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Trinidad & Tobago: Manning & the Media

Categories: Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights, Ideas, Law, Media & Journalism, Migration & Immigration, Politics, Technology

The furor [1] surrounding the Trinidad and Tobago [2] Prime Minister [3]‘s recent radio station visit [4] has not abated [5].

Trin [6] posts a comprehensive roundup of reactions [7], all of which have been highlighted in the mainstream media, but the beauty of this post is that Trin cleverly employs the same modus operandi [8] which allegedly got the radio announcers in question suspended: unapologetically commenting on the facts in Trinbagonian parlance…

Manning say, ‘If the spirit moves me,’ he will visit media houses to complain if he disapproves of the content they produce. Maybe the spirit should tell him to stop talkin and actin so friggin crazy.

Manning say it have no pro-government agenda media. I guess he ain't get the message yet that people up to they arse with stress from crime, food, inflation and the public doh really like him too much anymore.

Media Watch [9] reports that the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago [10] (which, incidentally, has not posted its views on this issue on its website) was prompted [11] to issue another statement [12] on the controversy, adding:

There is so much talk in T&T at this time about ‘Press Freedom’, but clearly that term means different things to different people. Consider the International Press Freedom Awards [13], and those who will be honoured later this month.

But Jumbie's Watch [14] is not convinced that the central issue is freedom of the press [15]:

It's a bit amazing to see the feedback over Pa-trick's visit to the 94.1 FM radio station is still continuing. Gratifying as it is to see that this issue is kept alive, that people are calling him to account, and mostly telling him he was indeed a cacahole to do what he did, it hardly surprises me that people just respond to the wrong issues.

I don't see this incident as issues with freedom of the press. I see this as an issue about the unprofessional oddities that passes for journalism these days. For far too long, the media has been getting away with substandard shite. It brought this upon its own head.

It was also unprofessional of the Prime Minister to use his office to intimidate two of the idiots also. A formal complaint would have sufficed, not the least because the owner of the station is a pal of his.

Finally, KnowProSE.com [16] says he is “almost done with the issue”, but he does have a few parting shots:

* The visit by the Prime Minister, as the ‘spirit moved him’, to a radio station is not appropriate for a person who holds an office that can (and apparently does) be used to intimidate the media.
* Management at 94.1 FM seem derelict in their responsibilities if the people suspended never received punitive measures before. If I were suspended by the management there and I had a clean record, you can bet your bottom CNG container that I would be seeking legal counsel. I've never owned a radio station before. That could be fun.
* The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Patrick Manning, whether intended or not, has struck a blow to the Freedom of Expression that can be found in the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago (Chapter 1, Part 1, Section 4, items e, i and k – and perhaps a).

In my opinion, I think the Prime Minister should issue a mea culpa. Sure, he may not like what was said – but he's a politician. He's had worse things said about him by the Opposition, not to mention people in his own political party. Further, if he continues to demonstrate that he can and will intimidate media into suspending employees, he makes opinions of dictatorial rule gain weight – something that would probably oust someone out of political office in a democracy.

So, in the end, the Prime Minister made a mess – intentionally or not, in good faith or not – and he needs to clean it up. Why? It will not otherwise go away. It has been recorded, it has spread across the world, and it is a ready reference should he go astray again.