“President [Anthony] Carmona appears out of touch with the urgent demands for accountability in 21st century Caribbean reporting and journalism.”
The following is a release from the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) in response to President Anthony Carmona’s Republic Day message:
His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona SC is wrong to use his Republic Day message to deflect legitimate questions raised in the media about the use of public funds by President’s House.
Rather than demonstrating his commitment to transparency and accountability, President Carmona regretfully chose to smear the work of journalists seeking to hold public officials to account.
Press freedom is a distinct right enshrined in the Republican Constitution and all citizens have a right to freedom of expression. These rights do not exclude social media commentators.
In Trinidad and Tobago, no public officer is spared valid, persistent questions and commentary about how they use the offices to which they have been elected or selected. The era of not questioning high office holders has ended; all must account.
It is responsible journalism that motivates reporters to try unsuccessfully and in different ways to get responses to public issues from President Carmona and his office. Instead of a measured response to accumulating queries, the President yesterday opted to attack the noble profession and its more irreverent online practitioners.
The digital information age is characterised by diverse voices expressing opinions on myriad platforms that communicate quickly to large audiences. Recent trends in journalism worldwide have seen stories breaking online. New media’s contribution to how we gather, report and produce information is the way of the present and future.
President Carmona appears out of touch with the urgent demands for accountability in 21st century Caribbean reporting and journalism.
Further, it is an affront to journalists nationwide to hold up the names of some of our distinguished colleagues to obfuscate and launch personal attacks against the daughters, sons and apprentices of Owen Baptiste, John Babb, and the late George John and Therese Mills.
We are sure that they, like us, would vehemently oppose the President Carmona’s expansive effort to shoot the messengers while ignoring legitimate public interest questions.