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Trying to go it alone and failing in an authoritarian developing state

University of Florida Institutional Repository

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TRYING TO GO IT ALONE AND FAILING IN AN AUTHORITARIAN DEVELOPING STATE: A CASE STUDY OF THE INDEPENDENT IN TRINIDAD By CASSANDRA D. CRUICKSHANK A THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2005

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Copyright 2005 by Cassandra D. Cruickshank

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to gratefully acknowledge the enthusiastic supervision of Dr. Michael Leslie during this work. It was a pleasure and an education to work with someone as knowledgeable about international media as he is. I would also like to thank Dr. Howard Sid Pactor, Dr. Debbie Treise, Dr. Kim Walsh-Childers, Dr. Julian Williams and Dr. Jon Roosenraad for their guidance and participation as committee members. I am forever indebted to my parents, Clive Cruickshank and Veda Joseph-Cruickshank, for their understanding, endless patience and encouragement when it was most required. Finally, I am grateful to my best friend Terry Wilson. Sometimes I thought he wanted this degree more than I did, but I am thankful all the same that he was there to help me through the bad times. iii

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iii LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................vi ABSTRACT......................................................................................................................vii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Purpose of the Study.....................................................................................................1 Research Questions.......................................................................................................1 Research Approach.......................................................................................................1 Interviews with Editors..........................................................................................2 Content Analysis of Editorial Themes in a 9 Month Sample................................2 Examination of Government Edicts, Pronouncements..........................................3 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.............................................................................................5 Various Types of State Press Relationships.................................................................5 History of Press and Government Relations in Trinidad..............................................7 Trinidad History....................................................................................................7 The Press and Government in Trinidad and Tobago.............................................8 Recent Attempts by Government to Limit Press Freedom....................................9 The Green Paper and Press Freedom..........................................................................13 Development News or Press Control?........................................................................15 Other Factors that Affect the Survival of Independent Media...................................19 Managerial Expertise...........................................................................................19 Advertising..........................................................................................................20 Circulation...........................................................................................................21 Demographics......................................................................................................22 Editorial Policies.................................................................................................22 Ownership............................................................................................................23 Government Relations.........................................................................................24 3 CASE STUDY: THE INDEPENDENT .....................................................................26 History of the Independent .........................................................................................26 iv

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High Start-Up Costs............................................................................................27 Small Advertising Base.......................................................................................28 Weak Circulation.................................................................................................28 Weak Demographics...........................................................................................29 Hostile Editorial Policy.......................................................................................29 Ownership Changes.............................................................................................30 Poor Government Relations................................................................................30 Content Analysis of Independent Editorials...............................................................31 4 CONCLUSION...........................................................................................................34 APPENDIX A INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED RESTRICT MEDIA...............................40 B INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED SOCIAL/POSITIVE..............................41 C INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED PANDAY/NEGATIVE..........................42 D INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED UNC/POSITIVE....................................43 E INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED SOCIAL ILLS........................................44 F INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED UNC/NEGATIVE..................................45 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................46 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................51 v

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1 Conceptual analysis of Independent editorials.........................................................32 3-2 Positive vs. negative political coverage in Independent editorial sample................32 3-3 Full titles of Independent editorials and coding schemes........................................32 vi

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Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication TRYING TO GO IT ALONE AND FAILING IN AN AUTHORITARIAN DEVELOPING STATE: A CASE STUDY OF THE INDEPENDENT IN TRINIDAD By Cassandra D. Cruickshank December 2005 Chair: Sid Pactor Major Department: Journalism and Communications Why do some fledgling newspapers flourish while others only last a few years? What is the impact of press-government relations compared to economics, demographics, circulation, management, advertising, editorial policies, and ownership on their survival? This researcher chose to study the history of Trinidads Independent newspaper because of the unique circumstances that led to its formation. The Independent represented an integral facet of democracy in Trinidad. It was a rare forum for dissenting or non-mainstream voices, and held the possibility of a real expression of free speech without fear of government sanctions. From 1996 to 1999, as they tried to keep the paper afloat, the founding members of the Independent faced many crucial challenges. Some of the obstacles in their path were a result of direct pressure from the political administration (unwarranted tax audits, hesitant advertisers, and an arson attempt). But other problems besides government intervention compromised the papers survival. vii

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This research examines the fate of the Independent in order to better understand the factors that contributed to its brief existence and early expiration, and hopefully point to what its successors need to do if they are to endure. viii

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Purpose of the Study This study has a two-fold purpose: one, to examine recent attempts made by the government of Trinidad and Tobago to regulate the media, and two, to examine the effects other variables such as economics, advertising, circulation, demographics and editorial policies had on the survival of an independent news medium. Research Questions This thesis addresses the following research questions: 1. What has been the historical relationship between press and government in Trinidadian society? 2. What are some of the factors that have contributed to that relationship? 3. How did the independent press, in particular the Independent challenge or perpetuate that relationship? 4. What are some of the difficulties it faced and why? 5. What are the prospects for Trinidad having a truly independent press in the future? Research Approach This research adopted a tripartite approach consisting of 1. interviews with editors 2. content analysis of editorial themes in a 9 month sample 3. examination of government edicts, pronouncements 1

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2 Interviews with Editors To research this paper, four former Independent journalists were interviewed. The interviews were transcribed into plain text and analyzed for central themes. The journalists interviewed included Sunity Maharaj, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA), Maxie Cuffie, advisor to the Prime Ministers Policy and Media Research Unit in the Office of the Attorney General, Trinidad Express columnist B.C. Pires, and former Trinidad Guardian Managing Director Alwin Chow. Their experiences had as much to do with the Independent s content as it did with the papers economic and managerial modus operandi. The researcher asked the journalists not only what the governments reaction was to their fledgling paper, but also what the public, advertisers and other journalists thought of their attempt at an independent press. They gave valuable insight into how the environment, and their solutions to problems involving advertising, circulation and publishing houses, impacted the life of the paper. Content Analysis of Editorial Themes in a 9 Month Sample The Independent ran as a daily from November 26, 1996, to August 21, 1998. The Friday paper was the Independent s flagship edition, wrapping up the week and retailing for TT$2.50. On June 2, 1998, roughly the papers final two months of publication, the Independent went from publishing five days a week to publishing six days a week. There was no Sunday edition. The researcher constructed a representative composite month from the pool of editorials spanning this time period. For example, among 90 of the possible Mondays, a sample of five Mondays was drawn at random. Five Tuesdays were

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3 drawn at random from the available Tuesdays, and so on until 30 days including Saturdays had been randomly selected. The month was then examined using qualitative content analysis. According to Smith and Sparkes, this form of analysis focuses on central themes, typologies, or instances of paradigmatic categories within the telling (Smith and Sparkes 2005, 228). In other words, using this method of analysis, the researcher assumes the role of a typical Independent reader and attempts to interpret the sample of editorials the same way the reader would. When coding the editorials, the researcher created categories based on what this average reader would construe as positive or negative coverage of the government and/or the Prime Minister. She then analyzed the frequency of negative coverage versus positive or neutral coverage, and drew conclusions about the attitude of the Independent towards the government and whether the Panday administration was justified in its hostility towards the newspaper and the independent press. Examination of Government Edicts, Pronouncements The researcher examined attempts by the state to regulate the media in Trinidad and Tobago, by considering various newspaper articles and government documents. Among these was the Green Paper released by the Ministry of the Attorney General entitled Reform of Media Law: Towards a Free and Responsible Media (1997). Also analyzed were the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago (1976), the Freedom of Information Act (1999) and the draft Broadcast Code recently released by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (2005). Census data on relevant demographics, including income and education statistics for Trinidad and Tobagos population derived from the 2004 CIA World Factbook provided the researcher with a more precise background understanding of the Independent s advertising and circulation problems.

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4 The census data also shed light on the probability that the islands age and education structure might have affected the popular reaction to the Independent s editorial policies.

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CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Various Types of State Press Relationships Throughout the years, scholars have attempted to define various types of press and government relationships, but the associations outlined by Frederick S. Siebert et al. in his 1963 study Four Theories of the Press are probably the most well known. According to Siebert, there are four identifiable relationships between the media and government. The authoritarian system mandates direct government control of the mass media, and is practiced tacitly in many developing countries (Siebert and others 1963, 36). On the surface, the press can regularly criticize the establishment without fear of repudiation. But in reality, the government can strike back by threatening their advertising dollars, withholding information from journalists or even restricting their personal freedom (Siebert and others 1963, 36). The Soviet system in accordance with its communist roots is marked by publicly owned media organizations. All media employees are government employees, are tasked with promoting unity within the state and the party (Siebert and others 1963, 145). Top media executives are leaders in the Communist party, and media access is provided to active and loyal party members. Criticism of the party and government of a substantial nature is forbidden, and the repercussions are serious. The libertarian theory, also called the free press theory, specifies no relationship between government and media at all. The model assumes that the individual is free to publish whatever he or she likes. Attacks on the governments policies are fully accepted 5

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6 and even encouraged (Siebert and others 1963, 70). One former Independent columnist explained why this theory is the most desirable within a democratic society: Newspapers, if they are doing their job properly, give much more assistance than any politician can [hope for], because they provide a forum for free expression of ideas, and the best ideas will bubble to the top. (Pires, 1999) The theory of social responsibility is an outgrowth of the libertarian theory. In the late 1940s, a commission chaired by University of Chicago Chancellor Robert Maynard Hutchins expanded on this theory when it noted, It is no longer enough to report the fact truthfully. It is now necessary to report the truth about the fact (Hutchins 1947, 88). According to media scholar John Vivian, the Commissions report criticized the press for sensationalism, news selected for its entertainment value, lying by newspapers, cover-ups of the presss own scandals, the hunger for scoops, reliance on unidentified sources, reinforcement of group stereotypes, advertisements disguised as news, and, especially, concentrated ownership (Vivian 1995, 199). To combat those alleged shortcomings the Commission called for a socially responsible press. Its recommendations included: 1. Presenting the news truthfully, with context and meaning. 2. Offering a place to exchange comment and criticism 3. Providing a means to project opinions and attitudes of societys groups. 4. Presenting and clarifying societys goals. 5. Reaching every member of society. Editorials, columns, news analysis and letters to the editor offer a means to achieve some of the goals of social responsibility. In the 20th century, the United States has been at the forefront of news analysis and interpretation, in accordance with this theory. Reporters are encouraged to present the news with context and meaning, therefore

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7 encouraging the public in an informed decision. Publishing stories that include minority viewpoints or that reveal life outside the mainstream is another way journalists can reach every member of society. In a social responsibility system, if the media fail to meet their responsibility to society, the government steps in to ensure compliance. The government of Trinidad and Tobago is a self-titled democracy with a constitution that guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of speech. In the following paragraphs we will examine the historical relationship between the press and government in Trinidad and Tobago as it relates to Sieberts aforementioned theories. History of Press and Government Relations in Trinidad Trinidad History Trinidad is the most southerly Caribbean island, just seven miles off the coast of Venezuela. To the northeast lies its smaller sibling, Tobago, named for a kind of tobacco smoked by Carib natives (Lycos 2005). The Caribs were one of many tribes of Indians generally accepted to be Trinidad and Tobagos first inhabitants. The other tribes include the Arawaks, Chaimas, Tamanaques, Salives, Chaguanes and Quaquas. When European colonizers came, beginning with Columbus in 1498, European diseases and the rigors of slavery took their toll on the Indian population; by 1824 there were only 893 Indians left on Trinidad and today there are none (Island Connoisseur 2000). The Spanish ruled Trinidad until 1797, and during that period encouraged an influx of Roman Catholic settlers, including French-speaking immigrants and slave owners from the French Caribbean islands. The French introduced the sugar cane industry to Trinidad and began to import African slaves to work on the sugar plantations.

