UTC head: ‘There would be chaos without responsible reporting’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UTC executive director Nigel Edwards gives the feature address at TTPBA’s 16th annual dinner and awards for media excellence at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain on Tuesday evening. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Unit Trust Corporation executive director Nigel Edwards, in his keynote address at the TTPBA’s media awards, urged media practitioners, publishers, and broadcasters to continue to be educators, to think about their value to companies and redefining their business model to be responsible and unearth the truth, and retaining and training talent.

The TT Publishers and Broadcasters’ Association (TTPBA) held its 16th annual media award ceremony on November at the Hyatt, Port of Spain.

ROOTS Foundation founder Mtima Solwazi on left and his son De Shawn Parkinson, receive a TTPBA award from First Citizens Manager Communications and PR Camille Atkinson at TTPBA’s annual dinner and awards for media excellence, at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain on Tuesday evening. On right is TTPBA Director Anthony Seegobin. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Edwards said, “If I were to reduce it to a question, it would be: what value does the media add? Companies must see an inherent value created by the media, because otherwise, nobody would spend a cent on advertising. And so even if we rather simplistically start with this measure of value, digging deeper, that sense of value that companies perceive comes from your ability to reach into the homes of their customers. That reach is through you accurately communicating on matters of interest in a way that creates public interest. That’s the goal,” he said.

He said a large part of the media’s value is their ability to unearth the truth. Calling the media “a critical institution of democracy,” Edwards said the public relies on the media to give “the unvarnished truth” about issues of public interest in spite of resistance from political or economic entities.

“Facts can lie, but the media must not. I’m reminded of a classic Japanese movie called Rashomon that examined the murder of a wayfarer from multiple factual perspectives, but not one of the individual perspective was the truth, and it’s a tough job, but we rely on you to examine facts that may seem odd or even contradictory and to give us the truth. That’s the job.”

He added that digital media were making more money by drawing in more advertisers and larger audiences, but described the media as a “validating voice.” He said the media now have to find a way to merge with the speed and dynamics of social media to remain relevant.

“You owe us all a way to ensure that as we enjoy the speed with which reporting is made available on social media, that it comes with the accuracy that we have come to expect from the traditional media.”

TTPBA president Douglas Wilson welcomes everyone to TTPBA’s 16th annual dinner and awards for media excellence, at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, on Tuesday evening. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

He suggested media professionals learn lessons from social media influencers, but still maintain a level of journalistic objectivity so they can guide the audience to making up their own minds.

“We need you continuing to deliver with the level of quality and consistency that we have become accustomed to. We want you standing between us and lies; we want you standing between us and societal mischief; we want you between us and the chaos that would exist without responsible reporting.”