Sunday, July 14, 2013

Guardian editorial takes aim at Express newspaper

In yesterday’s (Friday) editorial, the Trinidad Express opined: “A media which is truly free must also have the freedom to be irresponsible, even if media houses try their utmost to avoid irresponsibility.” 

The T&T Guardian takes the strongest possible issue with that position, as it is frightening and disgraceful for a media house to opine that it has the freedom to be irresponsible. 
Surely the Express must know that not one of the rights and freedoms enshrined in T&T’s republican Constitution is unlimited or unfettered. Freedom of the press is a right that contends with other constitutional rights, such as the right to privacy. More importantly, there is no constitutional right in the country’s Constitution that does not come laden with responsibilities. 

Someone shouting “Fire!” in a crowded cinema where there is no fire is expressing his or her constitutional right to freedom of expression. But that person would surely be subjected to accusations of gross and criminal irresponsibility. 

The Express’s practice of journalism may allow it to believe that it has the “freedom to be irresponsible,” but that is not the kind of journalism that is practised at the Guardian. As the Guardian of Democracy, this newspaper has always accepted that its freedom of the press gives it the right to practise responsible journalism that is at one and the same time robust and fearless but also accurate, fair and balanced.

No newspaper is immune from error. But, on the other hand, no newspaper worthy of the respect of the public, or indeed of self-respect, can endorse the philosophy and practice of irresponsibility—a main contributor to the morass of morality in which many societies find themselves immersed in these times.
Alcohol companies advise their customers to drink responsibly. Users of our highways are implored to drive responsibly. Young people are cautioned to be responsible in their sexual conduct. 

A newspaper that attempts to promote the “freedom to be irresponsible”—to advance what the late Lloyd Best referred to as a culture of unresponsibility—is surely out of step and out of line with a society that is struggling to indoctrinate a culture of responsibility in its citizens.

The Guardian calls on the Express to immediately resile from this position. In the editorial, the newspaper also stated it appeared that the board of the T&T Guardian did not “appreciate” that “kowtowing to politicians” was bad for this newspaper’s “long-term bottom line.” The suggestion that the Guardian board kowtows to politicians is an utter, complete and perhaps criminal untruth.

It is because the board of this media house has a strong and robust commitment to freedom of the press that it has commissioned a document that will codify journalistic best practices. That editorial framework, which will be made public when it is completed, will seek to enshrine in the newspaper’s DNA checks and balances meant to ensure the continued generation of quality journalism.
After 96 years in existence, the Guardian’s commitment to freedom of the press and the insulation of its editorial department from all external influences, particularly partisan political influences, remains intact. In fact, that commitment is stronger than ever, given the events of this week.

(The unedited response from the Express follows)

No comments:

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