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8 In 1797 Englands Sir Ralph Abercromby captured the island, and the British colonialists usurped the sugar and slave trade (Island Connoisseur 2000). In 1807 when slavery was abolished, workers became scarce, and the British turned to indentured laborers from India and China to sustain the sugar cane plantations. In five years more than 140,000 Indians were imported to work in the sugar cane plantations, and although many returned to India when their contract ended, the majority stayed and made Trinidad their home (Island Connoisseur 2000). When the Chinese government insisted on return passage being paid for the Chinese workers, immigration from China came to an end. However, Trinidads history of motley immigrants means Trinis are a diverse lot of African, European and Asian heritage. The Press and Government in Trinidad and Tobago State control of newspaper publications is a trend started centuries ago when Trinidad was still colonized by British settlers. Michael Anthony, author of the book First in Trinidad recounts that Trinidads first English-language newspaper, the Trinidad Courant (1799-1822) was very much a government gazette . Government notices, proclamations, and ordinances were very much in evidence (Anthony 1985, 50). Its successor the Trinidad Gazette (1822-1825), also gained the reputation of being the mouthpiece of the British colonial regime. Trinidads first four newspapers, in fact, including the Port of Spain Gazette (1825-1897), and the Trinidad Standard (1838-1847), all backed the Government and the land-owning class (Anthony 1985, 53). John Lent, author of the book Mass Communications in the Caribbean explained that the balance of power did not equalize after independence (Lent 1990, 90). Trinidad Express columnist Raoul Pantin confirms:

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9 Every single government since Independence in 1962 has locked horns with the Press, the worst offender being our first Prime Minister, that national icon and hero, Dr. Eric Williams, who never was shy about his total contempt for the Press. (Pantin 2005) Dr. Eric Williams tolerated no criticism on the part of the islands newspapers. On April 22, 1960, he publicly burned a copy of the Trinidad Guardian in the nations capital (Siewah and Rampersad-Narinesingh 1995, 128). He routinely lampooned reporters at press conferences, or made snide responses to their questions, claiming they didnt have a clue what running a modern state was all about (Pantin 2005). In 1970, his administration drafted the Public Order Act. The press would have been one of the first victims of that repressive piece of legislation, recounts Pantin (Pantin 2005). However both the media and the public inundated the government with condemnation of the proposal and forced its withdrawal before it could become law (Pantin 2005). Five years later, in1975, half a dozen reporters, senior editors and producers were fired for standing up to a government attempt to censor the news . a shameful blot on the history of the free Press in this country (Pantin 2005). Recent Attempts by Government to Limit Press Freedom The press fared no better with Trinidad and Tobagos subsequent prime ministers. Criticism of the government was still met with ire. Dr. Williams successors may have been less autocratic and less disdainful of the press but every single Prime Minister thereafterGeorge Chambers, ANR (Arthur Napoleon Raymond) Robinson, Patrick Manning, Basdeo Panday and back to Manning againhave had their grouses with the press recalls Trinidad Express columnist Raoul Pantin (Pantin 2005). George Chambers, who succeeded Dr. Williams as leader of the Peoples National Movement (PNM) and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago had his share of conflict

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10 with the media. Although claiming that he would never tamper with the constitutionally enshrined principle of press freedom, Trinidad Guardian reporter Gail Alexander recounts that he often criticized the press for inaccuracies in reporting (Alexander 1997, 3). In 1981 he complained that coverage of his tour of the Caroni sugar factory made it seem as if he had a hostile reception. On another occasion an erroneous radio report led to the ominous observation that the station had not obtained its license yet (Alexander 1997, 3). Speaking to a gathering in the beach-front town of Mayaro, Chambers remarked that if residents accepted what they read in the newspaper without verifying it first the way he did, they would have a serious problem (Alexander 1997, 3). During the 1986 election campaign, he refused to speak at a PNM meeting in rural Arima, unless the local television crew left the scene (Alexander 1997, 3). Under his administration, PNM supporters pelted Trinidad Express journalist Ria Taitt with seeds, ice cubes and fruit, and accused her of being a NAR agent (working for the Opposition). PNM Ministers also accused the media of siding with the Opposition (Alexander 1997, 3). Arthur (ANR) Robinson was sworn in as the countrys third Prime Minister in 1986, and slowly but surely began to lose popularity with the public and the press (The Economist 1992, 35). His government inherited a bloated state bureaucracy and an economy in decline since the end of the oil boom in the early 1980s writes author Douglas Payne (Payne 1995, 30). Despite his austere guidelines for managing the national budget, devaluation, public-sector pay cuts, new taxes and rising unemployment only resulted in five years of negative press coverage for Robinson (The Economist 1992, 35).

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11 Racial tensions between blacks and East Indians also escalated on his watch. In 1989, his Indo-Trinidadian deputy, Basdeo Panday, led a faction out of the government and formed a new party (The Economist 1992, 35). In 1990, the Muslim extremist group Jamaat-al-Muslimeen kidnapped the prime minister and took control of Trinidads parliamentary building in an attempt to overthrow the government. The islands growing list of problems was seen as the product of poor strategic planning on Robinsons part, and sealed his fate as media scapegoat. In 1991 he lost the election to PNMs Patrick Manning (The Economist 1992, 35). The most notable conflicts between the press and government, however, began in 1996, with the Trinidad Guardian at the center of a highly publicized controversy. The countrys first East Indian Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday, had taken office in 1995. In a matter of months he made it clear that any criticism of his government on the part of the media was seen as racially motivated and worthy of extreme censorship. On February 2, 1996, he barred Guardian reporters from access to government information in an effort to force the papers owners to fire editor in chief Jones P. Madeira. The ban lasted almost a week. In April 1996, several senior staff members, including Madeira and managing editor Alwin Chow, said that the Guardian s owners, the Trinidad Publishing Co., had forced them to choose between censoring their editorials and resigning. Chow told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that Trinidad Publishing, either willingly or under government pressure, sought to appease officials by ousting the journalists. The chairman of the publishing company denied Chows charges. In May 1996, Chow, Madeira and several former Guardian journalists started a new weekly newspaper, the Independent

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12 The countrys fourth Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, lost two elections to British-trained lawyer and veteran labor leader Basdeo Panday before being sworn in as Prime Minister a second time in 2001. As Leader of the Opposition, Manning had been very vocal in his condemnation of the Panday governments draconian media policies. The country could now see where the irresponsibility of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General is leading us now, he declared upon Chows April 1996 resignation. The question (is) who next will bite the dust (Newsday 1996a, 4). But his administration has proven to be no better. As Trinidad Guardian columnist Anand Ramlogan remarked, Politicians all sing the same tune from the same hymn book when it comes to the media (Ramlogan 2004). On May 6, 2004, during the opening of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) conference in St. Augustine, Trinidad, Manning complained that the islands media were deliberately deceptive and regularly misrepresented valid news. The Trinidad Express quoted him as saying, "All is not well with journalism in Trinidad and Tobago. I have witnessed the lives of many people almost destroyed by careless and irresponsible journalists" (Ramcharitar 2004). On April 18, 2005, the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago released a draft Broadcast Code. It drew almost immediate fire from media workers and journalists throughout the Caribbean (Richards 2005). The Guyana Press Association (GPA) remarked, We view this as a very unfortunate development and an unbridled attempt to impose a draconian form of censorship on the media in the twin-island Republic in much the same way that authorities in Guyana have sought to impose similar regulations for media in the country" (Internet Express 2005b. The Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) expressed the view that the broadcast

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13 draft code . is designed to severely curtail freedom of speech and prevent the population at large from being properly informed or publicly expressing their views on various subjects (King 2005). The Green Paper and Press Freedom In 1997, during Pandays administration, Trinidad and Tobagos Office of the Attorney General introduced the controversial Green Paper entitled Reform of Media Law: Towards a Free and Responsible Media The paper asserted that because the free speech principle is grounded in the public interest, it must give way to occasion when the public interest points the other way. Among the reasons listed in the Green Paper as justification for the repression of the free speech principle were to secure a fair trial, to protect citizens against damaging falsehood or unwarranted invasion of their privacy, to prevent incitement to racial violence or breaches of national security (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 2). The Green Paper quotes Mahatma Ghandi as saying, The sole aim of journalism should be service. The newspaper press is a great power but just as an unchained torrent submerges the whole countryside and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 23). The Green Paper cites policies in Britain that pertain to the broadcast media. Radio and television have been placed under a statutory duty to ensure (a) that any news given (in whatever form) in programmes is presented with due accuracy and impartiality, and (b) that due impartiality is preserved as respects matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 21). The Green Paper then suggested not only the creation of a self-regulatory Press Council but a press ombudsman empowered by statute to receive complaints of bias,

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14 incompetence, unethical behavior or unfairness (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 23). This press ombudsman would have more authority than those in the United States, because he would be a High Court Judge and the wrongs over which (his) new jurisdiction would consist would be made civil wrongs. A Judge would have power to punish persons who disobey (his) orders (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 25). Trinidadian journalists were alarmed by the suggestion that perceived incompetence could become a civil infraction punishable by law. It is no secret that journalists in most Caribbean islands are underpaid and receive on-the-job training (Slinger 1993, 31). Peter Slinger reports, trained personnel, an essential production requirement, are in short supply on Trinidad and most journalists receive inadequate and infrequent training (Slinger 1993, 31). Examples of English-wrong verbs, bad spelling, and lack of clarity abound. The industry is one in which a new product not only has to be created every day but has to be created within a set of fixed deadlines which means that mistakes, misjudgements even, are regrettably part of the territory remarked one Express editorial (Internet Express 2005a). Five years ago in Trinidad and Tobago it was nearly impossible to find a journalist with an English or Journalism degree, or any degree at all. Today, their numbers are increasing, but slowly. Other suggested civil infractions included publishing information that imperils national security or undermines the democratic fabric (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 26). In discussing their alarm over laws that are worded in such loose-ended abstractions an Express editorial raised the question, Would such a law, had it been in place, have been used to prevent the publication of the contents of that celebrated meeting between Attorney General Ramesh

