Sunday, July 14, 2013

Express responds to Guardian: We stand by our record

Reproduced from the EXPRESS
The Trinidad Guardian may lay claim to many things but, on the evidence of its own record, flag bearer for the Free Press is not one of them.

Striking a posture of self-righteous outrage, that newspaper yesterday (Saturday) condemned Friday’s Express editorial “Defending press freedom”, harping on our position that “a media which is truly free must also have the freedom to be irresponsible...” Conveniently omitted was the rest of the sentence: “…even if media houses try their utmost to avoid irresponsibility.”

Given last week’s bizarre events at that newspaper, we recognise the editorial as the Trinidad Guardian’s rather clumsy attempt to save face by scrambling back onto the Press Freedom platform. The position is, however, disingenuous to say the least.

Its spin on the Express statement, which in no way advocates irresponsible journalism, is superficial to the point of being ridiculous. As a newspaper with 94 years experience, it cannot pretend not to know the philosophical ideal that underpins this concept of freedom. 

As a responsible media house, we know only too well the price to be paid for irresponsibility which is why we have long had a written editorial policy to which we hold ourselves, including management and the board, and which is posted on the website of our parent company, One Caribbean Media, so that the public can hold us to it. 

The Trinidad Express stands firmly on its record as a defender of Press Freedom. We were born, not as appendage in a conglomerate of non-media interests, but out of the powerful need to establish a national voice in the early era of Independence.

Our commitment to Press Freedom has weathered unending storms of every kind, including by advertisers, governments, labour and every kind of special interest. We have championed the cause of Press Freedom throughout the Caribbean. 

In the darkest days of Forbes Burnham’s tyranny in Guyana, we worked with the nationalist David De Caires to open up a space for the Stabroek News. In Grenada, we stood up to Maurice Bishop’s commandeering of newspapers. 

And lest it forget, in 1996, when the Trinidad Guardian found itself on the wrong end of the Panday administration, it was the CCN CEO, Ken Gordon, who put together a mediation group of eminent Caribbean publishers to broker peace between the government and the Guardian. These are but a few examples of our record.

Unlike the Trinidad Guardian which a few days ago announced that it was “loyal to the democratically elected government”, our loyalty is emphatically to the public interest and the public’s right to know.

After the tangled web into which it had woven itself last week, we can appreciate the Trinidad Guardian’s need to extricate itself. But attempting to distract the outraged public by throwing manufactured mud on us will not work. 

If the parties involved have managed to negotiate their way to a solution, we are happy for them. We would however remind all those involved about the dangers of crying wolf. The public trust is not something to be toyed with.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai