Friday, November 13, 2009

Slipping down the slope

Since the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago doesn't currently have a website, I've decided to post this statement, just received by email from the MATT executive:

It was with shock and dismay that the media association learned of the recommendations of the Privileges Committee of the House of Representatives with regard to Mr Andre Bagoo of the Newsday newspaper.

On finding Mr Bagoo guilty of an offence, the committee recommended not only that the newspaper publish an apology, but also that Mr Bagoo be banned from the media gallery of Parliament until the end of the session.

Matt considers this an unjustifiably harsh and highly unusual punishment.

Mr Bagoo had been accused by Information Minister Neil Parsanlal of committing a contempt of Parliament by publishing the proceedings of the Privileges Committee in another matter before those proceedings had been reported to the House.

The association admits that this publication by Newsday was indeed in breach of the Standing Orders of Parliament.

However, in previous cases involving breaches of privilege--including the case prematurely reported by Mr Bagoo, which involved Udecott--once the accused party apologises for the offence, he or she is almost invariably let off and no further action taken. It should be noted that the editor in chief of Newsday, Ms Therese Mills, appeared before the committee and apologised for breaching the Standing Orders.

In addition, in a minority report, three members of the committee disagreed with the recommendations and argued that banning a reporter contravened the constitutionally enshrined freedom of the press. They asked that members of the House reject either the entire report or that recommendation.

Matt endorses this call, and now awaits with apprehension the committee’s findings in the case of two other journalists also sent to the Privileges Committee.

In light of the recommendations in the case of Mr Bagoo, Matt notes with grave concern that a pattern may be emerging of attempted intimidation, by way of the Privileges Committee, of journalists whose reporting may have embarrassed or offended the Government.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dear Aunt Jobiska

Off the roots. Come on, join
Perhaps—I gripped the chair more tighdy
African temper in amour

For his Aunt Jobiska said, “No harm”
They sailed away in a Sieve, they did
Return hot joy time!
No brakes in amour

— A found poem, if you will: my favourite spam email subject lines from the past week. Apologies to Edward Lear clearly required.