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Bosses urged to handle protection for their journalists
Media houses must take responsibility for providing security for their journalists who cover stories in crime hot-spot areas, broadcast journalist Dale Enoch said yesterday. Enoch is manager of news and current affairs at I95.5FM. His statements came in the wake of acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams’ promise that there would be police patrols in the areas. Williams made it clear, however, the police would not act as bodyguards.
Four Caribbean Communications Network (CCN) staff had to run for cover on Saturday when rivals gangs began shooting at each other while the journalists were on an assignment in Laventille. Enoch, former president of the Media Association of T&T, described Williams’ statements as “some what contradictory.” However, he welcomed the efforts of the police to protect journalists. He added: “That was a bit of a contradiction... as if Mr Williams is saying ‘there would be police patrols.’ That in itself is some sort of protection.
“I have no problem with police patrols as they help the journalists to do their jobs freely... as long as the journalists don’t get too comfortable with the police. That might create other problems.” Saying he was thankful no journalist had died while in the line of duty, Enoch said media managers must do whatever they could to ensure their employers were safe while in risky areas.
He added: “I’m not saying this is something that has to cost a lot of money but media owners, knowing the journalists are going into areas that are considered hot spots must provide security for the journalists.” He said journalists, if they truly believed that their life or that of their family was in danger, should back away from going into a particular area or covering a story.
“As a media manager myself, I am certainly conscious of where my staff go at all times. I have regular talks with them regarding their assignments and safety,” Enoch added. But veteran journalist Lennox Grant said he was not certain whether the police patrolling the area was a good idea.
He added: “That might not be a good idea... having the journalist under the protection of the police. If the journalist is in an area where the police may not be welcome, then people might not want to talk to the journalists or, even worse, might want to shoot at the journalist too.” He agreed, however, that if it became necessary, media managers must seek to protect their employees by providing protection.
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