Editor in chief underscores the role of media in gov’t accountability

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Regional experts have reminded governments that the role of the media is to investigate and to hold elected officials accountable to the electorate.
Managing Director/ Editor-in-chief of Federation Media Group, operators of WINN FM in St Kitts & Nevis, Clive Bacchus said that governments tend to be hostile towards those news entities that regularly scrutinise ruling administrations.
“I think you’ll find a very good record of Caribbean governments using state resources to promote the ruling party, and with that mindset, it is not difficult to understand why they would seek to silence media houses they consider to be telling the other side,” Bacchus said on The Big Issues on Sunday.
He further supported his stance by highlighting that the media has a role to play in holding the administration accountable and in seeking answers.
“In a democracy, you must have dissent, you must have analysis and accountability. Too often, our Caribbean governments seem to believe that they can control the narrative by being the only ones who are being heard and get quite antsy and nervous about anyone seeking to declare answers.”
Bacchus also stated that checks and balances ought to be put in place so that the media is not used as a political tool.
“It has to do with what checks and balances exist in the state,” he said. “Whether you have laws or watchdog groups, the temptation is always there to win the next election. If you have a winner takes-all system where the winner of the election controls the state’s resources, with little to no accountability, they seem to feel like it’s in the best interest of winning the next election and to keep the party faithful happy.”
Former national security minister in St Kitts-Nevis, Dwyer Astaphan, underscored that the media plays a significant role in a democracy and should be allowed to do so freely.
“The media is a significant player in the unfolding of the democratic process and having said that, I am not indicating what side, if any, that I am taking. Certainly in the Caribbean, and not only in the Caribbean but the newly elected United States President has an attitude towards the media that is unprecedented in Western modern democracy,” Astaphan said.

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