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Guardian Media managing director Nicholas Sabga

Guardian Media managing director Nicholas Sabga yesterday defended the newsroom and its reporters in the wake of an attack on the media by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

During the post-Cabinet press conference on Thursday, Rowley, as he responded to what he claimed was biased reporting on the visit of Venezuela Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez, said there were no independent media houses in the country and that the media itself was defending the interest of its owners.

Yesterday, however, Sabga defended the integrity of Guardian Media and the fraternity as a whole.

“I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion and that is what this is, an opinion,” Sabga said.

“Guardian Media is committed to journalism and we must ask questions to seek the truth. That is our job as one of the pillars of a democracy. I believe the journalists must continue on that path.

“We have an editorial policy which speaks to our journalistic integrity and the freedom of the press.”

Sabga said Rowley had to “clear up” what he meant when he said that recent decisions taken by the Government was impacting conglomerates’ bottom line.

“But I believe this is noise and we need to get onto the job at hand and that is building this country,” he said.

Sabga said the reporters in the newsroom need to answer whether their work is influenced or guided by business interests of the owners.

“Or perhaps they already have,” he said.

“We in Trinidad have a rich culture and history in journalism. If a journalist believed they were being muzzled or directed/used they would let it be known.”

He said Guardian Media also has an editorial policy which speaks to the independence of its newsroom.

“It is key to the fabric of what we have built in our over 100 years as a media company that stands for the people and we will never abdicate that responsibility because we are the voice of the voiceless,” he said.

“Politicians come and go, we are always there looking after the public’s interest.”

The Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) meanwhile said it viewed Rowley’s comment as unfortunate.

“As an individual, he is free to hold an opinion, as a Prime Minister elected by the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, he must have an expectation, as a member of Government, of being held accountable.

“The position of our Prime Minister is familiar and over the decades the media has been subjected to similar comments by our country’s leaders. Prime Ministers and governments change but media remains. It is also normal in an election year that tension between incumbents and the media heightens. It is déjà vu chatter!” the TTPBA said in a statement.

Noting that over the years the media has experienced similar attacks by politicians, the TTPBA added, “Our journalists remain committed to the public we serve and to the principles of truth without fear or favour. In a democracy, the role of the media is to hold our leaders accountable and we must insist upon transparency.

“We believe our news must be fair and balanced. Where there has been inaccuracy, we correct it. The media is a reflection of our nation’s people. In a plural society such as ours with 36 radio stations, 3 daily newspapers, 10 local television stations and subscription television, we seek to fill the multitude of appetites. There is a difference between “news” and commentary, opinion and analysis which may have a perspective. These angles are meant to inform the public we serve and to empower them because they have the right to choose and make their own decisions on issues that affect their daily lives.”