May 8, 2018
Journalism in OECS under negative spotlight

Reporters Without Borders, in a 2018 world press freedom index report, has painted journalism and media practitioners in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in a negative light.“Journalism is not a prestige profession in the countries that are members of the Organization of East Caribbean States

. Journalists get little training and often abandon media work because it is so badly paid,” said the report under a headline on their website reading, “Media under tight surveillance.

”The report goes on to say, “many media outlets are under the direct influence of politicians, especially during elections, because officials can withdraw state advertising at any time, depriving them of income they depend on.”

The report claims that in some of the islands, political parties even own or have major shares in media companies, compromising journalistic independence while the authorities are also monitoring social networks more and more closely, which encourages a degree of self-censorship.“There has even been talk of addressing so-called “Fake News” in legislation, though no bill has yet to be drafted.

The Cybercrime Bill Saint Vincent and the Grenadines adopted in 2016, a vaguely worded law, expected to chill freedom of the press and expression online, is likely to be exported to other countries in the OECS”, said the report which added, “like many of its neighbours, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines still criminalizes defamation, and this legislation has extended this offense to include online content.”

This country passed its Cybercrime Bill in 2016 and since then persons have been charged under the Law, although no one has been convicted in a court of law.Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières, founded in 1985, is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press.