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Media Association hopes Crime Watch survives; denies Francesca is compromised

The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) has expressed its desire that Crime Watch survives, after being axed by CNC3 yesterday, and urged the show, which is hosted and produced by Ian Alleyne, to address its “frequent breaches of journalistic conventions.”

Crime Watch was pulled off air after Alleyne refused to allow CNC3 authority to vet its content after an episode on construction contracts at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba opened the company up to legal action.

Photo: CNC3 wet itself while trying to defend Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne in February. It was alleged.
Photo: CNC3 has terminated Crime Watch.

MATT, via press release, claimed the controversial show served a “significant public interest” despite noting that: “[Crime Watch] on one hand bordered on exploitation of vulnerabilities while on the other hand it offered visibility and voice to citizens who were otherwise unable to access formal and timely redress through law enforcement and the judiciary.”

“While some viewed Crime Watch as sensational reality TV, the show also served a significant public interest. Many viewers relied on it as a window into communities that are relentlessly besieged by inadequate social services and a wide range of crimes, most of which are ignored by the traditional media…

“Notwithstanding these worthwhile functions, however, Mr Alleyne and media owners failed to inject basic journalistic safeguards into a promising local programme that sustained its popularity over many years and many trials. The frequent breaches of journalistic conventions of which the show has been guilty constitute ultimately a loss of credibility by media brands.

“MATT hopes that should there be a fourth incarnation of Crime Watch, its best elements that serve the public interest could be reinforced and its weaknesses addressed by consistent and meaningful investment in journalistic best practice.”

The release did not question CNC3’s role in the issue other to note that:

Photo: CNC3's media statement in defence of its coverage of Ian Alleyne's arrest in February 2016. (Courtesy CNC3)
Photo: CNC3’s media statement in defence of its coverage of Ian Alleyne’s arrest in February 2016.
(Courtesy CNC3)

CNC3 became the third successive media house to sever business relations with the Crime Watch programme and its host/producer, Ian Alleyne.

“The breakdown of this relationship illustrates again that without serious commitment to sound journalistic principles and conventions by media owners and individual producers, investigative programming and reporting content inevitably succumb under ethical, legal and public scrutiny.”

MATT rejected any suggestion that its president Francesca Hawkins, a freelance weekend news anchor at CNC3, was in any compromised on this matter or that any media house—including CNC3—tried to exert any pressure over the association.

(Full MATT statement)

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.

Yesterday CNC3 became the third successive media house to sever business relations with the Crime Watch programme and its host/producer, Ian Alleyne.

The breakdown of this relationship illustrates again that without serious commitment to sound journalistic principles and conventions by media owners and individual producers, investigative programming and reporting content inevitably succumb under ethical, legal and public scrutiny.

While some viewed Crime Watch as sensational reality TV, the show also served a significant public interest. Many viewers relied on it as a window into communities that are relentlessly besieged by inadequate social services and a wide range of crimes, most of which are ignored by the traditional media.

The programme on one hand bordered on exploitation of vulnerabilities while on the other hand it offered visibility and voice to citizens who were otherwise unable to access formal and timely redress through law enforcement and the judiciary.

Mr Alleyne’s reports and range of interviews filmed on location—including in many outlying areas—contrasted sharply with the output of so-called crime reporting by better resourced newsrooms.

Photo: Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne.
Photo: Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne.

Notwithstanding these worthwhile functions, however, Mr Alleyne and media owners failed to inject basic journalistic safeguards into a promising local programme that sustained its popularity over many years and many trials. The frequent breaches of journalistic conventions of which the show has been guilty constitute ultimately a loss of credibility by media brands.

MATT hopes that should there be a fourth incarnation of Crime Watch, its best elements that serve the public interest could be reinforced and its weaknesses addressed by consistent and meaningful investment in journalistic best practice.

On a related note, MATT rejects any and all accusations that it is compromised in this matter because its president, Ms Francesca Hawkins, is a freelance weekend news anchor at CNC3. The MATT executive comprises seven active members from various media houses.

MATT takes this opportunity to state that whatever the shortcomings of the media industry, at no time during the term of this executive has any media house or owner exerted or attempted to exert influence over any executive member of MATT.

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29 comments

  1. I don’t get how he calls himself a journalist, with such poor elocution skills. He fails to pronounce “th,” “t & d,” when it appears at the end of words. “Three – tree,” “things – tings,” “rest – res,” “assured – assure,” “that – dat,” “they – day,” “truth – trute,” “the – de.” I understand the need to represent all, as a journalist, however, a little polish on elocution wouldn’t hurt, especially when aiming at a cross section, rather than a specific target group.

  2. As with the majority of associatons , condone the shit of a member until public outcry or profits go south all the while knowing it was wrong from inception…..as for ian just the state of that desk on his show said a lot about his mind set .

  3. I am not a fan but thousands of people he helped are avid supporters.

  4. He was an ass! Your basic, opportunistic, exploitative ass! And by ass, I mean the entire category of the species, up to, and including, a horse’s ass!

  5. He was an exploiter of victims of crime and injustice, as well as a tabloid gossip peddler posing as a TV crime fighter.

  6. For me, Ian Alleyne was as fake as $5 Oakleys and had a disturbing fetish for dead bodies that he ought not be sharing with the public.
    If you cut out the dead bodies, then–go brave. But suffice to say that I will never be part of his demographic. And he looks to being just fine without me too… Win, win.

  7. Yet, he was a voice for the voiceless. And, for that, I wish he finds a home.
    As to the breaches of convention and the possibility of libel, a deeper look is required. That fine balance may have required a media/legal specialist but not the media owners to guide and control excesses. He should have had some kind of insurance for that…lol

    It smacks of something not nice.

    • An element of trust is always necessary in this thing. You have to trust that the person meant to review your work is non-partisan.
      If you don’t believe that, it can’t work. But every media house would need some level of security.

  8. Yeah. Although MATT’s role is more to help media workers than to reply to every media issue. That can be a distraction.
    CNC3 within their rights to take action against a show on its platform that opens company up to legal action.

  9. It would probably make the association more effective than meeting once a month though

  10. I don’t know if they have weekly meetings to be honest Vernal. I think they are only obligated to meet once a month. Not sure if they use stuff like video chat to make things easier.
    Even a weekly meeting won’t help if you meet on Friday and the incident happened on Monday though.

  11. LOL @ weekly meetings for a voluntary organization

  12. Oh so it’s not like they have weekly meetings or something?

  13. Well, remember that MATT is a voluntary body. That means when something happens, everyone has to check each other’s schedules outside of work commitments to have their say and reach a consensus.
    They were only a few hours after the traditional print press. Lol.

  14. MATT’s motto should be “Always a Day LATTe and a Dollar ShorTT”.

    So pointless.

  15. You can’t be bought. Already sold out

  16. Nice that they have finally found their voice lol