A news editor has been suspended indefinitely and the perennial debate on journalistic integrity and the people’s right to know is currently on again in Saint Lucia, following the broadcast of a threatening news item.
In the wake of an early morning raid in the city of Castries on Sunday June 14, Helen Television System (HTS) aired a news item that featured several young men, some masked, making threats to defend themselves against any further action by the police. The news broadcast on June 15, was quickly followed by a wave of public opinion, with many people of the opinion that the broadcast was in poor taste, encouraged criminality and undermined the rule of law. Many were of also of the contrary opinion that the people had a right to know what is happening in their country, that it was the media’s job to be a conduit for such information.
In short order Saint Lucia’s Internal Security Minister, Minister of Justice and Minister for Information and Broadcasting met to discuss whether any laws were broken and what action, if any, should be taken against HTS as a result of the broadcast.
That same day, Tuesday June 16, it was announced that HTS news editor Clinton Reynolds had been indefinitely suspended. A Daher Broadcasting Service (DBS) newscast reported that Reynolds was of the opinion that he had met every standard for good journalistic practice.
Opinions on Reynold’s choice were also split among the media fraternity. Speaking on the DBS news, experienced media practitioners such as former head of the Saint Lucia Media Association Jerry George, Editor of the Mirror Newspaper Guy Ellis, and Freelance journalist Ernie Seon, expressed different views on the matter.
Subsequently, Police Commissioner Ausbert Regis stated that in this HTS news item- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtctdrkCXJI&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehtsstlucia%2Ecom%2FHTS%5FNews%5FVideo2%2Ehtml&feature=player_embedded -that the video was admissible as evidence in court and the police would make every attempt to identify the individuals making the threats.
While Reynolds awaits his fate, the repurcussions of his actions continue to resound.
(JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY – Common elements include the principles of — truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability — as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public. Like many broader ethical systems, journalism ethics include the principle of “limitation of harm.” This often involves the withholding of certain details from reports such as the names of minor children, crime victims’ names or information not materially related to particular news reports release of which might, for example, harm someone’s reputation. Wikipedia)
(Posted to Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) members)