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MATT: Express should have acted on possible Gumbs conflict of interest 

The following is a press release from the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT), which deals with the resignation of Trinidad Express journalist Anika Gumbs after her allegation of sexual harassment by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley:

Photo: Trinidad Express reporter Anika Gumbs. (Courtesy Stabroek News)
Photo: Trinidad Express reporter Anika Gumbs.
(Courtesy Stabroek News)

MATT has taken note of a newspaper report that Express investigative journalist Anika Gumbs has resigned over alleged incidents of sexual harassment experienced while on the job.

We also note that political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM), Dr Keith Rowley, against whom these allegations were made, has adamantly denied them.

This issue has emerged at the politically sensitive period of a general election campaign and would naturally be of concern to media practitioners, political aspirants and the public seeking clarity on the matter.

It is not MATT’s role or intention to comment on the political merits or demerits of this issue. Rather, MATT wishes to intervene on the media-related aspects that fall within our mandate to promote journalistic best practices and a strong, independent media.

Photo: The Trinidad Express logo.
Photo: The Trinidad Express logo.

We highlight the duty of media houses to promptly address allegations of conflicts of interest and sexual harassment.

Under the headline “A figure of controversies” on August 8, 2015, the Express Newspaper references a possible conflict of interest involving its staff reporter. Ms Gumbs was simultaneously a full-time member of staff at the Express and the recipient of two government contracts.

It was the business of the media house to which Ms Gumbs was attached to investigate that possible conflict of interest; take action, if necessary, to protect its reputation and the reputations of all its journalists; and communicate outcomes with the public it serves.

Credibility is the stock-in-trade of journalism and any matter that might undermine or potentially undermine the professional integrity of both journalist and media house, such as a perceived conflict of interest, should be effectively confronted by employers.

Photo: A journalist types her story.
Photo: A journalist types her story.

This issue also raises a critical discussion on sexual harassment of especially female journalists, already the subject of discussion by journalists internationally.

MATT has received numerous accounts of sexual harassment episodes from journalists who continue to suffer disturbing effects years after the experience.

In all cases where reports of sexual harassment are made, media houses must address such allegations swiftly and decisively to prevent recurrence.

Given the far-reaching implications of the current allegations, we call on all media houses to strengthen internal policies and protocols related to conflicts of interest and sexual harassment.

MATT recognises and respects the autonomy of media outlets.

Photo: MATT president Francesca Hawkins (second from left) greets acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams (centre) while MATT officials Sheila Rampersad (far left) and Jabari Fraser look on.
Photo: MATT president Francesca Hawkins (second from left) greets acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams (centre) while MATT officials Sheila Rampersad (far left) and Jabari Fraser look on.

We invite media managers to lead deliberations within their organisations on the changing environment of journalism and the heightened awareness of their publics. New challenges faced by journalists in the pursuit of their stories and enticements to which they may be vulnerable must be urgently tackled.

Independent journalism is a vital pillar of the democratic process and media houses and journalists must assume full responsibility for its protection and promotion.

About MATT Executive

The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago is the authorised representative body for local journalists in all formats.

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44 comments

  1. for this crime we will punish the victim

  2. i told yu’all already,, dis surl too darm Brite,, hear meh i’yah

  3. Day of a thousand knives……the savaging of a female journalist is now complete, sold out by the organization she would have expected to focus on her right to do her job without fear, and this is what she gets…..very sad!

    • Nigel Darwent don’t be silly…..the Express did not fire her……She resign.. you forgot..she was traumatise after Dr. Rowley showed her his;;;;bare back;;;ask her to be a bodyguard outside her bedroom;;;;ask her about her tattoo somewhere on her back”and don’t forget the BEE…yes he remark that ”even the bee knows she ”sweet”……So don’t blame them….she could had a new assignment… but no… she prefer to be ”unemployed” with the Contract she has with the Government……Silly YOU !!

    • I was referring to MATT….read carefully!

  4. Still SMH…. you run to cover decapitated accident victims, gunshot victims, and other sensationalist stories, and yet….
    #4monthslater

  5. Some people just cant believe

  6. She better hide for the rest of the year

  7. And where would be the srarting point to pull the plug on this runaway madness?

  8. Codes of conduct, laws, rules… All meaningless without enforcement.

    • Scotty Ranking

      Leave dem nah, Lasana. When the government swoops in and decides to IMPOSE (as law) a code of ethics and conduct, local media will suddenly realise that they should have been policing themselves more stringently all this time …

  9. Me thinks she didn’t want to name the official in April to see who will fall for her crap in August.. Even MATT seems to think the story is fishy.