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15 Maharaj and the imam of the Jamaat-Al-Muslimeen, Abu Bakr? Might it not have been argued by somebody, with his own interests in the matter, that publication of the taped conversation would have imperiled national security and undermined the democratic fabric? (Trinidad Express 1997, 8) The Green Paper also outlined a code of ethics that immediately drew the attention of international media executives (Editor & Publisher 1997, 15). It states in part: Journalists and newspapers shall endeavour [sic] to highlight and promote activities of the State and the public which aim at national unity and solidarity, integrity of Trinidad and Tobago, and economic and social progress (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 26). The Green Paper also states, Journalists and newspapers shall avoid publication of reports and comments which tend to promote tensions likely to lead to civil disorder, meeting or rebellion (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 26). The seventh paragraph proposes, Newspapers and journalists shall refrain from publishing matters (including advertisements) which is [sic] obscene or is likely to encourage vice, crime or unlawful activities (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 27). Editor & Publisher magazine cites Owen Baptiste, editor in chief of the Trinidad Guardian, who commented that the goal of the government initiative was not really to make the press free nor journalists professional, but to have them both responsible only to the government (Editor & Publisher 1997, 15). Instead of promoting a healthy relationship between the government and the press, the Attorney Generals Green Paper was seen as advancing what is commonly referred to as developmental journalism. Development News or Press Control? What happens in Trinidad, politicians become independent and then expect what is called developmental journalism explained columnist B.C. Pires (Pires, 1999). Developmental journalism has come to represent government-controlled news to

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16 academics and journalists in the Western Hemisphere. An Editor & Publisher editorial stated, Popular independent newspapers are a special target of some sub-Saharan governments, who use the genteel code words of developmental journalism to justify their repression (Editor & Publisher 2003, 11). The debate rages on, but developmental journalism, as interpreted by Pires and others, is a brand of journalism which asserts that journalists in developing societies, like Zimbabwe and Trinidad, should not reveal wrong-doings or highlight misdeeds. Leaders of developing countries do not expect negative coverage. They see it as evidence of gross disrespect. Politicians will also happily ensure that newspaper publishers pay the price for their independence. During a 1998 appeal to supporters to boycott the Trinidad Guardian Panday declared, If a newspaper is working against your interest to achieve a better life, it is your enemy. No newspaper can survive without us. They all depend on us for survival (Siewah and Rampersad-Narinesingh 1995, 136). In short, developmental journalists are expected to provide uplifting reports of a countrys development plans and strategies. Positive journalism, Pires explained. Nation-building journalism (Pires, 1999). In keeping with this theme, in 1998 the ruling party, the United National Congress (UNC) introduced the new state-owned National Broadcasting Network (NBN) with the words, The key objective of the (Panday) administrations communications should be to persuade the population that the government cares, and is delivering benefits to the people (Gibbings 2). Dana Bullen, who served as Executive Director of the World Press Freedom Committee for ten years, commented on developmental journalism this way: In

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17 my view, it is tragic self-deception to think this will aid the people of a country or its development. Its been tried, and it doesnt work. Especially today, there are many examples of this fact (Bullen 1990, 15). Bullen quotes a noted Indian journalist, Pran Chopra, as saying: if there is any suppression of the truth under any kind of false notion of the obligations of the media, then very soon you will end up with a situation where you neither have truth nor nation-building (Bullen 1990, 14). Journalists in Trinidad and Tobago did acknowledge the Green Papers many proposals geared towards improving freedom of the press and quality of life. The Green Paper suggested modernizing laws still in effect that did not address current societal trends. For instance, the government introduced a proposal to update the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act of 1955, which is directed only against horror comics, and does nothing to protect children from the more recent evil of violent and sexually explicit videos (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 5). The government also suggested amendments to the Cinematograph Act of 1936 (which) sets up a censorship system for films, but not for modern forms of electronic communications (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 5). The Green Paper called attention to the need for revising, updating and amending media law . to bring it in line with the recent and remarkable advances in media technology (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 6). Our laws which relate to freedom of expression are old, vague and frequently anachronistic, states the Green Paper (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 4). In some cases, the unaltered laws have not affected the media

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18 substantially. A statute making it a crime of treason or a felony to agitate for a Republic has not been amended, but is obviously invalid (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 4). However, the Green Paper points out that laws pertaining to obscene libel and the law of contempt of court are still applicable in Trinidad and Tobago in their ancient, vague and unsatisfactory state, without reforms subsequently made in England by, for example, the 1959 Obscene Publication Act and the 1981 Contempt of Court Act (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 4). Laws such as these, the Attorney General stated, were in urgent need of updating. The Green Paper suggested that any new laws should include protection for journalists against punishment for contempt for refusing to disclose their sources of information (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 8). The Green Paper also proposed that the government implement laws that would prevent politicians from using their ministerial or governmental power to discriminate against a disliked publication or by giving commercial advantages to benefit rivals (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 9). The Green Paper suggested harsh punishment for racial defamation. Human Rights treaties generally make an exception to free speech when it is intended to stir up racial hatreds and violence . There is a strong case for making incitement to racial violence a specific criminal offence (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 13). Indeed, other countries, such as Germany, France and Spain, have already made it illegal to spread race hatred, and to defend negationist theories that deny the Holocaust happened (Ford 1998). Trinidad Express columnist George John concurred: No serious media person at any level in this country [would] have any objection to media guidelines that come down heavily on the promotion of racism in whatever form (John 2005).

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19 Because the language contained in the Green Paper had an undercurrent of media control, it incited heated public reaction. The government was eventually forced to withdraw the document. Panday also promised to curb his strident condemnations of the press, but in 1998, journalists and supporters took to the streets to protest continued attacks on them and threats to democracy (Freedom House 1999). Other Factors that Affect the Survival of Independent Media Editors and broadcasters of failed independent ventures worldwide can narrate stories of arbitrary arrests, detentions without trial, tax audits, and arson and assassination attempts. Inarguably, draconian laws and authoritarian systems make it difficult for these media to stay afloat. But according to Webster there are other factors that are equally important in determining a newspapers fate in a developing and often authoritarian context such as the Caribbean (Webster 1992): These are management, circulation, advertising, demographics, editorial policies, ownership, and government relations. We shall outline the importance of each of these briefly in the next section. Managerial Expertise Effective managers are born of training and experience, much of it involving trial and error (Webster 1992). However, a developing country is an economic environment unforgiving of slip-ups. One mistake could be the difference between life and death for a small newspaper. In Zambia, The Post is the only newspaper that withstood the pressure of a free market economy without government or religious financial interjection (Africa News 2004). The Post has shown its management ability to plan ahead, to read its economic environment, and to budget and plan accordingly reported the Africa News (Africa News 2004). Botswanas leading independent newspaper Mmegi made the strategic

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20 decision to increase production from one to four times a week, and doubled its circulation figures in seven short months (Index on Censorship 1992, 64). In contrast, in South Africa, the Nigerian-owned daily ThisDay did not fare as well. They changed publishers twice in one year due to an inability to fulfill the conditions of their [sic] contract, paid their reporters infrequently and finally suspended printing in October 2004 until all outstanding dues to staff and others could be cleared (Agence France Presse 2004). And in France, the leading daily Le Monde launched a weekend magazine aimed at women and younger readers that not only did not lure new readers, but repelled existing customers with its trivial content, and compounded the newspapers financial difficulties (The Business 2004). Advertising In general, paid circulation accounts for roughly 20 percent of a newspapers revenue (Ahrens 2005, F01). The sale of advertising space makes up the rest. The managing editor of Botswanas Mmegi credits 80 to 85 percent of his papers income to advertising (Index on Censorship 1992, 64). In the Caribbean, the figures are between 80 and 95 percent (Neptune and Richards 2001). However, advertisers are not plentiful, and conditions within the advertising market are steadily worsening (Index on Censorship 1992, 64). As many newspaper publishers can attest, advertisers prefer glossy magazines, radio and television (The Business 2004). Advertising expenditure is also susceptible to changes in the economy. When jobs grow, employers tend to buy help-wanted ads to attract applicants. When housing is booming, so do real-estate ads, and when retailers or auto companies are competing with each other for the attention of free-spending consumers, they also take out ads says Associated Press writer Seth Sutel (Sutel 2004). However, when the economic climate

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21 takes a turn for the worse, businesses may limit their advertising expenditure, especially if they are fearful that their other expenses, such as energy, fuel, insurance, interest rates, commodities and health care, are also on the rise (Sutel 2004). A newspaper with minimal circulation figures, or one seen as anti-establishment, would be even more hard-pressed than most to win the attention of a cautious businessperson. Circulation Newsstands are the main form of circulation for newspapers throughout the Caribbean. Some organizations, such as airlines, schools and hotels, subscribe to one or more of the major newspapers on behalf of their patrons, but smaller publications are distributed almost entirely by individual sales. Apart from newsstands and subscriptions, some publications are distributed via the post office. Obviously, this is an inefficient form of distribution that can result in slow deliveries (Webster 1992). Apart from the means by which newspapers are circulated, there are almost more publications than the consumer market can sustain. Some newspapers resort to sensationalism to draw customers away from their competition (Webster 1992). The researcher found several examples of such sensationalism in Trinidads newspapers. In a one month period, the front pages literally screamed for attention with words like fire, slash, crash, burned, stabbed, shot, and killed. But even these strategies fail to attract the new generation that is bypassing newspapers altogether for the Internet, radio and television. Circulation has been in decline for more than a dozen years, reported industry expert John Morton (Hundley 2004, Business 1D). And it probably will continue to decline unless some of these attempts to attract young readers prove more successful than likely.

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22 Demographics The physical characteristics of a population such as age, sex, marital status, family size and education have a lot to do with their acceptance of a new media. An older, more settled population will respond differently to independent media and the possibility of change than a younger, more defiant population. A financially secure, more settled household is more likely to read the newspaper than their struggling neighbors (Malthouse and Calder 2003, 2). A low literacy rate more negatively affects print publications than it would a television or radio station. Then there are the variables common to newspapers throughout the world: young people are accustomed to getting their information for free, through the Internet, radio and television. The Newspaper Association of America reports that in 2004, an average of 38.8% of those aged 25 to 34 read a daily newspaper, while the readership percentage for those 55 and over is 67.4 (Saba 2005). Newspapers in the United States have experimented with many strategies to woo younger readers, from publishing free community papers and special sections to utilizing colorful fonts and celebrity front page pictures (Gloede 2005). Editorial Policies Being a newspaper that is not tied to any political party or commercial interest has stood us in good stead, recounts Gwen Lister, editor of one of Africas successful independent newspapers. The Namibian consistently adheres to a clear set of ideals, and this has helped us steer our course, often through very stormy waters (Lister 2004, 46). A papers editorial policy can affect its readership. The Philadelphia Inquirer urged its readers to vote for Republican candidates, and their lack of objectivity cost them readers (Gloede 2005). The editorial policy not only affects circulation, but also impacts how the

