Good evening and welcome to the 6th Annual Media Awards where we celebrate the profession and its accomplishments.
We are happy you are here tonight to celebrate with us particularly the accomplishments of 2011.
We anticipate a very exciting evening and we believe as the evening unfolds you will experience an adequate snippet of how gratifying it is to be a media practitioner, in a challenging and fast changing industry.
Share with us tonight as we pay homage to our accomplishments which included more training, distinctions for some of our colleagues, more innovations to our annual media week, MWAG’s ascendancy to a high level seat on the executive of the Association Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) among other achievements.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a great era to be a journalist and a media professional.
The development of technology and the reach of the internet have ensured that stories can be told quickly, efficiently and thankfully with little regard for the censorship tendencies of previous years.
With it though, comes the imminent dangers.
Anyone can post to the web and unfortunately not everything you see on there is accurate. The citizen journalists have to pay no regard to the gate-keepers that will otherwise assure fairness and accuracy – the foundation of our craft.
With social media network and BBM, the stories are sometimes ahead of us.
But people have used those powerful mediums to spread inaccuracies and create mischief and sometimes unfortunately we have fallen for them.
How many media reported that Vybes Kartel had broken out of jail in spectacular fashion, or there were three shootings at Bathway – when nothing like those remotely happened?
Therein lays the danger.
As powerful as the modern tools are – it does not reduce our commitment to fact checking.
The technologies and the platforms may change, but the basic tenets of the craft that have stood the test of time still remain.
And easy access to information of the internet has made too many of us lazy; neglecting going in the field and getting real people story.
We must not let the issuance of e-mailed press releases, mostly done obviously for PR purposes; replace us going out to get the whole story.
A press release is not a news story – but just an indication of one.
I speak to you tonight perhaps for the last time at a function as this as President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada – as my two terms are about to come to an end.
While we can never be satisfied, and we will always second guess ourselves about what we could have done, overall we are coming from a successful period.
We have succeeded in raising the profile of the organization, and by extension the very profession itself.
And while there are still shortcomings, and still new paths to cross, I would say the journalist in Grenada is more widely respected and accepted by the wide community.
Indeed the Grenadian journalist comes from a wide and deep tradition – a foundation which we all stand on today – and on which we must continue to build.
We stand as the beneficiaries and inheritors of the foundation built by William Garraway Donovan and T A Marryshow, and torch that was carried by the likes of the late Alister Hughes, and a giant among us Leslie Pierre, who risked his own freedom, so that the Grenadian media could be free.
It was from that legacy that we sought to build under my presidency of MWAG.
And we did so through advocacy and training.
Under my presidency we have had to boldly raise our voice on several occasions in defence of the interest of the profession.
We have advocated and accomplished more training overseas and local for media practitioners.
We continued the tradition of Saturday morning workshops which covered from constitutional issues to covering suicides.
During my two terms as president we maintained the vibrancy of media week and introduced new dimensions such as media extempore, scenic tours, sea cruise and dives.
In the year under review, we have had our trials and tribulations but we have rejoiced in our accomplishments.
Four of our young practitioners achieved distinction in journalism training at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communications (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies through our partnership initiative with UNESCO.
MWAG’s Secretary Nicole Best was elected to the powerful position of General Secretary of the Port of Spain headquartered Association of Caribbean Media Workers.
Four media workers benefitted from training in China and we hope more will benefit in the future.
We supported our cricket team’s participation in the intersector windball competition. Well, they didn’t win this year, but they are showing great improvement.
A sea cruise and diving expedition were introduced to our media week in June of 2011 as media practitioners examined the undersea statutes at Molinere point.
And this included our own Janice Augustine saddling bravely the challenges posed by Brandon in her mid trimester.
In the last year we have also celebrated with Lew Smith who was awarded the MBE.
Lew is a wonderful friend of us all and a worthy recipient of the accolade as a testimony to a proud body of work as journalist and broadcaster than has spanned more than a generation.
Lew Smith is one of the defining voices in broadcasting in the region in the last 30 years – and his depth of knowledge; fairness in interviewing; continuous yearning for information and his undeniable wit – are things we all wish we can have.
It was a difficult year as well because we had to say farewell to a colleague and brother.
So much has been said about Anthony “Jericho” Greenidge who wore many hats – and who had simply lived his life to the fullest.
Among the many things Jericho was at the time of his death – he was also a Vice President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada.
And it is in this context I pay particular tribute to him tonight.
The “duke” was always a big supporter of MWAG’s activities. He responded to the call for more training, by organizing his workshop series that many have gained from.
During media week, he was one of those who willing stepped forward to volunteer his time to visiting the schools to educate students about the profession.
He was an effective part of our advocacy arm and always was glad to participate in programmes to this end.
He was always a part of our social events and just say “media extempore” and the duke would say “when?”.
We miss him dearly and we fully embraced the idea of our major sponsor DIGICEL in introducing an award to be handed out, starting tonight, in his name.
As the outgoing President I will be going nowhere.
I will remain in the trenches with you and I will be a team player – there for the next President and Executive of MWAG – as our team has been there for me.
We hope that new people, who have not been involved at the Association’s management level, will offer themselves.
Collectively we must push to get those members of the media who are not involved with MWAG to ensure that they join the organization, for – as the slogan says – “united we stand, divided we fall”!
This is not a time for us to fall back or remain stagnant. We have to push on.
And we have to find new ways of being creative and effective, without always blaming our lack of resources or our difficult circumstances.
Collectively we have to challenge ourselves; set new targets; reach higher heights.
As we yearn for the next step of the ladder; when we get there we should not be satisfied. Each time we must set the bar a little higher.
We must build on the gains.
To quote from the judge’s report for 2011 :
“Several similar organisations in the region have significant difficulty in staging an event such as this each year, and this failure is reflected in the questionable quality of journalism in those jurisdictions”.
This awards ceremony must continue. Corporate friends we thank you and we urge you not to give up on us in this important partnership.
This awards ceremony does not mean that the recipients have arrived. We have just achieved. And we have just accepted a fresh demand to go forth and do greater things.©