The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) issues it's Report on the Trinidad Guardian Incident

In the wake of the Guardian debacle, the MATT created an Advisory Committee to investigate the matter and create a report, as it regards to best practices in the future. The committee was led by veteran journalist Tony Fraser. It also comprised of Dale Enoch, Jones P. Mederia and Paul Charles.

As posted on the Association's Facebook page, the report is as follows:


Protocols for Issuing Public Statements

I Introduction

We exist to promote freedom of the media as enshrined in our constitution, and to foster its entrenchment by those who govern and are governed as inalienable rights of all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago whose interest, trust and confidence we hold to be paramount. In so doing we subscribe to the adherence to the highest standards of practice by our membership in their quest for truth and the delivery of products to inform, educate, entertain and persuade the national public. Accordingly, in the practice of the profession, we demand of our membership responsibility, independence, truth and accuracy, fairness, and impartiality. These considerations should guide how we represent ourselves either by behavior or in pronouncements to our membership and to the wider citizenry of Trinidad and Tobago.

II. General Principles

• In taking a decision to state its position on any issue, MATT should strike a balance between speed-of-response and a more deliberate gathering of the facts so that the statement would be definitive and less likely to be subject to the need for retraction subsequently when the facts are established.

• The Association should identify a representative/s of the Executive to act as the official spokesperson/s for MATT; messages should be harmonized to ensure consistency of statements, especially if and when representatives are speaking to the media.

• All written statements must be vetted by the quorum of the Executive with the President and/or Vice President signing off on statements before they are released.

• In making statements, MATT’s executive must be conscious of not reporting and or investigating an issue like a reporter would. Rather, MATT should adopt the position of analyst who is aware of a given situation through a measure of research, and, for example, where there is a perceived threat to freedom of the media, makes a declaration against such incursions. A similar approach should be adopted in other situations which may warrant MATT’s attention.

• In the event of an evolving situation, where all of the facts are still to be ascertained, MATT should issue a preliminary statement to make everyone aware that the Association is monitoring the developments and gathering the facts, and will respond, if necessary, at the appropriate time to defend freedom of the media and the right of the national community to receive information without strictures.

• MATT should establish an advisory body of senior journalists, who are not part of the Executive of the Association, to provide counsel on a range of relevant matters including communicating to various audiences in difficult circumstances. This does not mean that the Executive would routinely consult with the advisory body, but rather only in circumstances when fundamental issues are at stake and there is a measure of uncertainty amongst the executives on how to proceed. The Executive, however, retains the right and responsibility to make statements as it deems necessary.

• Whenever members of the Executive are in any way involved in an issue that is being researched for comment, such persons should recuse themselves or be recused from participating in taking decisions on such critical matters. Members of the Executive must also take the initiative to declare their interest in a matter when such possible compromising interest is not readily apparent.

• MATT’s executive should be increased in numbers to expand participation and with it, responsibility. However, the quorum for decision-making should not be significantly increased to avoid the organisation being paralysed without the power to act due to any inability to field a much larger quorum. Serious consideration should be given to having a quorum with an odd number to ensure against a deadlock in voting.

• While members of the Executive must retain the freedom to express individual views, they following considerations should apply when so doing:

They should be sharply aware to make a distinction between their individual views and that of MATT;

As far as possible, such individual/s must make every effort to inform the wider MATT executive that they are making an statement as individuals

In this particular context, MATT’s President and Vice President should be particularly aware of the difficulty in separating their office from their individual status, and are advised to seriously consider restricting themselves from publicly expressing individual views for the period of time they remain in office.

III. Process to be Adopted for Making Statements

Any member or number of members of the Executive can trigger and engage the process to warrant issuing of a statement by bringing a matter to the attention of the Executive individually or as a group. A non-Executive member or any number of non-Executive members acting as a group, or any journalist (whether or not the individual is a member of MATT) are similarly entitled to bring a matter to the attention of the Executive. The following will then apply:

The Executive must meet in a quorum to discuss the matter and take a decision to issue a statement.

Any such statement should also be circulated either first or simultaneously to the general membership of MATT.

In the instance of already stated difficult and complicated situations, the Executive may call on the Advisory Committee for advice and direction. It must be emphasized, however, that the final decision on and ownership of what is to be done always lies with the Executive.

When possible and necessary in the instance of a major development, a meeting of the general membership should be called to discuss the matter before action is taken or declined.

IV. Internal and Public Communication

• It is the ultimate responsibility of the Executive to keep its membership abreast of all developments and with the activities of the Association. The creation of an internal vehicle of communication electronic or otherwise, is recommended.

• MATT must continue to find ways to engage the largest number of journalists possible in its membership and in the work of the Association.

• MATT must continue hold the responsibility of keeping the national community apprised of its general activities to enhance the capacity of journalists and to protect the enshrined constitutional right of freedom of the media.