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23 state and government relate to that paper. The government can easily kill a publication through limiting the supply of newsprint or presses, persecuting its staff or confiscating its assets if it doesnt agree with the papers content (Webster 1992). Ownership Most newspapers in authoritarian societies are owned either by the state or by private families (Djankov and others 2001, 1). Both groups can have a negative impact on press freedom and survival. Government ownership of the media is generally associated with less press freedom [and] fewer political and economic rights wrote one group of researchers (Djankov and others 2001, 1). Editor-in-Chief of Guyana's Stabroek News David de Caires added, The State should not own any of the media of information except through the device of an autonomous State corporation like the BBC in which directors, programmers, journalists and so on are insulated from interference by the State. Direct state ownership of the media is incompatible with a multi-party democracy and with the free flow of information. It puts enormous pressures on the staff to conform and to become the propaganda agents of the party in power. It makes for bad journalism. Certainly, especially in poor countries, the resources of the state must play a major role in developing the media, but this must be done in such a way that the politicians have no control of news content. (de Caires 2003, 73) Many governments use their financial leverage on the media as a way to control them. State subsidies and state advertising revenues enable governments to influence media content (Djankov and others 2001, 15) In Cameroon, for example, the state refused to advertise in privately owned press after critical coverage of government. But ownership by families or widely-held corporations can also be detrimental to the free flow of information and a publications continued existence. Controlling private shareholders get the same benefit from controlling media outlets: the ability to influence public opinion and the political process (Djankov and others 2001, 17). President of the Caribbean Association of Media Workers (ACM) Wesley Gibbings remarked,

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24 As a media workers representative, I often run afoul of media owners and managers who believe the agenda of media practitioners is necessarily the same as theirs. They are amongst the principal enemies of free press in an ironic kind of way. The over-emphasis on making money has been a discredit to the Caribbean media industry. (Pires 2005) In other words, even when an entity is privately owned, they may need to practice a form of self-censorship in order to survive. Government Relations The willingness of a countrys administration to tolerate the criticism of opinionated journalists is a pivotal factor in the survival of an independent medium. In Tanzania, journalists have been known to lose both their citizenship and their work permits through the machinations of a hostile government. In 2003 the countrys only independent newspaper Dira was closed by the Zanzibar government on unspecified national security grounds (Committee to Protect Journalists 2005). In 2005, the government banned political columnist Jabir Idrissa from writing, citing a rarely-enforced 1988 law to show that he was working without permission (Committee to Protect Journalists 2005). African governments have also used criminal libel laws and licensing requirements to conveniently muzzle the press. A 2003 Editor & Publisher editorial related, Since publishing an article in October suggesting Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was unfit to hold office, the newspaper Di People has been hit by a variety of "seditious" and "criminal" libel charges. On Nov. 4, the World Association of Newspapers reported, heavily armed police seized all the newspaper's equipment -right down to Editor Paul Kamara's car (Editor & Publisher 2003, 11). In Armenia, freedom of speech is specifically enshrined in the constitution: Everyone is entitled to assert his or her opinion. No one shall be forced to retract or

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25 change his or her opinion. Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech, including the freedom to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas through any medium of information, regardless of state borders" (European Journalism Centre 2003). In practice, however, newspaper content is controlled by political parties and the power elite. Because the majority of Armenians do not contribute to the circulation or advertising sales of the countrys newspapers, independent media are virtually non-existent, and a publications survival is contingent upon the goodwill of powerful political sponsors (European Journalism Centre 2003). The Caribbean island of Jamaica, however, is noted for its vibrant and free press (Henry 1999). Jamaica is home to three daily national newspapers, several regional papers, seven radio stations, three television stations and dozens of imported cable channels, as well as magazine and book publishers (Henry 1999). The government owns none of these media outlets, and journalists, whom the public holds in high esteem, are free to report on government activities. The next chapter takes a look at how these antecedents and factors influenced the birth and career of the Independent and ultimately led to its demise.

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CHAPTER 3 CASE STUDY: THE INDEPENDENT History of the Independent The journalists and editors who started the Independent walked out of their jobs at the Trinidad Guardian in April 1996, after the publishers terminated Alwin Chow, the managing director, and asked the remaining staff to stop writing stories critical of Prime Minister Basdeo Panday and his government (Pires, 1999). Three months prior, Panday had called on his supporters to boycott the Guardian and force the removal of its editor-in-chief Jones P. Madeira on the grounds that he was racist and that the Guardian was biased against the government (Newsday 1996b, 3). Former Guardian editor Sunity Maharaj recounted that Panday called the Guardian almost weekly to complain about articles that had been written about him or his parliament (Maharaj, 1999). The publishers of the Trinidad Guardian were understandably uncomfortable with the undue attention the prime minister was giving their paper. Pires stated that at one point Michael Mansoor, Managing Director of the Trinidad Publishing Company, would come into the newsroom and go through letters to filter out letters critical of the government (Pires, 1999). To that end, Chow related that the Guardian s board of directors wanted him to stop covering events of the Jamaat-Al-Muslimeen, a group of left-wing Muslim dissidents, to drop a column by former UNC parliamentarian Hulsie Bhaggan and to submit editorials for the Boards approval (Newsday 1996a, 4). His refusal to conform to a new editorial policy resulted in his almost immediate dismissal. But as he cleaned out 26

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27 his desk, so did nine other editors and journalists, who saw the sequence of events as an attack on freedom of the Press (Pires, 1999). Their resignation represented a level of ethics unheard of in Trinidad. People talk a lot about doing the right thing, and they dont do a damn thing, said Pires (Pires, 1999). Although a few journalists supported the actions of the former Guardian staff, the majority did not. The firing or resigning or constructive dismissal of the managing director of the Trinidad Guardian Alwin Chow, knocked all other news off the front pages of the Guardian and the Express As if everything else in the country dwindled to insignificance, wrote Ian Gooding, a Newsday columnist. Some people are taking their principled stands very seriously, as if they have no mortgages and car payments to deal with, and are threatening to resign. I wish them all the best and congratulate them on being excellent managers of their economic lives. (Gooding 1996, 8) An Express editorial announced, Whatever the construction Mr. Chow has put on the events, we believe that he understands that the right to decide the editorial direction of any newspaper lies with the owners of that paper. If he would not or could not carry out that policy as enunciated by the owners through the board, they had the right to dismiss him, constructively or otherwise. (Trinidad Express 1995, 5) As we shall see, the Independent had a difficult birth. High Start-Up Costs Starting a newspaper is not easy and requires a fair amount of organization and, more crucially, capital, observed Editor-in-Chief of Guyana's Stabroek News David de Caires (de Caires 2003, 74). Even using a 20-year-old reconditioned press and elementary typesetting and other equipment an expenditure of at least US $140,000 could be involved. In order to start the paper, the editors of the Independent borrowed against the retirement funds and credit union accounts of their founding staff. The initial investment,

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28 including all loans and personal mortgages amounted to US $165,000 (Cuffie, 1999). The majority of this went toward paying for the lease of the Trinidad Express printing press, paying the salaries of the junior journalists and securing office space for the fledgling newspaper and its staff. Small Advertising Base Advertisers look at two things: a papers circulation figures, and the image of the publication in the eyes of the public. Cuffie explained that East Indian businessmen, inarguably over 60 percent of the advertising base, refused to advertise with the Independent because of the perception of it being anti-government (Cuffie, 1999). In a Trinidad Express interview he added that the Ansa McAL group which owns the Trinidad Guardian and is one of the countrys largest conglomerates also declined to advertise with the Independent I think there was a certain amount of sympathy from the Syrian business community toward the Ansa McAL Group which meant that we did not get advertising from them either (Duke-Westfield 1998, 8). Without a steady stream of advertising revenue, the Independent was relying on its shaky circulation figures and its investors as their sole sources of income. Weak Circulation With a literacy rate of 98.6% (CIA 2005) Trinidad & Tobagos citizens are avid readers; the countrys media are in heated competition for their attention. Apart from the Independent one could find at any newsstand copies of the Trinidad Guardian the Trinidad Express the Probe the Punch the TNT Mirror Newsday the Tobago News and the Catholic News Newspapers such as Newsday and Punch are known for their sensational headlines, and in the case of the Sunday Punch sexy front page pictures. Individual sales are a

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29 substantial fraction of a publications circulation figures, so the objective for many papers is to attract the attention of the ordinary newsstand customer. With a staff of senior journalists adept in the clever use of English language, the Independent soon set itself apart from other publications. The Independent was cheeky. It had mass appeal, recalled Maharaj (Maharaj, 1999). But circulation figures never reached the break-even level. The Independent s daily circulation averaged 20,000, on a good day 23,000 (Duke-Westfield 1998, 8), just 11 percent of the daily newspaper market. In contrast, Newsday the second youngest daily, boasted an average circulation of 52,596 copies Monday to Saturday (Newsday 1998, 1). Weak Demographics The population of Trinidad and Tobago is a very racially diverse. According to the 2005 CIA World Factbook, East Indians make up 40 percent of the population, blacks 37.5 percent, mixed 20.5 percent and other races 2 percent. The median age is 30.91 years and literacy is high (98.6 percent). It is not surprising that a newspaper stigmatized by the countrys first East Indian prime minister lost almost half of its potential readers from its inception. In fact, the arson attempt at Polygon Printers Ltd, printers of the Independent was deemed by some to be racially motivated (Phillips 1997, 5). Hostile Editorial Policy The Independent was the first paper to report on the implications of the Green Paper, and well we ought to have been: we are the most under threat, if only by virtue of our size relative to the other dailies (Independent 1997a, 8). It broke the existence of tapes recording conversations between the leader of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen and the Attorney-General, irregularities in the award of the contracts in the airports expansion project, and a minister who waived the taxes on the import of Jeep Cherokees for his

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30 friends (Independent 1997a, 8). The government cited these stories as evidence of bias against the UNC and the government, and justification for their lack of cooperation with the Independent and its staff members. Ownership Changes By the time the first issue of the Independent hit the streets on May 9, 1996, the journalists responsible for its birth owned only 40 percent of the paper (Duke-Westfield 1996, 7). In August 1998, CL Financial bought the remaining shares and sold the Independent in its entirety to the Caribbean Communications Network (CCN), owners of the Trinidad Express (Trinidad Guardian 1998, 1). The CCN group kept the newspaper in publication for almost three more years. In a 1999 interview, then Independent managing editor Maxie Cuffie expressed optimism that with the CCN name behind it, the paper had a better chance (Cuffie, 1999). Hopefully the stigma with the Independent being anti-UNC and all of that will changeand wed be able to survive, he said (Cuffie, 1999). However, the ability of the publication to attract advertisers did not improve, and in April 2001 Craig Reynold, CCNs Chief Executive Officer, announced that while the product was essentially a very good one, it failed to attract the volume of advertising necessary to keep the paper afloat (Internet Express 2001). The Independent published its last issue on April 6, 2001. Poor Government Relations Former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago Basdeo Panday firmly believed that the islands newspapers depended on him and his supporters for survival (Siewah and Rampersad-Narinesingh 1995, 136). He found evidence of bias in almost every issue of the local newspapers, and encouraged his supporters to boycott several publications. In

