“Media practioners must not allow themselves to the used by anyone, including governments, businesses, oppositions, or sporting organizations; your role must always stand the test of time.”
Those were words from keynote speaker, Prime Minister and Minister of Information, Dr. Keith Mitchell, as he addressed delegates and officials at the official opening of the 46th Annual General Assembly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, (CBU) on Monday at the Grenadian by Rex Resort.
“Media should not become the news, instead they must present the news considering, this is not show business or a popularity contest or even sensationalism for public consumption, but a mission to seek the truth so as to edify the public.”
The Grenadian Prime Minister reminded media practitioners that their role should not be confined to just selling to the public but to build public character and intelligence, to expand the public mind given the fact that the media represents the soul of the nation.
Mitchell said in his thirty year sojourn as a politician, there have been too many occasions of carelessness in what is presented to the public as facts, with no checks and balances. Too often, he said, broadcasters have their own agenda, and pursue such with no regard for the public good.
“ It must not be mistaken, the prime minister said, that the education of the public by media is a critical facet of the parliamentary democratic system, and therefore without the critical eye of the media, society will not make the progress that it deserves, the media must see itself as an essential component of a developing society.”
The information minister said that the quality of information technology available to media practioners is very revolutionary; however he added that despite the achievements, the 45th CBU Anniversary should be a time of renewed vigor and soul searching in the quality of broadcasting.
CBU must be seen as the vanguard organization leading that trail, encouraging others to follow, since the survival of the region to some extent depends on how it is presented to the world by the CBU and other similar organizations. The challenge of the all-important role of media to the region is second only to that of the politician Mitchell noted.
It is for this reason Mitchell said, the CBU has a tremendous opportunity and responsibility, the success of which will depend on how well it balances that overwhelming task.
The Grenadian prime minister said that media practioners always earn his full respect, once they continue to function responsibly. Journalism he noted is one of the most honorable yet demanding professions, one that is entrusted with the public good, rendering public service in a professional manner, taking into consideration the best interest of all.
Mitchell said given what has taken place over the years, CBU has a responsibility to ensure continuous training and professional support to its members so as to safeguard from some of these unprofessional practices that surface throughout the region in the name of professional journalism. The time has come he said for the media to deal with persons within the profession who are found to be in breach of sound practice.
Given its many challenges Mitchell said, irresponsible practice should not be accepted by an organization the caliber of the CBU. It is therefore critical that CBU ensure any voice speaking on its behalf, is one of professionalism, leadership and intelligence. “Responsibility in journalism should not be compromised by anyone,” the prime minister said.
Also addressing Monday’s opening was president of CBU Shida Bolai who lauded the effort of the Grenadian prime minister for his support and championing the effort of the CBU in the region.
The president said CBU is aware that things have evolved making broadcasting a different sector to that of the 1970’s. It is for this reason she said that the issues selected for the one week forum in Grenada touch both the current and long term priorities of the CBU. Among them she said, programming rights, digital transitions, the conversation of broadcast and telecommunication as well as media rights and freedoms. Facilitators include some of the leading media practioners throughout the region.
Meanwhile, for the first time since the inception of the CBU a visiting media delegation from the Peoples Republic of China was present at a CBU General Assembly.