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The media must be more active in pursuit of their legitimate responsibilities


Editor: I have read in the newspaper or seen on TV news that this health screening or that public forum is taking place today or took place yesterday at this or that public venue in Kingstown. Wonderful! What I don’t read or hear is that this or that event is going to take place next week, on this or that date, or at some other near date in the near future.{{more}} I would have loved to be present for the public forum held by NTRC and ECTEL at Heritage Square last Friday. Telling me about it after the fact is not a service; it is in fact a failure of the news media.

Advising the public of what is to come is one of the major functions of a responsible press. Telling me a road was closed last week, when the media should have been on top of the Government’s planned action and should have reported the week before that a road closure was planned, is bad news coverage. And this happens much more than it should in this country. The various clubs, NGO’s and cultural and religious organizations, as well as Government entities, know well in advance when public activities or services are going to be provided (maybe not so much with the Government, who has a hard time telling its right foot from its left). It is the news media’s responsibility to let the public know in advance, not just after, significant services and/or events are to transpire.

The Government may well want to conceal an open forum, for its own reasons; an NGO or private organization may simply not have a sufficiently competent publicity person to get the word out in time. News media need to be reminding those entities to give them advance notice, so as to be able to advise the public, to get the word out in time to allow the public to avail themselves of these opportunities.

I hesitate to say it is laziness on the part of journalists, because I have a great deal of respect for journalism as a profession, but I am not reluctant to prod the media, as employers, to be more active in pursuit of their legitimate responsibilities.