T&T PM calls for Caribbean journalists to understand their role in development

SCARBOROUGH, Tobago (CMC) – Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, has called on journalists in the Caribbean to focus, investigate, interpret, educate and report on the development processes of their countries.

Delivering the feature address at the opening of the 53rd General Assembly of the Barbados-based Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) on Monday, Rowley, a geologist, who has spent 40 years in electoral politics, said he has been a close observer of the media as he sought to make himself clear on the thorny issue of development journalism.

"I believe that journalists, in what is loosely called the developing world, should see it, in their professional charge, to focus, investigate, interpret, educate and report on the development processes of their countries."

“They must take ownership and be guardians, and given the Caribbean’s history, they must be understanding and sympathetic to the realistic challenges of the fledgling development processes,” said Rowley.

He told the media executives from the English, French, Spanish and Dutch-speaking Caribbean that most importantly, journalists must be able to carry out their function in the new environment “without any government guidance or intervention."

“As such they must cultivate, and view their world, with the so-called “Jeweller’s eye”, interpreting, educating and helping their fellow citizens to locate themselves and their interests in the wider world,” he said, lamenting however “I’m afraid that is not the journalism I see being widely practised."

“It is the journalism of “publish and be damned”, “Gotcha!”, or simple, “He/She said that” — all largely without context or recorded history. A listener, reader or viewer is not helped or educated – in the democratic process, when a journalist has a story, then searches for a counterpoint. Full stop. That is, it!"

“There must be a context, a wider, deeper background within, and to that story, which helps the receiver. Journalism today has to go beyond such limits of the current line of “attempts to reach Mr/Ms So-and-So for comment, failed”. Again, that is, it!”

Rowley said he wanted to suggest that journalists in the Caribbean, must see “every story they write, as report within the history and uniqueness of the Caribbean condition."

“Also, journalists and journalism today must visit and keep re-visiting the volumes, written on the dangers of cultural imperialism, and what it has done, and continues to do to the minds of the West Indian people, and its youth," he said.

Prime Minister Rowley said that it is in this context that he applauds both UNESCO and the CBU for promoting the discussion on its theme “Media and Information Literacy in Journalism”, as a relevant counter to the clear and present dangers of misinformation and disinformation.

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