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Maharaj: Abide by own code of conduct and ethics
Today is World Press Freedom Day and, to date, local journalists are holding their own, says Sunity Maharaj, media consultant and managing director of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies. “The situation is not particularly troubling.”
Referring to the tensions between some members of the media and the Government, Maharaj said she did not think it was unhealthy in a democracy. The media is perceived as the watchdog by members of the public, and the Government is defending its position, she said, and this was not new and had existed under different administrations. “I am not saying the Government does not try to influence the media by using soft tactics like bribes, but I don’t think journalists are cowed.”
She said there are individual politicians who may have also crossed the line by invading a reporter’s privacy. Maharaj said all journalists needed to do is abide by their own code of conduct and ethics. Asked to comment on members of the media having relationships with politicians, she repeated, “Media houses need to be rigorous in abiding by their own code of conduct.”
She said if a reporter finds him-or herself in a situation where there is a conflict of interest, the matter should be brought into the open and dealt with professionally. If it was just gossip, it would be laid to rest. Journalists the T&T Guardian spoke to said they do not feel oppressed at any point in time. “Once you can prove it’s the truth and it falls within the tenets of good journalism, there’s nothing to fear. “Even if politicians try to intimidate you, there is recourse.”
Local radio commentators yesterday felt the local media focused too much on crime and politics.
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