The following is a statement read by Grenadian freelance journalist and current President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), as he staged a short protest outside of the Prime Minister’s Office at the Botanical Gardens on Monday April 2nd, 2012.
Titus was expressing concern for what he has described as signs of a threat to press freedom in Grenada. He was recently fired from his post as chief writer for the Grenada Advocate, which is run by the Barbados-based Advocate Publishing, for his refusal to retract or apologize for a front page story that the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Richard Simon complained had inaccuracies.
Read full text of Titus’ protest statement below.
Dear Media Colleagues,
This statement today follows very intense, agonizing, and arduous discussions over the weekend with family, and close confidants.
Knowing what I know about the serious threat that currently exist to press freedom in this country, I thought that it would have been remiss of me to remain quiet, as some have been doing, or worse still to break, as some have done, under the pressure that was brought to bear on me for the last few weeks.
I have staged what some are calling a ‘one man’ campaign over the past week to bring attention to the injustice I have 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.
Knowing what I and others know, I thought it necessary to speak out, on the matter, having fallen victim. I assure you I do not regret the exercise, 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.
Many of our colleagues who have gone before us have fought long and hard to get us to this point and we cannot throw away the mantle they have passed on to us to carry. We should not cower in fear; for to do so would be to admit that we are ashamed of the legacy of our forefathers.
Keeping the matter of my dismissal due to political pressure, on the front burner for the last week was a personal sacrifice that I would not like to see go to waste.
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.
I also take this opportunity to sound a word of caution to media owners and managers. Cowering under real or perceived threats would only be to your company’s detriment in the long-term.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank you my colleagues who have been extremely supportive of me in many ways during this very intense week.
I thank you for seeing that this past week of advocacy was for a good cause and I hope that it would serve to mitigate against attempts by the powers that be to interfere in the editorial rights of media houses and newsrooms.
The entire video can be viewed at the video page of this blog.