February 11, 2005
PRO: NDP trying to enhance relationship with media

Public Relations Officer of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), Israel Bruce has stated his party’s intention to enhance its relationship with the local media, particularly the print media.

In an interview with Searchlight at Democrat House Tuesday, Bruce hinted at alleged biased reporting by the print media in the political campaigns leading to the 2001 general elections, and subsequent difficulty experienced by the NDP in getting fair or adequate coverage.{{more}}

“The party has tried since 2001 to enhance its relationship with the media. We really tried,” Bruce stated.

The party’s PRO recalled an instance when party leader Arnhim Eustace went to Barbados for a press conference.

“You’d remember when the president of the party and the then PRO, St. Claire Leacock had to go to host a press conference in Barbados. That was indeed a slap in the face of the local journalists – not delivered by the opposition NDP, but it was a reality that was spoken out in the wider Caribbean,” he said.

Bruce said the Barbadian journalists concluded that something was wrong in St. Vincent why the Leader of the Opposition had to travel to their country to host a press conference.

“That should have sent a clear message to the members of the media here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Bruce stated.

Bruce further stated that since he took office as PRO, he had been trying to build a “harmonious relationship” with media practitioners. He, however, said he would recommend that media practitioners pay attention to a documented report by the OAS observer mission on the 2001 general elections here.

“They spoke to the manner in which the media has operated with regards to the election process…. The document has highlighted in its own way, where it says that the media was not entirely fair in the way it operated,” he said.

Reading from Page 24 of the said report, Bruce quoted, “The media, print, television and radio, carried extensive coverage of the electoral process and campaign – an indication of the importance of the election education of the country. Many people interviewed by the Mission, however, complained that the media did not always provide objective and balanced reporting of the campaign, particularly in the print media. The Mission confirmed that news articles in the print media favoured one political party, relegating the other parties to the back of the newspaper with less than positive descriptions.”

Bruce said media practitioners have to show journalistic ethics and class in their operations.

“The media has a responsibility to the population – not to a political party, not to the NDP, not to the ULP, not to PPM or green party or whatever party it is. The media has a responsibility to the State, to the people of the country. Because, if the media misdirects and misguides, the media is no better off than the political party that they engage in the process.

“The media must show itself approved, having the capacity and the integrity, to provide information and to guide people,” he stated.

Bruce said that hadn’t the OAS observers come to St. Vincent they might not have believed such a report. Instead, they might have assumed that the NDP was complaining only because they had lost the elections.

He however said his party would continue its efforts to enhance its relationship with the media.