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31 1996, he targeted the Independent for special antagonism, claiming that its reporting reflected both political and racist bias. He asserted that the media were polarizing the country and discrediting his leadership with its anti-UNC and Afro-centric agenda. To that end, he did not hesitate to castigate Independent reporters at every opportunity. Content Analysis of Independent Editorials The researcher examined randomly selected Independent editorials, from the time of its daily publication, using two forms of analysis. The 30 editorials were coded in view of their subject matter: editorials dealing with governments efforts to restrict the media were coded Restrict/Media. Coverage of the Panday administration was either coded UNC/negative or UNC/positive. Editorials dealing with social, non-governmental issues such as road safety, the police force, teachers unions or national holidays were coded either Social Ills or Social/positive. Editorials specifically dealing with the Prime Minister were coded Panday/negative (there were no Panday/positive editorials). References to the Panday government were coded under Panday/negative instead of UNC/negative because of the reference to the Prime Minister. As was mentioned before, editorials dealing with the police or teaching force were coded under Social Ills or Social/positive because the editorials contained no reference to the government. Examples of each are listed in Appendixes A through F. Six editorials did not fall into any of the above categories and were not coded. The category with the greatest occurrences was Social Ills (8). This is not surprising, since newspaper editors routinely comment on pressing issues that affect the community. But it was noted that this category occurred more frequently than

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32 Panday/negative (3) in light of the fact that the Prime Minister accused the Independent of targeting him for special criticism. The tables below illustrate the breakdown of the Independent editorials randomly selected for analysis. The first table illustrates the coding schematic, while the second table focuses merely on negative political coverage versus positive political coverage. The third table shows the date and title of each editorial that the researcher selected for this analysis. Table 3-1. Conceptual analysis of Independent editorials Subject Matter Occurrences Restrict Media 5 UNC/Negative 5 UNC/Positive 2 Panday/Negative 3 Social Ills 8 Social/Positive 2 Not Coded 6 Table 3-2. Positive vs. negative political coverage in Independent editorial sample Political Positive Political Negative 2 8 Table 3-3. Full titles of Independent editorials and coding schemes Title of Editorial Date Published Assigned Code A step forward for Public Service Reform Tue 12/17/1996 UNC/Positive Waiting to happen Wed 09/10/1997 Social Ills Restore Public Confidence Wed 11/12/1997 Social Ills Bound by the Constitution Tue 03/18/1997 Not Coded Probe those cops Sat 08/09/1997 Social/Positive Crossing the line Wed 07/02/1997 Restrict/Media The Singapore model of repression Thu 12/04/1997 Not Coded One year of Independence Fri 05/09/1997 Restrict/Media Full untruth Fri 09/05/1997 Panday/Negative Go after them Tue 10/07/1997 UNC/Positive

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33 Table 3-3. Continued Title of Editorial Date Published Assigned Code What now Mr Maraj? Mon 06/02/1997 Social Ills Speaker out of line Thu 12/04/1997 Restrict/Media Of rights and responsibility Thu 07/10/1997 UNC/Negative Banking on short memories Sat 07/05/1997 UNC/Negative Too many holidays Tue 04/01/1997 Social Ills Outright lies Mon 01/12/1998 UNC/Negative Think about the children Fri 01/02/1998 Social Ills Seeing red Fri 11/28/1997 Social Ills Something new Wed 10/22/1997 Not Coded No clear alternative Thu 12/19/1996 Not Coded On a dangerous path Mon 01/13/1997 Social Ills Message of Independence Sat 08/30/1997 Social Positive Life after Di Mon 09/01/1997 Not Coded Down to the wire Tue 12/31/1996 UNC/Negative Public service cuts a word of caution Mon 12/09/1996 Social Ills Media obsession Sat 01/17/1998 Restrict Media More lies, half-truths and innuendos Fri 05/23/1997 Panday/Negative Curb yourself, Mr. Prime Minister Wed 06/17/1997 Panday/Negative Clean up this act Thurs 01/23/1997 Restrict Media Leadership and credibility Sat 05/09/1998 UNC/Negative

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CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSION In a previous chapter, the researcher described in great detail the Four Theories of the Press advanced by media scholar Frederick S. Siebert (Siebert and others, 1963). The relationship between politicians and the press in Trinidad and Tobago seems to mirror the social responsibility theory. But more often than not, the established government reverts to the authoritarian system that it has historically been more comfortable with. While claiming to advance the ideals of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, politicians have simultaneously attempted to implement legislation that would muzzle independent media on the island. The UNC governments Green Paper Reform of Media Law: Towards a Free and Responsible Media is a suitable example of this fact. The office of the Attorney General pointed out within its pages that there is a need to amend many of the laws pertaining to the media in Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 4). This is true, but the undercurrent of media control was just barely veiled by the Green Papers modicum of positive suggestions. The notion of an uncompromising press ombudsman empowered by statute to receive complaints of bias, incompetence, unethical behavior or unfairness was one of the proposals that incited loud protests from journalists all over the country (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 23); and it is not hard to see why. Former Prime Minister Basdeo Pandays distaste for public criticism is well-known to Trinidadian journalists. He has been known to condemn all opinions contrary to his own as having a political agenda, and more often than not, a racist agenda (Ramesar 7). 34

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35 It was feared that the press ombudsman would have become just another way for him to harass members of the press. For instance, he could go through the paper every day and count how many East Indian writers were published, totaling up the sum every week for review by the ombudsman. Would an adverse number in any given week have been considered bias, worthy of punishment? Paragraphs that outlined a media code of ethics also drew fire from media professionals throughout the Caribbean. It was seen as the governments promotion of developmental journalism and a strong indication that the Panday administration was uninterested in fostering true freedom of the press. Lessons Learned from Studying the Case of the Independent Many factors affect the survival of a fledgling newspaper, including ownership, demographics, circulation, editorial policy, and more importantly the political environment into which it was born. On the surface it appeared that the Independent had a respectable chance at a continued existence. It was 60 percent owned by CL Financial, a stable and willing donor. It was published on an island with a high literacy rate and a young demographic make-up. The editorial staff of the newspaper was comprised of the most well-trained journalists in the country. And the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of speech. However, the reality of the Independent s situation was that corporate ownership led to them being sold to a bigger publishing house, one with a less confrontational approach to reporting. We cant be wild and outrageous, recounted former managing editor Maxie Cuffie (Cuffie, 1999). Before, you know, I put a story in the paper, I dont

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36 have to answer any questions[Now we] have meetings where I disagree totally with what theyre telling me (Cuffie, 1999). The Independent s consumer base shrank as its stories began to mirror those of its larger and more established competitors, and advertising revenue decreased proportionate to circulation. The Panday administration also continued to ignore the editors right to freedom of speech. Three of us were audited by the IRS. Maxie, Sunity and I were all asked to file taxes for the last six years, recounts former Independent columnist B.C. Pires (Pires, 1999). In the face of such complex pressures, it is no wonder that the paper eventually folded. The researcher concluded from her analysis of 30 randomly selected Independent editorials that the countrys newest independent publication was not biased against the government. The Independent did publish several editorials that were critical of the UNC and their attempts to restrict the media. However, they did not publish anything that was undocumented, or fabricate news for the sole purpose of criticizing the administration. Even reporters not associated with the Independent felt compelled to denounce the UNCs unprecented attempts to control the press, the calypsonians1, the dissenters of all stripes (Yawching 2000). In 1997, for example, one calypsonian sang a calypso titled Panday needs glasses. The song portrayed the prime minister as enamored with alcohol and blind to the corruption in his administration (Lashley 2004). Panday declared after the 1997 calypso season that he was going to make sure that kind of thing never happened again. The UNC government subsequently announced the decision to withhold State funding 1 Calypso is a style of music that originated in the West Indies at about the turn of the 20th century. Calypsonians typically use their lyrics as a form of social and political commentary.

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37 of any activity in which calypsonians sing lyrics deemed distasteful (Joseph 2000) and even proposed a bill, titled the Equal Opportunities Bill that forbade the dissemination of artistic works is reasonably likely, in all circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of persons (Lashley 2004). Trinidad Express columnist Selwyn Cudjoe relates that the UNCs propensity for corruption and media suppression resulted in negative press coverage from all Trinidadian newspapers, not just the Independent : For many, a UNC government symbolizes more lies, more distortion, more illegality, more corruption, more undemocratic practices and more indecency (Cudjoe 2000). And in a poll taken just before the November 2000 election, and subsequently published in the Trinidad Express 66 percent of the respondents acknowledged that the UNC government was blatantly corrupt (Ryan 2000). It is therefore not surprising that the Independent was seldom able to cast the new administration in a positive light. However, within the 9-month sample there were editorials that reported favorably on government actions or initiatives. In one editorial, the editors wrote favorably about a code of conduct agreed upon by the government and the Public Services Association calling it one of the few pieces of positive news on that front in a long while (Independent 1996, 8). In another editorial the Independent praised former president Arthur Robinson and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday for being so forthcoming with information regarding their failing health. These are welcome departures from the tendency to keep the public in the dark about official matters that has been part of our political culture for so long, declared the editors (Independent 1998, 8). The former Prime Ministers attacks on the fledgling

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38 newspaper seem all the more unfair in view of these examples, hence the conclusion of one Independent editorial: We implore Mr. Panday to give up the senseless, and entirely unjust, war he is intent on waging against the constitutional rights of the media. Both he and they have more important things to do (Independent 1997b, 8). The life and death of the Independent are reflections of the pressures editors of independent papers have to face in pseudo-democratic states. Although the fight for press freedom is a dynamic issue among journalists worldwide, local Trinidadians are not overly concerned. They are aware of the acrimony that has followed almost everything the press has written about Government actions (Solomon 2000). But as Pires explains, Trinidadians have a seven-day memory span: they will be angry and indignant for a short time, after which all is forgotten (Pires, 1999). The laissez-faire attitude of the general population is responsible for the astonishing brevity of public outcry in Trinidad and Tobago. The locals have resigned themselves to political wrongdoing (Trinidad Express 2000). If the public had objected to the governments treatment of the media more forcefully, the Independent staff may not have had such difficult experiences. On the other hand, it may take a greater international awareness of the rift between the media and government in Trinidad and Tobago to force the parties to find workable solutions to their problems. The islands administration does not want to be perceived as undemocratic or authoritarian, because such an image flies in the face of the new international penchant towards social equality and freedom. It could lead to sanctions, to a decrease in foreign investors, even to a decline in income from foreign aid.

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39 On the other hand, editors and journalists in Trinidad and Tobago should reflect on some of the tenets of social responsibility presented by the government, seeing it not as a threat, but as a suggestion.

