Journalist must guard, not abuse, press freedom
I am a professor of mass communications at the University of Georgia in the United States of America.
I am a regular reader of your online newspaper and have followed with interest the discussions and commentaries on recent political developments in Trinidad and Tobago, and more particularly the allegations that members of the government are "attacking the media" in Trinidad and Tobago. This, of course, is not confined to Trinidad and Tobago neither is it confined to the Caribbean region.
Let me say from the onset that I am a strong advocate for the freedom of press and freedom of expression. But I also believe and teach that freedom is not absolute and with freedom comes a strong sense of responsibility.
Journalists and media professionals must guard this freedom. But they must also ensure that the freedoms afforded to them in a democracy are not abused.
Here in the United States the concept of press freedom is not taken lightly, but it is also a well-known and well understood fact that entire media houses use this concept of freedom to engage in political gerrymandering of information to suit their particular objectives, thereby creating news through sensationalism and deceit.
In Trinidad and Tobago, we face the challenges of having to comment on unscrupulous politicians regardless of the political party to which they belong. I am also confident that some journalist also engage in activities that are in breach of the codes of ethics that we as media professionals adhere to and as such we must be aware that journalists come in all shapes and sizes.
I urge the journalistic community to guard against the temptation to become unbalanced in the reporting of events and facts and be wary of becoming influenced by the agendas of certain interest groups. The remodelling of facts and information to create sensationalism for that particular news cycle is not the best practice in good journalism. We must not create news; we must report it and do so responsibly.
Prof Benjamin Nancoo, PhD,
University of Georgia