  10. Unless Media Houses develop and articulate a clearly defined Organization Code of Ethics , they will continue to expose their employees and themselves to a host of avoidable chaotic outcomes.

  11. Do you have any proof of that Adrian Clarke? That she was paid to write articles I mean.

  12. Gumbs was warned over the Marlene Mc Donald’s damage control article that was solicited and possibly paid for.

  13. you would be surprised how many organizations in this country do NOT have policies nor procedures for dealing with claims of sexual harassment

  14. Hurry up and develop some for Wired868 Lasana, so they can follow you… 🙂

  15. You mean they don’t already have internal mechanisms for dealing with sexual harassment (alleged or not) …a company as large and old, and supposedly forward-thinking as the Express?

  16. OCM does have a Code of Ethics for journalists

  17. Express has a code of ethics.

  18. The question which arise in light of the present scenario…..Does the individual Media Houses have in existence a Code of Ethics for all employees?

  19. Then if she couldnt establish that a crime took place she not looking for redress so much as she looking to sully a person’s name?

  20. To make a report, one must establish a crime took place. I have made multiple reports on harassment. More than two text messages constitute harassment. For anything physical, it must be accompanied by a doctor’s statement

  21. “He was in his own house and not wearing a shirt”

  22. He was bareback. He dust a bee off me and he tell me I rosy.

    All clear indications of sexual assault and harassment that the feminazis hot and bothered about today. While ignoring the fact that a black man and black males in general getting their name dragged through the mud again.

  23. “He say ah looking rosy”

  24. “He duss a bee off meh clothes”

  25. Rhoda, what exactly would a police report say?

  26. Has Gumbs made a police report yet? Or we still dwelling in the realm of allegations and shadow?

  27. This press release is full of inaccuracies. .. did she resign because of sexual harassment suffered on the job … please. .. read her resignation letter carefully. .. cmon MATT

  28. Well it’s another lawsuit for the Express. I also wonder how credible Mark Bassant is?

  29. Your connotations are all noble and without prejudice I am sure Wahid Mohammed.

  30. yeah why express hired a person with 2 govt contracts as an investigative journalist?

  31. I am still trying to figure why a journalist who is interviewing a politician in his/her professional capacity is going to the person’s home and not his/her office. Doesn’t the fraternity or employer have standards of conduct for staff and how to conduct business?
    Would not said interview not be arranged via a communications person for the interviewee who would be present during the interview? If one arrives and the interviewee is inappropriately dressed, one would ask that appropriate clothing be put on or leave.
    If you interview on the 9th and something inappropriate occurs why return on the 20th? I’m lost

  32. I did not connote any empathy from MATT for Anika. So are they saying she lie or is MATT a waste of time to support or reprimand their own

  33. Provided……………The Employer was duly and properly advised on these alleged incidents. If they were……….then another can worms is about be open.

  34. More and more this proves a point I have been making with startling regularity – T&T’s media is much more reactionary than revolutionary in its approach to its core business.

  35. MATT should have also provided suggestions / guidelines on how to investigate an allegation against someone whose identity the Complainant refuses to reveal

  36. How can one fail to agree with Scotty Ranking that it took too long for this response, albeit on point, to come? It will be argued that it is better to respond late and appropriately rather than promptly and off the mark. My response? That T&T organisations so often do not contemplate the third option – promptly and on point – tells the whole story about the kind of country in which we live.

  37. With all the speculation flying about with this issue, I too am starting to wonder if Ms. Gumbs intentionally placed herself in those scenarios in an attempt to trap Dr. Rowley for the sake of a scandal. Her descriptions of the situations and what could’ve potentially taken place, on the backdrop of the flimsy episodes that actually occurred, leaves one to wonder if this is simply a failed attempt and now she’s using sensationalism to drive it off the precipice that is the Trini imagination and thirst for bacchanal.

  38. Scotty Ranking

    MATT’s response is on point and completely relevant. However, the timing of their response leaves a lot to be desired, especially as the conflict of interst angle was apperently well-known before this incident. Alos, the matter engaged the views of the public for more than 36 hours before MATT mustered an official respone?