V. Advisory Group

The above is recommended for the consideration of MATT by Members of the Advisory Group convened by the President of MATT:

Mr Tony Fraser, journalist, Chairman

Mr Paul Charles, former journalist, Communications Advisor

Mr Dale Enoch, journalist, former president of MATT – 199-2003

Mr. Jones P. Madeira --- special advisor


Kevin Spacey's Mac Taggart Lecture

Kavin Spacey used his Mac Taggart Lecture to triamph the cause of the creatives. People who dream the ideas that business men can use to make money with. He also spoke of the need for the creative industry, specifically television and film producers, to embrace change. To not hold on to their precious content. Rather that they should release it, at a fair price, to the audience to do with it what they will.

I agree with Kevin. But I wondered if he was giving his speech to the right audience. It seemed more relevant to Hollywood or American television and film producers, not the UK. Not that they don't have their problems but UK television allows for character development, and they already know that the audience doesn't need their characters to  be perfect or pretty. They do love them complex: real or not.

As a viewer, I suspect that the discussion that the UK executives need to hear is one about the lack of diversity on their screens, something that Kevin ignored in his speech. They do need to improve their representations of Actors of Colour and women could do with more roles and a wider range of characters to play.

But I do love his presentation, I just think that he did it for the wrong audience.

People Need to See Themselves in The Media

The irony is painful, but we have an image problem in the Caribbean. It's a self image problem. We are so accustomed to see others and being told what to do by people who don't know us that we are blind to our own worth.

I blame our low self-esteem squarely at the feet of Colonialism. This is no question that "Colonialism created the Caribbean's pigmentocracy."

When you look at television in the Caribbean, it is full of American, English and other European shows. In Trinidad and Tobago, you would also find Indian movies and the occasional African or regional programme.

With cable entry to the local viewing landscape the average Trini could go for weeks without watching a local channel/ programme. 90 perfect of the channels are American, The Africa Channel and Zee TV (an asian channel) are also available on basic cable. When I was last home, we were also getting a Grenadian channel.

But we are hungry for local content. The local shows that become quite popular aren't necessarily quality productions or even good for us. But we watch them because we are straving. We want to see weself on de TV.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke about this on tells Radio 4's Bookclub in 2008, and this remains the same today.

UWI, St. Augustine has first degrees in film and  communications. The T & T Film Festivals and the T & T Film Company seem to be moving from strength to strength. People need to see themselves, and they need to tell their own stories, especially those who were Colonised. Emancipation is a process and learning to tell your own truth is part of taking ownership of your reality.

Why Everything Sucks

Craig Ferguson is the very funny host of "The Late Late Show" on CBS.

In this clip he breaks down our obsession with youth, correctly, in my view, identifying it roots in advertising's targeting of younger consumers. The results, he explains, are to our detriment. Watch the clip.

I think that we need to start thinking very seriously about the effects mass media has had and has been having on our behaviour. People aren't always cognizant of their manipulation. At least if they are aware and are complicit in it, they can make an informed decision. But a decision made in ignorance unfair advantage.


Tweeting while French

I only speak English, but many of you are polyglots, especially those of you from Europe and Africa. I, however, am a spoilt English speaker who is flirting with learning Spanish (I am at intermediate-level thank you very much), French and Trinidad patois.

 I started learning Spanish because of Trinidad's proximatity to Venezuela and the fact that our Government is trying to encourage local businesses to look towards Latin America. French I like because it's such a sexy language, and my family has roots in Martinique. I also have family in Venezuela, and my mother's family spoke Trinidad patois. 

Because I only speak one language I am intrigued by the language issues of non-English speakers. I have always been amused by the French and their rigid control over the language. Nothing has challenged their control as much as Twitter has. It's 140 character limit is a straining attempts to keep the language pure and free from the stain of English. 

The issue is examined much better in the Economist . I find it strikely similar to a discussion I attended at the BFI yesterday. We were discussing the future of Carnival, Trinidad and Notting Hill, and the general refrain was that the Carnival is dead and dying. Not to digress but with that issue and the effect of Social Media on the French language I think the real discussion is change. We are really afraid of it, and we assume that the Carnival, the language or whatever is fragile. That kind of thinking displays a surprising lack of faith.

That said a proactive approach is always the best. Perhaps the French Minister of Culture should approach Twitter to allow the French version of the site to facilitate more characters. Just a thought.

Oprah versus Switzerland

Poor Switzerland, one stupid store clerk behaves like an ass and now some of us are wondering if to put the counry on the avoid list. Why? As I see it if Oprah can face racism in Europe (and I remember the slight at the Herm├Ęs store in Paris) who de hell is me?

Maurice Mcleod wrote a wonderful article in the Guardian about travelling while black. Read it here.

The store is now famous worldwide for being the one that turned Oprah away. The owner, offered a lame apology and now the Swiss Tourism board has issued an official apology to Miss Winfrey. BTW, I love her comment about "Twitter Thugs", it is such an approapriate term.

How Do You Use Facebook?

This is fun infographic from the guys at Have a look and tell me what category you think that you fall into.

My Facebook usage is a bit constant and I see elements of the newbie and curator my profile.

The 9 Types of Facebook User
by killerinfographics.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

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Trini Girl who use to work in the News Media. Now she's a graduate of the University of Westminster's MA in Public Relations. Currently living and working in London, but dreaming of a PhD You lucky reader, get to read all about her journey.

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