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Published On: Thu, Apr 28th, 2022

Journalists demand postponement of accreditation policy

PHILIPSBURG -- Seven journalists affiliated with The Daily Herald and five other media workers have signed a letter addressed to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in which they express their concerns about the media accreditation policy the Department of Communication (DCOMM) recently announced.

The journalists ask for a meeting with the Council of Ministers and with DCOMM to discuss these concerns and to postpone the policy’s implementation with four months.

In the meantime, the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) has jumped on the bandwagon with a statement that calls on the government to withdraw the media accreditation policy. ACM has members in Trinidad &Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, Curacao, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis and Suriname. St. Maarten does not have a journalist association and therefore it is not a member of this organization.

The letter from The Daily Herald journalists and five of their colleagues makes a number of good points. The writers decline to sign any consent form until further notice and point out that the general message they got from the media policy is “one that slides towards authoritarian government.” They rightly point out that it is “fundamentally flawed” to think that it is up to the government to judge what is “quality journalism.”

Related article: Boycott the press briefing

The letter emphasizes the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press and it balks at the policy’s intention to treat video, audio and pictures of press briefings as the government’s intellectual property. The journalists also make an issue of the extensive security measures the government wants to put in place for those who wish to attend the press briefings.

The Association of Caribbean Media Workers says in a statement it issued on April 27 that the measures announced in the media policy “are in direct contradiction with basic principles attached to observance of press freedom.”

The ACM recommends “the wholesale withdrawal of the policy” and the design of appropriate media protocols that apply solely to the press briefings.

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