audience.
According to Titus, while MWAG has commended the Tillman Thomas-led administration for the removal of Criminal Libel, however on the other hand, the association had to reprimand them when complaints are received from colleagues for interference and growing intolerance of the media by the State.
He claimed that while government has talked the talk about its commitment to the freedom of the press, he believes “there are some dark forces seeking to pull it in a different direction”.
MWAG’s President believes the time has come for politicians to mature to the point where they can accept scrutiny from the media without demonising journalists.
During the ceremony, several of the island’s media practitioners were recognized in the 7th Annual Media Awards Ceremony with CC6 News night under the guidance of News Director, Beverly St Clair topping the list.
Reporters Jennel Andrews captured the Best Sports Story “Kirani’s Homecoming” and Best Human Interest Story – “Disaster Simulation” awards while her colleague Sherry-Ann Noel took the Best Current Affairs and Feature Programme – “Strides to Glory”.
Noel also captured the Television personality and personality of the year awards.
Meaningful Television (MTV) reporters also took home three awards – Best News Story – PM Tillman Thomas “Riot Squad Breaks up Strikers” through Ria Murray, as well as Best Parliament Story – “Capital versus Labour Debate” from Gennil Reuben, and Best Agriculture Story – “Capitlisation of the Nutmeg Industry” done by Chearvon Benjamin.
Outgoing President of the Grenada Media Workers Association, Rawle Titus also walked away with the Best Feature Story – PM Tillman Thomas “Confidence Vote Threatens Wobbly Administration”.
The Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN) copped one award through Kishawn Thomas – Best Tourism Story – “Kirani Tourism Strategy”.
Longstanding media personality Mike Alexis – VideoVision again walked away with the awards for the Best Produced Video – “The Annandale Experience” and Best Public Service Announcement, “Service in Tourism”.
Best Produced Local Commercial was “Grenada Homecoming” Award done by Broadcaster and Public Relations Officer, Janice Augustine who is attached to the Communications Unit of the Government of Grenada.
Best Entertainment Story Award – “Sparrow Honoured in Grenadian Hometown”, was received by Lincoln “Torro” Depradine – published by Caribbean News Now.
Other prestigious awards presented during the gala media event were the People’s Choice – Radio personality/Veteran journalist/Broadcaster – Llewellyn “Lew” Smith of the Grenada Broadcasting Network, and Newspaper personality – Cherrian Blackman-Stephen attached to The New Today newspaper.
MTV’s Ginnel Reuben won the coveted Anthony ‘Jericho’ Greenidge Award sponsored by platinum sponsor of the Media Awards – Digicel.
Veteran Journalists and Broadcasters (deceased) – Alister Hughes and Leslie “Horse Mouth” Seon (deceased) contributions to the media were recognized posthumously for their contributions to the profession.
Brother Lennard Hughes and daughter, Leslie-Ann Seon, an attorney-at-law received their awards respectively.