This will not go down as any testimonial Year of the Media. The year began in December 2011, when a police search party invaded the TV6 newsroom and all but locked down Express House.
Before this could be assimilated and classed as an aberration from inexorable historical trends toward freer expression, the same police gumshoes descended upon Newsday. They searched its newsroom, seized the computer used by Andre Bagoo, and went on to rummage the reporter's bedroom.
That neither their newsrooms nor their bedrooms enjoy status of sanctuary from search and seizure was the defining message of the year for media people. To greater or lesser degrees, they took it badly.
"FIRE HIM!" thundered a Newsday editorial targeting then commissioner Dwayne Gibbs who had upheld the searches by "peace officers" seeking sources for Bagoo's reporting on the Integrity Commission. The editorial denounced the raid as a "shameless assault on press freedom, meant to intimidate a reporter into acquiescence and to obstruct a newspaper from doing its job".
Such rhetoric hardly chastened anyone, in political office or out. To investigators and prosecutors of crime, and also to others, the media looked only like fairer and fairer game.
This has been the year, indeed, when the media have never looked more friendless. For another reason, the year began last December, when Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard chose low-fence media people as rhetorical examples, meriting his personal attention for contempt-of-court penalties.
Into the virtual prisoners' box, the notoriously risk-averse Mr Gaspard put the CNC3 managing director, a news editor, and a reporter. "The three named parties," he chillingly urged the court, "should be visited by criminal sanctions".
Reinforcing the message, police made an early-evening snatch at Express House. Before a crowd of his supporters on Independence Square, they hauled away in handcuffs Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne, once again on Gaspard-approved charges for violation of sexual offences legislation.
By mid-year, the Port of Spain world congress of the International Press Institute was on. By then, too, the T&T media's identification with alleged criminality appeared confirmed: an Express reporter and a TV6 cameraman had been charged with armed robbery.
Thereby highlighted was a process that dispelled any idea of media exceptionalism from the troubles and disorders affecting the rest of T&T. The media now stood in danger of being represented as equally a part of the problem as of the solution.
The media haven't known what hit them, nor tried to find out. Jack Warner, who built a career by cultivating media people, was shown ready to wave a copy of the Sunday Express before TV cameras and mutter darkly about knowing the lead-story reporter's home address.
Knowing T&T, it's too early to write off prospects for the annual Warner media party. That applies to other year-end hospitality by hosts in and around officialdom, for now regarded by media people as enemy territory.
Cold-war conditions are assumed to apply, even as Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed apologises for upsetting recipients with his wacky, just-between-us, letters to selected media people. The self-styled "Muslim coolie from San Juan" stands out as scion of the family, whose patriarch, Kamaluddin, could, in his time, never be imagined so to let himself go.
But this is now. The woman in charge, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, trusts in her own whimsicality in making ministerial and other choices as flakey as Herbert Volney, George Nicholas, Therese Baptiste-Cornelis and, now, Jamal-who-is-no-Kamal.
That he could be foisted on the media is a measure of the diminished respect, feeding presumption resembling contempt, reaching beyond highest official circles.
For the same reason that Ria Taitt was hauled before the Colman Commission last week, Andre Bagoo's office and home were searched. Both were being pressured to reveal sources of stories.
Last week, too, but off the front pages, other officials were muscling in. Customs officers on the Port of Spain port detained a Newsday reporter, and demanded possession of the camera with which she had shot photos of Grenadian shippers whose cargo the officers had forbidden to land.
Elsewhere, the easy contempt for the media had already come out of the barrel of a gun. In Laventille, last September, CCN representatives covering murder stories were themselves fired upon by gunmen.
As with the Colman enquiry summons, the response to such gunplay appeared to point up the significance of who is calling shots for the media. The Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union asserted that media workers were entitled "not go into an area where they may suffer loss of life or limb… (and that they) have the right not to cover those stories".
Assuming leadership in an apparent vacuum, the union was thereby proposing to exercise ultimate editorial authority over what story is to be covered. Again, this was a prerogative just as lightly presumed by lawyer Faarees Hosein who, as the paper reported, "gave Colman an undertaking that the Express would not publish any other witness statement before the witness appears at the enquiry".
With the shield-clanging jingoism about attacks on "press freedom" distracting the media from self-examination, hardly anyone noted that the unionist, and later, the lawyer were casually usurping the editors' right to determine content of news budgets.
It's been a year like that.
To be continued