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APPENDIX A INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED RESTRICT MEDIA Crossing the line Wednesday, July 2, 1997 The campaign of the UNC-led government against the media has now gone beyond the stage of complaints about lies, half-truths and innuendos, demands for the dismissal of journalists and draconian Green Papers on reform of media law. It has taken the form of an illegal attempt by the police, on the orders of the Acting Prime Minister, to seize a tape recording made by a journalist in the open and legitimate exercise of his profession. Journalist Anthony Hector, covering the visit of Acting Prime Minister John Humphrey to the site of a proposed hotel and golf course at Canaan, recorded an argument between Mr. Humphrey and Mr. Hochoy Charles, Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly. On Mr. Humphreys orders, a senior superintendent of the police attempted to take possession of the tape recorder and cassette, for the stated purpose of erasing the tape. Mr. Hector agreed to erase the tape himself and did so. A photographer from the Independent was also debarred from taking pictures of the incident. Mr. Humphreys action in ordering the erasure of the tape was arbitrary and illegal, as was the attempt by the police to carry out the order. Mr. Humphreys claim that the meeting was private has no validity. It was not in fact private, for the press had been invited to cover the event. But it could not in any case have been private in any meaningful sense. It is the job of journalists to run after ministers and record anything that they do that is newsworthy. Mr. Humphrey would not have objected to photographs or recordings if he had been kissing babies, assisting disaster victims or doing anything else that put him in a favourable light, whether the press had been invited or not. If he does not want his arguments with other politicians to be made public, he should conduct them behind closed doors. The security forces, for their part, cannot hide behind their political superiors if the orders they receive from those superiors are illegal. People were hanged in Nuremberg for disregarding that fundamental principle. All functionaries must be continually aware of the legal limits of their authority and act accordingly. Mr. Humphrey should have been quietly advised by his security detail that neither he nor they had the authority to do what he was proposing. This is quite apart from any advice he might have received from his political entourage as to the undesirability of losing his temper in public. Mr. Hector was under no obligation to surrender his tape to the police or anyone else, and was justified in resisting any attempt to seize it. We could even wish that he had not erased the tape himself, but waited for the police to take it by force. The charge of illegal seizure might then have been added to the suit for assault that Mr. Hector, in our opinion, has every right to bring against the police and perhaps the Acting Prime Minister. We await with interest the results of the investigation of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago into this latest incident of government intimidation of the media. Both politicians and police must be made to understand the limits of their powers. 40

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APPENDIX B INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED SOCIAL/POSITIVE Probe those cops Saturday, August 9, 1997 It is very gratifying that the enquiry into the police shooting of Stephan Pereira, Marcus Antoine and Lawrence Jobity should have been brought about by a public outcry. There are no doubt some among us who would be inclined to shrug the killings off with a good riddance. It is therefore heartening to see that so many of us, despite the constant menace of violent crime under which we live, find the idea of a police execution squad abhorrent. We hope the police hierarchy find it equally unacceptable. For some time now there have been ample grounds for suspicion that the police, frustrated at the acquittals and dropped charges necessitated by the intimidation and murder of witnesses, have taken the law into their own hands and begun to shoot suspects instead of arresting (or re-arresting) them. Even the reports of the police themselves on the incidents strain credulity. In the killing of Anthony Lizard Bridgelal eyewitness reports called the police version into question. Imran Ali and Bunny Bran, suspects in the murder of former Attorney General Selwyn Richardson, were also killed in separate incidents by the police. Bran and three others were outnumbered four to one by members of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad in four vehicles. In that case the polie claimed to find two handguns; in the case of Ali, one. In both cases, as in the La Paille killings, the men were said to have been under surveillance, and were supposedly on the way to commit a crime, not fleeing after committing one. In none of the three cases was there any damage to the police cars, nor was any policeman wounded, even though the police say they were fired on first. Even in cases of lesser notoriety, we have become accustomed to reading that the police see someone behaving suspiciously, approach him, find themselves fired upon, and, in an exchange of fire, blow the person away with no harm to themselves. It is routinely said that prisoners escaping half naked from prison vans or police lockups are dangerous and may be armed, an obvious prelude to shooting them on sight. However severe the problem of crime may become, the police must not be allowed to set themselves up as judge, jury and executioner. Not only would this destroy the rule of law and set at nought the principle of due process, but the next step could easily be police hiring themselves out as paid killers, as in Brazil. It may even be time for the police to tighten up generally on their use of firearms. Not just fatal shootings, but any incident in which a firearm is discharged should be the subject of an obligatory report and, if necessary, an enquiry. This in fact was the case in the past, before the police began to carry firearms as a matter of course. Professional bodies, and particularly the police, are notoriously reluctant to condemn their own members. The enquiry announced by the Assistant Commissioner (Crime) is to be an internal one. We sincerely hope it will be an enquiry and not a cover-up. The only way we can be sure of this is for the evidence and the result to be made public. Otherwise there will be a strong case for a permanent civilian police review board to investigate cases of this kind. 41

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APPENDIX C INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED PANDAY/NEGATIVE Full untruth Friday, September 5, 1997 Princess Dianas relationship with the press may have been an ambiguous one. Mr. Basdeo Pandays relationship with the press is perfectly straightforward. Everything is grist to the mill of opprobrium in which he seeks to pulverize the media. Including Princess Diana. And no occasion is too inappropriate for the Prime Minister to seize upon as an opportunity to vent his pet hate. At the Emancipation celebrations, he chose to do it before a visiting Head of State and our own President. He did it again at his Partys convention. Most recently, he has chosen as his forum the inauguration of this years School Feeding Programme, and as a pretext the death of the Princess of Wales. The accident in which Princess Diana died, Mr. Panday would have us believe, is an example of what can happen when the press indulges its tendency to publish anything about anybody. Governments, he argues, have a duty to protect their citizens against things like that. He did not say which citizens, apart from himself, had asked for protection. The link between the Princess death and her pursuit by the paparazzi is tenuous at best. The link Mr. Panday is trying to demonstrate between the activities of paparazzi and press in Europe and the media in Trinidad and Tobago is simply non-existent. He should thank his lucky stars that this is so. In any case, what the European press publishes as a result of the efforts of the paparazzi are photographs, not the lies, half-truths and innuendos Mr. Panday sees, but has never identified, in the local media. What they publish as a result of telephone interception are transcripts of erotic conversations, not the racially divisive material that Mr. Pandays overheated imagination purports to discern. Those who attribute Dianas death to harassment by the media are talking not of inaccuracy or libel but of invasion of privacy. Mr. Panday, to our knowledge, has never been photographed with a long-focus lens while disporting himself with a member of the opposite sex. Or if he has, the press has been too discreet publish it. Nor has he been overheard likening himself to a tampon or being called Squidgy. The complaint that the press had published too many photographs of him with a glass in his hand came not from him but from Wade Mark, and was proven to be quite unjustified. The complaint, that is, not the innuendo Mr. Mark was claiming to see. Mr. Panday should have limited himself to deploring the Princess death and extending condolences to the British Royal Family, government and people. In that, he spoke for all of us. To use the tragedy for political ends is shameful. And the population has not failed to notice that while he was exploiting the death of a foreign personality for his own cheap purposes, neither he nor any member of his government saw fit to make a statement on the death of Dr. Patrick Solomon, let alone attend the funeral. We implore Mr. Panday to give up the senseless, and entirely unjust, war he is intent on waging against the constitutional rights of the media. Both he and they have more important things to do. 42

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APPENDIX D INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED UNC/POSITIVE Go after them Tuesday, October 7, 1997 LEGAL AFFAIRS Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar must be commended for moving with alacrity to handle the most dangerous situation that has arisen in the Registrar Generals department of her Ministry. According to an exclusive report carried in the last Weekend Independent the Registar Generals Department, where all Government records dealing with births, marriages, deaths, land titles and other legal documents are filed, has been infiltrated by drug barons and other criminal elements. Drug dealers, according to the report, have been paying corrupt public servants to falsify, fabricate and duplicate their birth and marriage documents and have falsified land and property deeds. This in a bid to beat the new legislation which provides for the confiscation of properties and bank accounts of convicted drug dealers. The matter was brought to the attention of the Minister by the Registar General. Mrs. Persad-Bissessar then took the issue to Cabinet which has appointed a Task Force to deal with the problems. No doubt Governments desire to act would have also been spurred by the complaints of the foreign embassies, especially the Americans and Canadians, who, according to the report, have complained of the unreliability of local official documents. Mrs. Persad-Bissessar has stated that computerization of the countrys official records is one safeguard against the possibility of similar incidents recurring. She was, however, reluctant to commit herself to a promise of criminal prosecution for anyone found to have been involved with tampering with the official documents. While one can be appreciative of the Ministers desire not to preempt the findings of a final report, it must be obvious that anyone discovered to have compromised the integrity of the records must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It is the possibility of such strong action, and not the installation of computers, that will act as a deterrent. Like the police service, salaries in the public sector are relatively low and the corrupt public servants who have decided to augment their incomes by illicit means would have been more easily coopted because the chances of discovery and prosecution are so slim. Given the ease with which the drug lords have been able to penetrate the department housed in the same building as the countrys two Houses of Parliament, Governments decision to relocate the office of the Registar General is definitely a prudent one, as even those offices run the risk of being compromised. Mrs. Persad-Bissessars department may definitely be in need of computerization, but what is ultimately going to prevent anyone from accepting the blandishments of the drug barons is the high probability of detection and vigorous prosecution. It is up to the Government to ensure that these exist. 43

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APPENDIX E INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED SOCIAL ILLS Waiting to happen Wednesday, September 10, 1997 THE MOST striking aspect about the Chaguaramas accident that took the lives of four people was not the number who died, but that so many people survived given the circumstances surrounding the vehicular mishap. According to newspaper reports yesterday, the car in which the victims were travelling, returning home from a day at the beach in Chagville, contained 12 people. Toyota Cressidas like the one driven by Augustus Lewis, as taxis are licensed to carry five passengers. What on earth could have convinced the two adults who were in that car that it was safe for 12 people, even allowing for the fact that the other occupants were children with ages ranging from two to 17? But that was not all. Not only did they cram themselves into the car, but they did so with a driver who was admittedly drunk, and who had threatened to kill himself if they did not let someone else take the wheel. According to Ronnie Letren, one of the survivors of the accident, while on their way to Port of Spain, Lewis, the driver, began speaking of killing himself, his fiance, Brenda Simmons, and her daughter, Aschell. But the other occupants of the car took it as a joke until he drove the vehicle into a truck parked at the side of the road. Brendas sister Eleanor Simmons, went even further, and said that Lewis had been making similar comments while on the beach. She quoted him as suggesting that Akeen Simmons, one of those critically injured in the car, be allowed to drive or else I will kill myself, Brenda and her daughter. Akeen is only 13. It is easy on occasions like these to transfer blame to the police, the government or some distant party whose intervention could have prevented the tragedy. But as harsh at it may seem, the adult victims of that tragic crash must share some of the blame for putting their lives in the hands of a drunk driver with suicidal tendencies in an overcrowded vehicle. It is even more tragic that among the dead and injured are children who were placed in a helpless situation by either a parent or an irresponsible adult. If there are any lessons to be learnt from this tragedy it is that we should always remember that we hold our lives in our own hands. Given the rising incidence of suicide no one should easily dismiss threats by anyone to take their own life. Had the occupants of that ill fated vehicle taken up the drivers offer to pass the keys (although certainly not to a 13-year-old), the road fatality figure may have been four fewer today. Most accidents can be prevented by exercising the proper care and precaution. When however, people throw care and caution to the wind, a highly probable outcome is the tragedy we had in Chaguaramas on Sunday evening. 44

