Veteran T&T journalist testifies: Media of today a disappointment

(Trinidad Guardian) Former television programme manager Bernard Pantin yesterday told the commission of enquiry into the 1990 uprising that the media’s performance today is disappointing. Pantin was programme manager at Trinidad & Tobago Television, T&T’s lone television station in 1990, which Jamaat al Muslimeen insurgents had seized.

When it was put to him by lead counsel Avory Sinanan that the media’s failure to regulate itself is “abysmal,” Pantin replied, “I won’t call it abysmal. “It’s something that disappoints me.” Noting that one cannot legislate against it, Pantin said there is a “desperate” need for education of media workers and to go back to the old tenets of confirming the report from more than one source.

He made reference to rumours that abounded recently that Congress of the People leader Prakash Ramadhar was to be fired by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. He said one reputable newspaper published that he was actually fired. “Young journalists today, and editors, rush to print.”

Pantin said it is left to managers and journalists to act responsibly. He said many media houses have codes of ethics which they don’t follow. He said he found it disappointing and insensitive when he sees, every single day and night, journalists sticking microphones in the faces of people who lose loved ones to murder.

“This doesn’t happen in the United States too often. Going to murder victims’ funerals has become standard.” He said having one co-ordinated communication system in the event of a crisis from the government or army would be near impossible in these times, because of the number of different avenues of communication available.

He referred again to the Prakash Ramadhar matter, saying it was rumoured that government ministers were sending and receiving messages during the emergency Cabinet meeting. Pantin said TTT in 1990, though wholly government-owned, was fiercely independent. He commended the media in 1990 for its coverage of the event.


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