May 13, 2005
Journalists urged not to buckle under pressure

by Sheron Garraway

Journalist Rickey Singh is of the opinion that censorship from government and companies make it a challenge to report the news accurately and he has called on members of the media to be strong and not to buckle under pressure.

“We would also be aware of the pressures that often come from government ministers as well as corporate interests, advertisers in particular, to frustrate news and analyses coverage by newspapers, or news and programmes by radio and television,” he said addressing media workers in Grenada on May 3, World Press Freedom Day. {{more}}

Singh said that has led “to the odious practice of self-censorship in sections of the region’s media that could result in erosion of media freedom as much as the negative consequences of ownership structures.”

He posited that, compared with the realities in various parts of the world, there were “increasing signs of self-censorship in both the private and state media and of the limitations often placed on media access by the public, especially to discerning voices.”

He further stated: “In this region, journalists are not murdered or imprisoned in defence of media freedom; nor is the extent of state ownership in the media, largely in the electronic sector, of any significant threat to established democratic norms or a pluralistic media system.”

The veteran journalist acknowledged that there were “experiences of overt and covert political pressures from on high: of expletives that come via early morning or late night telephone calls; of harassment at the work place to influence departure; or frustrate publications of contributions.”

“For sure,” he said “there are also examples of reckless journalistic behaviour that reveals scant respect for the ethics of the profession and contempt for the rights of and intelligence of the readers, listeners or viewers.”

As he wrapped up his presentation, Singh noted: “Let us not forget that people must be at the centre or “heart of governance.”

Ricky Singh was speaking on the topic, “What is Press Freedom?”

Meanwhile, Director-General of UNESCO Koichiro Matsuura reminded people around the world to protect the fundamental rights of freedom expression and freedom of the press. He highlighted Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “without these rights, democracy cannot prevail and development remains unattainable.”

Matsuura stressed that “independent, free and pluralistic media have a crucial role to play in the good governance of democratic societies, by ensuring transparency and accountability, promoting participation and the rule of law, and contributing to the fight against poverty.”