THE NEW TODAY wishes to draw reader’s attention to an article appearing on Page 3 in which a senior minister in the current government is trying to redefine the role of the media in asking questions to public figures especially those holding offices and especially paid by the taxpayers of the country.
The minister is probably not aware that the role of the independent media in a democratic society is vastly different from that of the Government Information Service (GIS) which is to promote the operations of the administration in power.
Institutions are set up in a country to offer protection against wrongdoing and corruption in public office.
The free and independent media has a role and responsibility to monitor the activities of those in public office to hold them accountable that they conduct themselves in a particular manner and not engage in pilfering of the public purse.
Any media house worth its salt will be interested in any public figure especially one holding public office who is engaged in the construction of an upscale restaurant and other real estate properties while in office and his own family having business arrangements with the government.
THE NEW TODAY will defend any member of the media who choose to ask former Finance Minister Nazim Burke about allegations that he had built three or five houses while in office as was peddled in propaganda against him by those now occupying the seat of power in the Botanical Gardens.
That female member of the media was perfectly right and in order to ask the current Prime Minister to comment on reports in the public domain that he had divorced his wife of long-standing when he tried to tell her “Don’t Go There”.
It is also the media’s right to ask questions about the so-called “concubine” of a Prime Minister – who works in his own ministry – at a time when it is well known that this leader is supposed to be a practicing Roman Catholic with the preaching and doctrines of the church.
When former U.S President Donald Trump had offered himself for public office, he came under the scrutiny of the media who dug up into his past and carried several reports of his sex scandals and those filthy words used to describe some body parts of the female.
It was the free and independent media that forced a British Minister to resign and fall into disgrace when reports were carried about his affair while in public office with a prostitute.
The current minister is rude and out of place to try and lecture the independent media on the lines of questions that can be asked.
If the media gets information that a chain smoker is the Minister of Health of a country then it has the right to question that especially the thinking and mindset of those who are responsible for making the appointment in light of the promotion of healthy lifestyles and the global attempt to ban cigarette smoking.
If the wife or husband of any member of a government is engaged in selling passports then it is the media’s business to pry into his or her affairs as it involves a prized asset of the State.
The media has a right to inquire into the activities of any passport seller who has an arrangement with any foreigner who is selling passports to earn millions and then put back some of them into the country through a construction project.
If millions are at play in deals for land transactions around the world famous Grand Anse beach involving passports sellers and other operatives of the government are involved then it is the right of the media to do an investigation into the happenings.
Reports are already surfacing about the activities of some members of the government to take advantage of what amounts to insider trading with information in their possession on the move to decriminalise marijuana and to look towards the herb as a money-making venture for medicinal purposes.
The media has a role and responsibility to delve into this to find out if any member of the current administration is buying up lands in the interior of the country to engage in marijuana farming.
It appears that the minister is forgetting that it was the media who informed the nation that EC$54.2 million of what should be taxpayer’s money went missing from a Shrimp Farm project involving foreign individuals that the said minister would have given his blessing as part of a Cabinet that is running the affairs of Grenada.
It was the media that discovered alleged wrongdoing in the running of the state-owned Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) in which the so-called inquiry has now gone cold as ice under the Integrity Commission.
The media has a serious role to play in discovering incompetence by those holding public office in carrying out their responsibilities on behalf of the people’s business.
It was the media that exposed the fact that a minister of the current government made a diplomatic error by approaching the authorities in Hong Kong to make diplomatic appointments when in fact that the right channel to be used is the Government of Mainland China.
A government minister has every right to give guidelines to the GIS of the day on what is expected of the organisation in promoting the activities of the government of the day.
However, this misguided minister will be crossing the line in trying to inculcate the same thinking into a free and independent media house.
And THE NEW TODAY would vigorously oppose, resist and engage in a bitter fight with any government that intends to pursue such a policy.
The mantra in the world today is for there to be a Freedom of Information act and the minister should be thinking of leaving office and with it a rich legacy of helping to create an avenue for the freeing up of information in the public’s interest and not seeking to control the flow of Information and trying to frighten the media into looking only into one favourable direction in asking questions.
THE NEW TODAY is not for sale and no one in government would be allowed to dictate the roadmap for it to follow in the pursuit of bringing out information in the national interest.