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APPENDIX F INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED UNC/NEGATIVE Outright lies Monday, January 12, 1998 What little credibility remains to the Panday government (as it was repeatedly labeled in the Minister of Finances budget speech) must surely have been exhausted by the lies told inside and outside of Parliament over Ken Soodhoos appointment to a post on the NP executive. Ambiguities, evasions and outright lies are obviously a prime weapon in the political arsenal of UNC Ministers. Sadiq Baksh claimed that Ernst and Young had approved the methodology of the airport contracts; Reeza Mohammed claimed IDB approval of his hiring practices, and smeared Wendell Mottley in the ADB bad debt row. Now, Brian Kuei Tung falsely assures the public that Mr. Soodhoos post was advertised, when the NP Board itself says it was not, and pours scorn on the very idea. The statements by Energy Minister Finbar Gangar and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Chairman of NP Marketing Company, though perhaps not outright lies, are as close to falsehood as makes no difference. Seepersad-Bachans claim that big corporations do not advertise their posts takes no account of the fact that NP is a big corporation only in local terms, and furthermore is a State enterprise. It also does not satisfy the public that Soodhoo did not create the post himself. In fact, the Boards release to the media strongly suggests that he did, for it openly states that it was Soodhoo who, while still on the Board, developed the project of which the job was a part. The most blatant example of misinformation, though, is the assurance given by the Minister and the Board that correspondence with First Citizens Bank showed Soodhoo to be clean. The Banks letter was in fact a non-reply to a non-question. Far from clearing Soodhoo, nothing could have been better calculated to stoke the suspicions of any potential employer really interested in the truth. That the Minister himself realizes this is shown by his remark that FCBs letter contained no evidence of wrongdoing that they were willing to share. A person who has been accused of embezzlement and fired by one State concern is not hired by another to manage $203 million of public funds, even if the job is a real one. Would Finbar Gangar, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan or anyone on the NP board hire such a person to manage their own money? Unfortunately, their casual attitude to financial propriety, and the admiration many in this country have always accorded to smartmen, suggest that they might. The Soodhoo appointment is also further evidence of the network of relationships, political and social, that plays so important a role in the management practices of the UNC administration. The record of the present government is littered with instances of Ministers (and all its members are Ministers) lying to Parliament, without censure and without apology. This not only reveals a basic weakness in our polity. It also leads the public to wonder what other misdeeds have been committed under cover of lies. 45

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LIST OF REFERENCES Agence France PresseEnglish. 2004. South Africas cash-strapped ThisDay daily suspends publication for a week. 26 Oct. Ahrens, Frank. 2001. Hard News; Daily Papers Face Unprecedented Competition. The Washington Post 20 February, F01. Alexander, Gail. 1997. George Michael Chambers 1928-1997 A Profile. Trinidad Guardian 5 November, 3. Africa News. 2004. Zambia; Strengths and Weaknesses. AllAfrica, Inc., 27 October. Anthony, Michael. 1985. First in Trinidad. Trinidad: Paria Publishing Co Ltd. Bullen, Dana. 1990. A Responsible Press. Trincom/90 Magazine. 14-16 January, 15. Business, The 2004. Even the Mighty Le Monde is Feeling the Pinch. Sunday Business Group, 3 October. Chow, Alwin. Interview by Cassandra D. Thompson. 6 Aug. 1999. Cassette. CIA. 2005. Trinidad and Tobago. CIA World Factbook. Internet. Available from http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/td.html ; accessed 16 July 2005. Committee to Protect Journalists. 2005. Tanzania: Zanzibar Government Bars Critical Journalist from Working. AllAfrica Global Media. Internet. Available from http://allafrica.com/stories/200506100924.html ; accessed 20 June 2005. Cudjoe, Selwyn. 2000. The Day of Reckoning. Internet Express. 10 December. Internet. Available from http://209.94.197.2/dec00/dec10/opinion.htm ; accessed 20 March 2001. Cuffie, Maxie. Interview by Cassandra D. Thompson. 5 Aug. 1999. Cassette. De Caires, David. 2003. A Free PressA Fair Deal. Starbroek News 5 March. Djankov, Simeon, Caralee McLiesh, Tatiana Nenova, and Andre Shleifer. June 2001. Who Owns the Media? World Bank and Harvard University. Duke-Westfield, Nicole. 1996. Journalists Launch Independent. Trinidad Express 3 May, 7. 46

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47 Duke-Westfield, Nicole. 1998. Independent joins a new family. Trinidad Express. 31 August, 8. Economist, The 1992. All change, again. The Economist, 4 January, v322 n7740 p35(2). Editor & Publisher 1997. Island Media Ethics Code Draws Fire. 26 July: Vol. 130, Issue 30. Editor & Publisher 2003. A Sub-Saharan Silence. 15 December: Vol. 136, Issue 45. European Journalism Centre. 2003. The Armenian Media Landscape. European Media Landscape (July). Internet. Available from http://www.ejc.nl/jr/emland/ armenia.html Accessed 20 June 2005. Ford, Peter. 1998. Cybernazis Use Web To Reach Into Europe. Christian Science Monitor. 26 March. Internet. Available from http://www.csmonitor.com/ durable/1998/03/26/intl/ intl.3.html ; accessed June 9, 2001. Freedom House 1999. Freedom in the World 1998-1999: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil LibertiesTrinidad and Tobago. Internet. Available from http://freedomhouse.org/survey99/country/ trinidad.html ; accessed 5 Mar 2001. Gibbings, Wesley. 1999. Journalists beaten while covering protests. The Online Pioneer: International News (June 5): Internet. Available from http://www.thepioneer.com/ international/international/june5_journalists.htm ; accessed 5 July 2005. Gloede, Bill. 2005. Black and White and Read No Longer. MediaWeek.com (17 January): Internet. Available from http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/departments/ columns/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000760160 ; accessed 20 June 2005. Gooding, Ian. 1996. Media Impasse will pass as some will pass out. Newsday 3 April, 8. Henry, Martin. 1999. Tax protests focus Jamaican medias role. International Communications Forum (Aug/Sept). Internet. Available from http://www.icforum.org/uploads/Jamaica%20Press%20Release.doc ; accessed 20 June 2005. Hundley, Kris. 2004. Circulation Con Game?; When newspapers fudge the numbers. St. Petersburg Times 19 September, Business 1D. Hutchins, Robert Maynard. Commission on Freedom of the Press: University of Washington Papers, 1947. Independent 1996. A Step forward for Public Service reform. 17 December, 8. Independent 1997a. One Year of Independence. Independent. 9 May, 8. Independent 1997b. Full Untruth. Independent. 5 September, 8.

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48 Independent 1998. Get well soon, Mr President. 12 February, 8. Index on Censorship. 1992. Botswana (The Press in Central and Southern Africa). April v21 n4: 64. Internet Express 2001 Independent bids goodbye. 4 February. Internet. Available from http://209.94.197.2/html1/prev/apr01.apr4/general.htm ; accessed 3 June 2002. Internet Express 2005a. Much to celebrate on Press Freedom Day. 3 May. Internet. Available from http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article?id= 75679149 ; accessed 19 June 2005. Internet Express 2005b. GPA concerned over T&Ts impending broadcast code implementation. 13 May. Internet. Available from http://www.trinidadexpress. com/index.pl/article?id=77514779 ; accessed 3 June 2005. Island Connoisseur. 2000. Trinidad and Tobago History. Internet. Available from http://www.caribbeansupersite.com/trinidad/history.htm ; accessed 28 May 2000. John, George. 2005. Media ethics and regulation. Trinidad Express 4 May. Internet. Available from http://www.trinidadexrpess.com/index.pl/article?id= 75891796 ; accessed 4 May 2005. Joseph, Terry. 2000. Carnival Story, Calypso Censorship. Sunday Express 27 February. Internet. Available from http://www.nalis.gov.tt/carnival/history_CarnivalStory_ Part7.htm accessed 19 July 2005. King, St Clair. 2005. Protecting the best of T&T. Internet Express 15 May. Internet. Available from http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article?id= 77819803 ; accessed 19 June 2005. Lashley, Lynette M. 2004. Intimidation of Calypsonians by the UNC Government of Trinidad and Tobago. PROUDFLESH: A New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics & Consciousness : Issue 3. Internet. Available from http://www.proudfleshjournal. com/issue3/lashley.htm accessed 19 June 2005. Lent, John. 1990. Mass Communications in the Caribbean. Ames: Iowa State University Press. Lister, Gwen. 2004. Managing Media in Times of Crisis. Nieman Reports. Fall, Vol. 58 Issue 3: 43, 6p. Lycos, Inc. 2005. Travel Destinations-Port of Spain. Internet. Available from http://travel.lycos.com/destinations/location.asp?pid=334815 ; accessed 19 Feb 2005. Maharaj, Sunity. Interview by Cassandra D. Thompson. 6 Aug. 1999. Cassette.

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49 Malthouse, Edward C and Bobby J. Calder. 2003. The Demographics of Newspaper Readership. Northwestern University. Internet. Available from http://www.mediamanagementcenter.org/research/reports/demographics.pdf ; accessed 20 June 2005. Newsday 1996a. Chow resigns from Guardian. Newsday. 2 April, 4. Newsday 1996b. Seven Editors Quit Guardian. Newsday. 3 April, 3. Newsday 1998. Newsday Tops Guardian Circulation Figures. Newsday 28 March, 1. Neptune, Peter and Peter Richards. 2001. Pressing Matters. Caribbean Executive Online. Journal of Business & Technology. 4 Apr. Internet. Available from http://www.angelfire.com/journal/executivetime/pressing.htm ; accessed 19 Jun 2005. Pantin, Raoul. 2005. The Price of Liberty. Trinidad Express Internet. Available from http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article?id=76618384 ; accessed 8 May 2005. Payne, Douglas. 1995. Democracy in the CaribbeanA Cause for Concern. Center for Strategic and International Studies. 7 April, 30. Internet. Available from http://www.csis.org/americas/pubs/pp/ppDemCarib.pdf ; accessed 29 May 2005. Phillips, Michael. 1997. Hands off the paper. Trinidad Guardian 22 October, 5. Pires, B.C. Interview by Cassandra D. Thompson. 3 Aug. 1999. Cassette. Pires, B.C. 2004. Thank God for the Express. Internet Express 3 July. Pires, B.C. 2005. Whip them, flog them, broadcast code them. Trinidad Express 1 May. Ramcharitar, Raymond. 2004. Media Malady. Internet Express 6 May. Internet. Available from http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article?id=22961540 ; accessed 19 February 2005. Ramlogan, Anand. 2004. Suspicious compliance. Trinidad Guardian 9 May. Internet. Available from http://www.guardian.co.tt/archives/2004-05-09/ramlogan.html ; accessed 29 May 2005. Richards, Peter. 2005. New Trinidad Broadcast Code Stirs Censorship Fears. IPS-Inter Press Service/Global Information Network, 11 May. Ryan, Selwyn. 2000. The SARA poll. Internet Express 3 December. Internet. Available from http://209.94.197.2/dec00/dec3/politics.htm ; accessed 30 March 2001. Saba, Jennifer. 2005. The Free Market. Editor & Publisher Magazine, 1 March, Features.

