Friday, 7 November 2014, marks the birthday of Grenadian Theophilus Albert Marryshow. Had he been alive today, T A would have been celebrating his 127th birthday.
Marryshow excelled in many endeavours in his lifetime: politician, statesman, regionalist and journalist. He cut his teeth as a journalist under the mentorship of William Galway Donovan, who taught him the art of the profession; and Marryshow later became owner and managing editor of the West Indian.
On this weekend of Marryshow’s birth, Caribupdate Weekly wants to invoke his name in relation to media and journalism in Grenada. It is an apt time, we believe.
Only a couple weeks ago, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) asked radio station, CHIME FM, to cease broadcasting over licencing issues. At least two others also have been contacted by the NTRC over similar issues.
CHIME’s owner George Grant, his supporters and frequent listeners, as well as the opposition National Democratic Congress, insist that Grant’s station was singled out by the government – not the NTRC – for closure. “Don’t blame the NTRC,’’ Grant told reporters.
If, indeed, government targeted CHIME because it dislikes either the owner or the station’s broadcasting, then that is unacceptable. In a democracy, all must be allowed to exercise their rights – once they are obeying the laws of the land – whether or not we like or dislike an individual, organization or institution.
The truth is, in the CHIME case all we have are the words of Grant and the NTRC and the government. Grant has said one thing. The government has said it had nothing to do with his station’s brief closure. And, the NTRC says what happened with CHIME was the beginning of its efforts to regularize the licencing operations of all stations in Grenada. So, we await the final verdict on this case which appears headed to court. Grant has hired lawyers to act on his behalf in this matter.
However, there is another matter that also forces us to invoke Marryshow this weekend. And, that is the constant lecturing of the media. Media workers and journalists in Grenada must be the most lectured-to group of employees across our Tri-island State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
They are lectured to by the men and women on the street; by the self-appointed knowledgeable experts whose major hobby is calling radio and television talks-hows to get their two minutes of fame each day or each week.
The most famous lecturers of all, have to be members of the National Democratic Congress. It is true that the NDC takes regular swipes at the business community, the churches and non-governmental organizations for not supporting whatever cause the party deems to be “national’’ and in the “interest’’ of the “people’’ or the “nation’’.
However, far and away, the NDC’s pet peeve and their favourite piñata is the local media.
Just last week, members of the party’s executive called the press together and were banging away at them; demanding and chastising reporters for not investigating. In the particular case last week, the NDC was alleging that the government had either “given away’’ or “sold out’’ Grand Beach, and they were crying what a shame and a crime that was. They challenged the journalists to get up and get out and “investigate’’ the matter.
What is really irksome about the challenge is that most – if not all – of the NDC members know better and are being disingenuous. They are pretending as if journalists and the media have special rights or investigative power. Under our Constitution, a journalist is regarded as any ordinary citizen.
Nothing allows journalists to carry out police-type investigation or provides them with the right to access to any documents in the public or private sector. The NDC, when it formed the government from 2008 to 2013, had promised to pass a Freedom of Information Act. The passage of such a law certainly would have helped journalists do some of the investigations the NDC is demanding.
The fact is, NDC lawyers and parliamentarians have more rights – and could access information much easier – than any journalist could do. The party also has many professionals with Master’s degrees and PhDs. Why not apply their talent and resources to conduct investigations, rather than lean on the scarce and limited resources of the media?
It would be far better if at the next news conference, the NDC presents documents and factual information garnered from investigation and research; rather than throwing out allegations and then passing orders to the media, telling them to now go out and investigate and find out if what the party said is true.