As T&T joined the rest of the world in recognising World Press Freedom Day 2020 yesterday, T&T Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) president Kiran Maharaj said while journalism has made tremendous strides in T&T, there is always room for improvement.
UNESCO has themed World Press Freedom Day 2020 as “Journalism Without Fear or Favour.”
Maharaj hailed the efforts of young people, in particular, those who have excelled in their various fields especially in the area of investigative journalism to bring awareness to the public.
“But I think we are still lacking in some ways. One of these is the Freedom of Information Act.
“I think that the turnaround time for requests and also there are some clauses that are prohibitive in terms of freedom of information. I think that is left to be desired there,” Maharaj said.
She added there have been complaints by journalists who have requested information under the Freedom of Information Act but have faced delays.
Maharaj said there is also a clause in the Freedom of Information Act which speaks to management of the economy and prohibits journalists from getting information.
“There are some countries which have similar clauses but there is a criterion under which a journalist can ask for that information,” Maharaj explained.
Noting that the time has come to address these issues she said Government ought to follow suit from other countries.
“Especially in a situation now where we are now with the COVID-19 outbreak where data and information will become even more important,” Maharaj said.
Veteran journalist Tony Fraser said today people often talk about the quality of journalism.
“I don’t know whether it was any worse than it was yesterday or day before yesterday. I see a lot of good work by a lot of young journalists,” Fraser said.
He said the quality of journalism really depends “on the infrastructure from which journalism comes from.”
“I mean the newspapers, television stations and radio stations. I am not convinced that the owners and managers of these medium are interested in developing quality journalism,” Fraser said.
He questioned whether such managers provide the kind of training that reporters ought to have to allow them to grow.
Trinidad and Tobago ranked 36th in this year’s World Press Freedom rankings, moving up three spots from 2019.
The Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists.