The New Today
Editorials

“The Sword of Damocles”

THE NEW TODAY is not taking lightly the manner in which it was prevented by a senior police officer from covering an event on the St. George’s port over the weekend that was linked to the eruption of the volcano in neighbouring St. Vincent & The Grenadines.

Up to this point, Superintendent of Police, Don McKenzie cannot come back with an answer on why our media house was thrown out of the port and the Government Information Service (GIS) was given free and unhindered access to cover the same event which has attracted not only regional but international attention.

The authorities might choose to hide behind the flimsy excuse that the port is of security concern and that no one without authorisation would be allowed to take photographs inside a sensitive area.

Refusing the local media from covering an event in the Cruise Ship Terminal Welcome section of the port is quite laughable as hundreds of tourists have taken millions of photos on their arrival and departure of the country in the same arena.

Our government has publicly admitted that it is cash-strapped and lacking in money to do a number of things that are expected of the State including the promotion of Grenada on the world stage.

Sunday’s event provided a golden opportunity for the world to see Grenada in action and its response to a regional effort to come to the assistance of a Caribbean sister state in desperate need of water and a Superintendent of Police would be allowed to decide that the local media should be prevented from covering the event.

The failure of Supt McKenzie to come back with a response on preventing THE NEW TODAY from covering the event is a growing trend within the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

Just about a month ago, Supt Vannie Curwen, head of the Community Relations Department (CRD) of the force promised to come back with answers to a question by THE NEW TODAY on whether his boss, Commissioner Edvin Martin had prior knowledge that a U.S Coastguard vessel along with Barbadian personnel were operating inside Grenada’s territorial waters and had detained a local fisherman.

The CRD head is still to provide the information for reasons best known to him while the U.S Embassy in Barbados has provided a response.

THE NEW TODAY believes that the police force was left embarrassed based on intelligence reports that the U.S and Regional Security Services (RSS) are often in our waters under a treaty in existence without the knowledge at times of any security personnel in Grenada.

The behaviour of Supts Curwen and McKenzie are similar to the actions of their line minister, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Keith Mitchell.

The Prime Minister has been holding special media interviews with selected members of the local media and leaving several out of these sessions and showing lack of respect to members of the profession.

How can a Prime Minister who says he believes in freedom of the press be openly seen in selective journalism when freedom of the press is a major pillar in a democracy?

The truth is Grenada is no longer a democracy but an autocratic state that operates under the Westminster system of Parliamentary democracy.

THE NEW TODAY will never surrender its freedom to anyone because of its belief and commitment to freedom of the press.

And it will never approach the government-influenced and controlled Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) to come to its defence and aid on such matters.

The current President, one Shere-Ann Noel is a government employee and is known to have told colleagues in the profession that she would not go against the current rulers in town because it was the New National Party (NNP) coming into power that paved the way for her to get involved in the local media landscape.

The situation facing the local media is compounded by the fact that many of them are exposed to the Chinese media system in which dissenting voices other than the communist rulers in China are not allowed to function in that Far-east nation that is virtually now a superpower.

THE NEW TODAY holds the view that the U.S government is to be blamed partly for this growing state of affairs in the local media landscape in Grenada and some other Eastern Caribbean States in what Washington conveniently refers to as its backyard in the geopolitical scheme of things.

Washington is sitting on the sidelines as a spectator and allowing the Chinese to provide the funding and scholarships for Grenadian journalists to travel to the communist state to learn the art of the profession. What does Washington expect them to come back with?

It is time for the United States to change course and provide more opportunities for journalists from Grenada, the OECS and wider Caribbean to sharpen their skills in keeping with the slogan of being the leader of the so-called “Free World”.

The Chinese are gaining a greater foothold in the Caribbean in the so-called backyard of Washington and some of our leaders who are already insensitive to press freedom will have no problem in local journalists operating and functioning like those in China who understand the power and authority of the Chinese government and lack of press freedom in that country.

It is sad that too many of our journalists in the Spice Isle have already been turned into Secretaries, showing up at press conferences and deliberately asking the “soft questions out of fear of repercussions from the powers-that-be whose tentacles reach into most newsrooms.

THE NEW TODAY is aware of one media house that is literally afraid of the powers-that-be because of thousands of dollars owed to the State in taxes.

Like the biblical saying goes, “The Sword of Damocles” are hovering over its head and also reaching down to a growing timid crop of journalists in Grenada.