Veteran journalist Tony Fraser has been mandated by the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) to investigate the media body’s role in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper fiasco that led to the resignation of three journalists.
Fraser will head an independent committee to “review the circumstances which led to MATT giving contentious information to the public surrounding the issues of Government and Corporate interference at the Trinidad Guardian in July.”
Last month, MATT claimed that Guardian editor-in-chief Judy Raymond had been sidelined due to political pressure exerted on the newspaper’s board. MATT retracted the accusations a few days later but three Guardian journalists, Anika Gumbs-Sandiford, Denyse Renne and Dr Sheila Rampersad, quit during the turmoil.
Raymond was vice-president of MATT at the time while another Guardian editor, Suzanne Sheppard, was MATT president.
Sheppard and Raymond along with the rest of the MATT executive, which resigned after the controversy, were finally replaced on Saturday in a general election. And the new executive committee decided to hold an inquest during its first official meeting last night at the Trinidad Express headquarters on Independence Square, Port of Spain.
“The executive has acknowledged that the dissemination of information in July that was subsequently rescinded as erroneous,” stated the MATT executive, via a press statement, “has had a deleterious effect on MATT’s reputation as an organisation and on its members, going straight to the heart of issues of trust, which the executive feels must be rebuilt.”
Present at the meeting were Curtis Williams, president; Khamal Georges, vice president; Akash Samaroo, secretary; Omatie Lyder, assistant secretary; Carla Bridglal, treasurer; and floor members Richard Charan and Jabari Fraser.
MATT has not yet announced the remaining members of its committee or given a timeline for its report.
The committee, chaired by Fraser, will also “establish a protocol for future releases by the MATT executive” to avoid a repeat of the Guardian debacle.
The new executive committee also promised: to seek out a permanent home for MATT, to significantly increase training opportunities for media workers and to reestablish the media awards so as to recognise the achievements of media workers in their respective fields.
The next executive meeting will take place on 12 September 2013.