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Saint Lucian journalist, Timothy Poleon, took the government to task on Monday during his radio programme “Newsspin” aired on Radio Caribbean International (RCI), over its recent alleged attacks on the local media fraternity.
Poleon, who was faced with a legal battle in the past, said while there are a few journalists on the island who are holding the government’s feet to the fire, they are being put under tremendous pressure.
“Calls to your bosses are constant, and those people making the calls are on the sidelines boasting of the impact that this is taking. They are laughing and Saint Lucia is continuing to suffer…Lawsuits are being brought against individuals and they are happy,” he stated.
The broadcaster accused the ruling administration of allegedly creating an atmosphere where the media is being suppressed, and the rights to freedom of expression is being trampled on, especially when they are put in a negative light.
“What if some media practitioners are afraid to bring critical information to the public? How free is the media in reporting truth in an unfiltered manner?” he questioned.
Poleon said there are a lot of things journalists want to reveal to the general public, but they have to tread carefully, because somebody might threaten them with a lawsuit, and they will be insulted.
“I just hope that the people of Saint Lucia, as far as this issue is concerned, that you are not short-sighted, that you realize what is happening. So when it appears that we are shortchanging you, that at least you can understand what is happening to most of us in the media right now,” he added.
The Newsspin host declared that those who continue to “prosecute and persecute” the media, will not be in those leadership positions forever, and said serious consideration must be given to that.
“I hope you know that. You have your own insecurities. In my humble opinion, if ever, you are given a position of responsibility, undertake that duty in a very compassionate manner,” he asserted.
Poleon’s comment comes days after President of the Media Association of Saint Lucia (MASL), Clinton Reynolds, was issued with court documents for alleged libelous statement aired on a news network.
Reynolds was the first person to call the programme after Poleon’s statement on Monday and declared that he was speaking not for any political party, but on behalf of the media.
“If we allow politicians and other interest groups to continue to marginalize us, to threaten us, to intimidate us, to ridicule us, then there will be no future for media on Saint Lucia,” he asserted.
Reynolds believes now is the time for the media to step up, come together and recognize that their democracy is being threatened.
“Now is the time for us to stand hand in hand, arm in arm, as media professionals in this country, and to say this is enough. What has been going on for years has to stop, and we as media professionals have to do what it takes to stop it, otherwise there will be no future for people who want to practice media here, or the future will not be as bright as they hope for it to be,” he added.
He said the media must continue to apply pressure where it is necessary and hold people accountable for their actions, while expressing their views clearly and fairly.
“I don’t care who you support politically, we need to safeguard our profession,” he noted.
Reynolds was served with the court document sometime last week, by attorneys for President of the Senate, Claudius Francis, who himself is a talk show host, like Reynolds.
Despite these arguments, some callers were of the view that the media must practice responsible journalism and report on matters that will not get them in hot water.