The Prime Minister lamented the caliber of journalism in Trinidad and Tobago and other parts of the region.
He described the profession as being largely based on what he called “publish, shoot, ‘gotcha’ or simply ‘he says, she says,’ all widely, frequently, with no context or recorded history.”
“A listener, reader or viewer is not helped or educated by the democratic process when a reporter has a story that seeks counterpoint. Full stop. That’s it.”
Dr. Rowley argued that there must be a context, a broader and deeper background within and to this story that helps the receiver.
He was delivering the keynote address at the 53rd General Assembly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) on Monday evening at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Lowlands, Tobago.
The theme of the two-day event, organized in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is media and information literacy.
Rowley said journalism today must go beyond “attempts to reach Mr. and Mrs. Doe for a comment have failed.
“Again, that’s it. History disappeared.
Rowley said regional journalists should view every story they write as reporting on the history and uniqueness of the Caribbean condition.
“What has been presented as free and independent reporting must be seen beyond the metropolitan model or context and carry that flavor of our Caribbean.”
He said journalism must visit and continue to revisit the volumes written on the dangers of cultural imperialism and what it has done and continues to do in the minds of West Indians, especially its youth.
Rowley also complained that the radio station schedules are “mostly American pop or worse, American gangster, as opposed to conscious and meaningful West Indian music, art and theater.”
“Worse, there are sections of the radio frequencies dedicated to the illiterate musings of the hitman, spitting outrage and libel for free and for a fee.”
Rowley applauded CBU and UNESCO for promoting the discussion of media and information literacy for journalism, “as a clear and relevant counterattack to the clear and current dangers of misinformation and disinformation”.
He noted that the assembly manual referred to highlights of disinformation and misinformation dating back to the era of Cleopatra in ancient Egypt at Cambridge Analytica.
Rowley said that, according to verifiable reports in the British media, Cambridge Analytica’s misinformation originated ten to fifteen years ago from the TT and then continued into the “wider playing field” of US presidential politics. .
“Interestingly, as I speak to you today, those wheels are still turning in Washington, Arizona, Georgia, New York, and some neighborhoods here at TT.”
He urged media professionals not to take reports at face value without preventive fact-checking.
“It is the era of the big lie or simply the avalanche of common or garden lies, since shame has been reduced in its role of societal moderation.
“We are now required to devote much of our time and resources to debunking the lies in search of the truth.”
Rowley said that TT is not only known for steelpan, calypso and soca music, but “we … are partly responsible for the modern popularization of misinformation and misinformation”.
Journalism in the developing world, he suggested, should focus on, investigate, interpret, educate and report on countries’ development processes.
Rowley added that journalists must be stewards of Caribbean history and be understanding and sympathetic to the realistic challenges facing developing islands.
“Most importantly, journalists must be able to do so without any government guidance or intervention. As such, they must cultivate and view their world through the so-called eye of the jeweler – interpreting, educating and helping their fellow citizens to situate themselves and their interests in the larger world.