MATT to honour journalists for World Press Freedom Day 2022

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

IN commemoration of World Press Freedom Day 2022, the Media Association of TT (MATT) has announced plans to honour journalists throughout May.

The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 World Press Freedom Day in 1993 following a recommendation adopted from the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s general conference in 1991.

In a release on Monday, MATT’s executive said journalists, “have held the powerful to account, and by doing so, fearlessly defended the right of all citizens who rely on democratic, transparent, and fair institutions.”

This year, MATT will mourn all the journalists who have lost their lives on the front line and “remember journalists, our ‘old soldiers,’ who have been allowed to simply fade away.”

The association said it would also “honour stalwart journalists and media workers past and present, those who are no longer with us and those who are with us over the coming weeks and months.

“We will release profiles of journalists this entire month on our website and across our social multimedia as an act of gratitude for their service in building and reflecting the identity of a young multicultural nation, for being the voice of the voiceless, and most importantly, for carefully guarding our role as The Fourth Estate.”

Lamenting the struggles and life-threatening roles of those in the profession, MATT said it’s necessary to appreciate the efforts of those who have paved the way.

“According to the UN cultural agency UNESCO, which works to protect media workers, in 2020 alone, 62 journalists were killed just for doing their jobs (quite apart from pandemic and Ukraine war zone deaths).

“Between 2006 and 2020, over 1,200 media workers lost their lives the same way. In nine out of ten cases, the killers go unpunished.”

MATT promised to remain vigilant regarding legislation, acts and omissions that could jeopardise the free and fair practice of journalism and the safety of journalists.

“Last month, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley strenuously denied various accusations by public figures that the State is spying on journalists, judges, and parliamentarians.

“MATT welcomed this news as we are aware that without checks and balances, surveillance can be a sharp instrument that rips through citizens’ democratic rights to privacy and threatens the rights, freedom and safety of journalists.

“Spyware, misused, would be corrosive to the Fourth Estate and, as a result, to democracy. When MATT was founded in 1987, 35 years ago, its bedrock was to act as a defender of press freedom and the Fourth Estate as enshrined in T&T’s constitution.

“All past executives have always understood that the democracy of TT depends on strong media.”