Dismissed journalist stages one-man protest outside PM’s office

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, April 2, CMC – Dismissed editor of the Grenada Advocate newspaper, Rawle Titus, Monday staged a one-man protest outside the Office of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas warning against threats to press freedom in Grenada.

Titus was dismissed from his post by the Barbados publishers and owners of the weekly publication after Richard Simon, the press secretary to Prime Minister Thomas complained that a March 9 article about infighting within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) was inaccurate and requested an apology or a retraction of the article.

Regional and international media organisations called on Prime Minister Thomas to distance himself from the allegations that his administration was stifling press freedom and in a statement, the government stoutly defended its record on its relationship with the media.

The Grenada Advocate last weekend published a front page apology to the government indicating “that it is inclined to believe that there were inaccuracies in the story and apologies for any inconveniencies caused the Prime Minister and his Cabinet”.

Titus, who had refused to write the apology insisting that the article was correct, told reporters that he has been “made to suffer as a direct result of political interference, from the highest government office, in what is by and large a private newsroom.

“My case, though extreme, is not, by any stretch of the imagination an isolated one. Over the years, many in newsrooms across this nation, have been whispering to each other similar accounts of being made to retract stories or of having their stories pulled from the bulletin or press before broadcast/publication.”

Titus said he felt it necessary “to speak out, on the matter” re-assuring journalists that he does not regret his one-man protest “nor do I regret bringing the subtle attempts by this regime to suppress freedom of information to the fore.

“It is one thing for a man or institution to preach freedom of the press yet to openly practice something different; but it is an entirely different ball game to preach it openly yet in clandestine ways seek to shut up those who through their broadcasts and publications, illuminate their shortcomings.

“I here take this opportunity to urge you my colleagues to be vigilant. The battle is tough and the war is not yet over. We cannot rest; we must remain vigilant if we are to safeguard press freedom in this country.”

Titus urged his colleagues “not to cower in fear” calling on them to keep the “matter of my dismissal due to political pressure, on the front burner….

“I urge you to become more aware your rights and freedoms as journalists and media practitioners. Being aware of your rights in this field is one very important step in helping to reduce and eventually eradicate the incidences of press freedom violation, in all its forms,” he said, reminding media owners and managers that “cowering under real or perceived threats would only be to your company’s detriment in the long-term”.

CMC/nb/pr/2012

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