Last update: 06-Dec-2013 4:49 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Journalist to lead local govt debates
Founding president of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers Wesley Gibbings will moderate the debates on the upcoming local government elections. This is the first time the commission will use a single moderator. An official of the T&T Debates Commission said yesterday Gibbings was chosen from a pool of four people to lead the debates tomorrow and on October 15.
The commission’s official also assured that the structure of the debates has not been altered by the introduction of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ). Fewer questions, the official said, will be asked to accommodate the two-hour time period allotted for the debates.
Other parties taking part are the People’s National Movement (PNM), Independent Liberal Party (ILP), and the People’s Partnership. The Congress of the People (COP) also asked to take part as a separate party but after a meeting with the commission agreed to debate as part of the People’s Partnership.
The debates, which are scheduled to begin at 8 pm on both evenings, will be aired live on TV and radio stations. Each debate will last two hours. Senior party representatives will debate tomorrow and the leaders on October 15. During the debates, the moderator is expected to “develop and pose questions to the debaters ensuring that the debate is balanced, ensure the ground rules are followed, ensure the time limits are observed and to facilitate follow-up questions for the purpose of clarification.”
Asked about questions received from the public, the official said the responses have been great and that the commission received more questions than originally anticipated. The questions have been forwarded to Gibbings, who will chose from the pool of questions on the nights of the debates.
For the Tobago House of Assembly election earlier this year, facilitator Dr Ronald Ramkissoon and questioners Hayden Blades and former T&T Transparency Institute chairman Victor Hart moderated the debates. For the local government 2010 debates Dr Ralph Balgobin, Andy Johnson and Jessie May Ventour were questioners and the moderator was Subhas Ramkhelewan, the official said.
The leaders’ debate
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she will take part in the leaders’ debate on October 15. ILP political leader Jack Warner said he will only debate if the other leaders did. ILP chairman Robin Montano, said in a brief phone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday that if any of the other leaders refuses, Warner will not debate.
David Abdulah confirmed yesterday he too will be take part in the leaders’ debate and PNM senator Faris Al-Rawi said in a phone interview yesterday that Dr Keith Rowley will also debate on October 15.
Wesley Gibbings has been a journalist for more than 30 years and works as a freelance journalist, media trainer and press freedom advocate. He is the founding president of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), a contributor to two journalism handbooks and the author of numerous seminar and conference papers on the state of Caribbean media and the practice of journalism in Latin America and the Caribbean.
He is on the executive of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and a member of the council of the Global Forum for Media Development. Gibbings has been a visiting lecturer at the Caribbean Institute for Media and Communication on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies and has led in-house journalism training for media workers in most countries of the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
He has worked in the print and broadcast media and as a newswire correspondent for several international news agencies. He has also hosted radio and television discussion programmes and headed news operations at broadcast houses in T&T. Info from the commission’s Facebook page
Debaters for the parties for the senior representatives’ debate on October 10 are:
Ken Roach Independent Liberal Party (ILP)
Akins Vidale Movement for Social Justice (MSJ)
Colm Imbert People's National Movement (PNM)
Dr Surujrattan Rambachan People's Partnership
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