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50 Siebert, Frederick S., Theodore Peterson, and Wilbur Schramm. 1963. Four Theories of the Press. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Siewah, Samaroo & Indira Rampersad-Narinesingh. 1995. Basdeo Panday, man in the middle: a second volume of speeches. Trinidad: Chakra Publishing House. Slinger, Peter J.V. 1993. Print in paradise: a history of Grenadian newspapers, 1983-1992. Masters Thesis: University of Florida. Smith, Brett, and Andrew C. Sparkes. 2005. Analyzing Talk in Qualitative Inquiry: Exploring Possibilities, Problems, and Tensions. Quest Vol. 57, Iss. 2 (May): 228. Solomon, Denis. 2000. The lesser evil. Internet Express 10 December. Internet. Available from http://209.94.197.2/dec00/dec10/opinion.htm ; accessed 20 March 2001. Sutel, Seth. 2004. Economy clouds outlook for publishers. Associated Press Business News. 10 December. Trinidad & Tobago. 1997. Reform of Media Law: Towards a Free and Responsible Media. Ministry of the Attorney General: Port of Spain. Trinidad Express 1996. Intriguing moves in field of media. Trinidad Express. 3 April, 5. Trinidad Express 1997. Protecting press freedom. Trinidad Express. 29 April, 8. Trinidad Express 2000. Corruption taken too lightly. Internet Express 5 December. Internet. Available from http://209.94.197.2/dec00/dec5/opinion.htm ; accessed 20 March 2001. Trinidad Guardian 1998. CCN buys out Independent. Trinidad Guardian 22 August, 1. Vivian, John. 1995. The Media of Mass Communication. Needham Heights: Mass. Allyn and Bacon. Webster, David. 1992. Building a Free and Independent Media. Freedom Papers Series (August). Internet. Available from http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/ archive/freedom/freedom1.htm ; accessed 20 June 2005. Yawching, Donna. 2000. Making History. Internet Express 10 December. Internet. Available from http://209.94.197.2/dec00/dec10/opinion.htm ; accessed 20 March 2001.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Cassandra Debra Cruickshank was born on May 12, 1975, in San Fernando, Trinidad. She attended high school there and moved to Texas in 1994 to complete an undergraduate degree in journalism. In 1997, shortly after her marriage, she moved to Gainesville, Florida, and began her graduate education. In 2005 after having served four years in the United States Navy, she completed a Master of Arts in Mass Communications and continued her military career as a Navy journalist. 51


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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0012001/00001

Material Information

Title: Trying to go it alone and failing in an authoritarian developing state : a case study of the Independent in Trinidad
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Cruickshank, Cassandra D. ( Dissertant )
Pactor, Howard S. ( Thesis advisor )
Treise, Debbie ( Reviewer )
Walsh-Childers, Kim ( Reviewer )
Williams, Julian ( Reviewer )
Rosenraad, Jon ( Reviewer )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2005
Copyright Date: 2005

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Independent (Trinidad and Tobago)   ( lcsh )
Journalism and Communications thesis, M.A.M.C
Trinidadian and Tobagonian newspapers   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Journalism and Communications
Government and the press -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )

Notes

Abstract: Why do some fledgling newspapers flourish while others only last a few years? What is the impact of press-government relations compared to economics, demographics, circulation, management, advertising, editorial policies, and ownership on their survival? This researcher chose to study the history of Trinidad's Independent newspaper because of the unique circumstances that led to its formation. The Independent represented an integral facet of democracy in Trinidad. It was a rare forum for dissenting or non-mainstream voices, and held the possibility of a real expression of free speech without fear of government sanctions. From 1996 to 1999, as they tried to keep the paper afloat, the founding members of the Independent faced many crucial challenges. Some of the obstacles in their path were a result of direct pressure from the political administration (unwarranted tax audits, hesitant advertisers, and an arson attempt). But other problems besides government intervention compromised the paper's survival. This research examines the fate of the Independent in order to better understand the factors that contributed to its brief existence and early expiration, and hopefully point to what its successors need to do if they are to endure.
Subject: freedom, media, Panday, press, Trinidad
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 59 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2005.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0012001:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0012001/00001

Material Information

Title: Trying to go it alone and failing in an authoritarian developing state : a case study of the Independent in Trinidad
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Cruickshank, Cassandra D. ( Dissertant )
Pactor, Howard S. ( Thesis advisor )
Treise, Debbie ( Reviewer )
Walsh-Childers, Kim ( Reviewer )
Williams, Julian ( Reviewer )
Rosenraad, Jon ( Reviewer )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2005
Copyright Date: 2005

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Independent (Trinidad and Tobago)   ( lcsh )
Journalism and Communications thesis, M.A.M.C
Trinidadian and Tobagonian newspapers   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Journalism and Communications
Government and the press -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )

Notes

Abstract: Why do some fledgling newspapers flourish while others only last a few years? What is the impact of press-government relations compared to economics, demographics, circulation, management, advertising, editorial policies, and ownership on their survival? This researcher chose to study the history of Trinidad's Independent newspaper because of the unique circumstances that led to its formation. The Independent represented an integral facet of democracy in Trinidad. It was a rare forum for dissenting or non-mainstream voices, and held the possibility of a real expression of free speech without fear of government sanctions. From 1996 to 1999, as they tried to keep the paper afloat, the founding members of the Independent faced many crucial challenges. Some of the obstacles in their path were a result of direct pressure from the political administration (unwarranted tax audits, hesitant advertisers, and an arson attempt). But other problems besides government intervention compromised the paper's survival. This research examines the fate of the Independent in order to better understand the factors that contributed to its brief existence and early expiration, and hopefully point to what its successors need to do if they are to endure.
Subject: freedom, media, Panday, press, Trinidad
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 59 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2005.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0012001:00001


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Full Text












TRYING TO GO IT ALONE AND FAILING IN AN AUTHORITARIAN
DEVELOPING STATE: A CASE STUDY OF THE INDEPENDENT IN TRINIDAD















By

CASSANDRA D. CRUICKSHANK


A THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2005

































Copyright 2005

by

Cassandra D. Cruickshank















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to gratefully acknowledge the enthusiastic supervision of Dr. Michael

Leslie during this work. It was a pleasure and an education to work with someone as

knowledgeable about international media as he is. I would also like to thank Dr. Howard

Sid Pactor, Dr. Debbie Treise, Dr. Kim Walsh-Childers, Dr. Julian Williams and Dr. Jon

Roosenraad for their guidance and participation as committee members.

I am forever indebted to my parents, Clive Cruickshank and Veda Joseph-

Cruickshank, for their understanding, endless patience and encouragement when it was

most required. Finally, I am grateful to my best friend Terry Wilson. Sometimes I

thought he wanted this degree more than I did, but I am thankful all the same that he was

there to help me through the bad times.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iii

LIST OF TA BLES .................................................................... ............ .. vi

ABSTRACT .............. ..................... .......... .............. vii

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..

Purpose of the Study .................................................. ...... .............. .
R research Q uestions........... .................................................................. ........ .. ...
R research A approach ................................................. ...... ..... .............. ..
Interview s w ith E ditors.................. ... ....... .... ........................2
Content Analysis of Editorial Themes in a 9 Month Sample.............................2
Examination of Government Edicts, Pronouncements........................................3

2 L IT E R A TU R E R E V IE W .................................................................. .....................5

Various Types of State Press Relationships ........................................ .............5
History of Press and Government Relations in Trinidad .............................................7
T rinidad H history ............................................. ... ... .. .......... .. .. ...... .. 7
The Press and Government in Trinidad and Tobago...........................................8
Recent Attempts by Government to Limit Press Freedom................................
The Green Paper and Press Freedom .............................................. ......... ...... 13
D evelopm ent N ew s or Press Control? .............. ............. .. ............ .................... 15
Other Factors that Affect the Survival of Independent Media ...............................19
M an ag erial E x p ertise ................................................................ ..................... 19
A dv ertising ........................................................................20
C circulation ..................................................................................................2 1
D em graphics ............................................ 22
E d ito rial P o licie s ........................................................................................... 2 2
O w n e rsh ip ....................................................................................2 3
G ov ernm ent R elation s ................................................................................... 24

3 CASE STUDY: THE INDEPENDENT ........................................ ............... 26

H history of the Independent .............................................................. ...............26









H igh Start-U p C osts ................................................. ............................... 27
Sm all A advertising B ase ......................................................... .............. 28
W eak C circulation .......... ..... ........................................................... ... .... ... ... 28
W eak D em graphics ........................................ .............................................2 9
H hostile E editorial P olicy ............................................... ............................ 29
O w nership C hanges............ .......................................................... .. .... .... ... 30
Poor G overnm ent R relations ........................................ .......................... 30
Content Analysis of Independent Editorials...........................................................31

4 C O N C L U SIO N ......... ......................................................................... ........ .. ..... .. 34

APPENDIX

A INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'RESTRICT MEDIA'..............................40

B INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'SOCIAL/POSITIVE' .............................41

C INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'PANDAY/NEGATIVE'........................42

D INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'UNC/POSITIVE' ..................................43

E INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'SOCIAL ILLS'.......................................44

F INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'UNC/NEGATIVE' ................................45

L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S ......... .. ............. ................................................................46

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .. ..................................... ............. 51
















LIST OF TABLES

Table p

3-1 Conceptual analysis of Independent editorials.......................... .... ............... 32

3-2 Positive vs. negative political coverage in Independent editorial sample...............32

3-3 Full titles of Independent editorials and coding schemes .............. ..................32















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication

TRYING TO GO IT ALONE AND FAILING IN AN AUTHORITARIAN
DEVELOPING STATE: A CASE STUDY OF THE INDEPENDENT IN TRINIDAD


By

Cassandra D. Cruickshank

December 2005

Chair: Sid Pactor
Major Department: Journalism and Communications

Why do some fledgling newspapers flourish while others only last a few years?

What is the impact of press-government relations compared to economics, demographics,

circulation, management, advertising, editorial policies, and ownership on their survival?

This researcher chose to study the history of Trinidad's Independent newspaper

because of the unique circumstances that led to its formation. The Independent

represented an integral facet of democracy in Trinidad. It was a rare forum for dissenting

or non-mainstream voices, and held the possibility of a real expression of free speech

without fear of government sanctions.

From 1996 to 1999, as they tried to keep the paper afloat, the founding members of

the Independent faced many crucial challenges. Some of the obstacles in their path were a

result of direct pressure from the political administration (unwarranted tax audits, hesitant

advertisers, and an arson attempt). But other problems besides government intervention

compromised the paper's survival.









This research examines the fate of the Independent in order to better understand the

factors that contributed to its brief existence and early expiration, and hopefully point to

what its successors need to do if they are to endure.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Purpose of the Study

This study has a two-fold purpose: one, to examine recent attempts made by the

government of Trinidad and Tobago to regulate the media, and two, to examine the

effects other variables such as economics, advertising, circulation, demographics and

editorial policies had on the survival of an independent news medium.

Research Questions

This thesis addresses the following research questions:

1. What has been the historical relationship between press and government in
Trinidadian society?

2. What are some of the factors that have contributed to that relationship?

3. How did the independent press, in particular the Independent, challenge or
perpetuate that relationship?

4. What are some of the difficulties it faced and why?

5. What are the prospects for Trinidad having a truly independent press in the future?

Research Approach

This research adopted a tripartite approach consisting of

1. interviews with editors

2. content analysis of editorial themes in a 9 month sample

3. examination of government edicts, pronouncements









Interviews with Editors

To research this paper, four former Independent journalists were interviewed. The

interviews were transcribed into plain text and analyzed for central themes. The

journalists interviewed included Sunity Maharaj, