Changes in the format of the post-Cabinet press briefing announced by the Honourable Maxie Cuffie, Minister of Communications, have understandably raised questions by journalists.
Over several administrations, the post-Cabinet press conference has been used as a forum where ministers of government made themselves available, on rotation, to answer the media’s questions on a range of issues related to the sectors under their purview.
In the new format, the Minister of Communications alone reports primarily on decisions taken at Cabinet meetings. Journalists are uncertain whether this is an interim arrangement and whether alternative arrangements have been made for regular press briefings with ministers of Government.
The press briefing is an important mechanism for Government transparency and accountability, two principles that this Government has promised to expand. The format offers the public an opportunity to assess ministers’ depth of knowledge on specific issues and to gauge the responsiveness of public officials to a range of questions.
Further, the open press conference format offers journalists equitable access to ministers of Government and provides an important additional opportunity for journalists to seek answers in cases where earlier requests have been ignored.
It is the work of journalists to seek answers from ministers and other public officials in the public interest.
The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago calls for further clarification on the Government’s policy governing communication with the media.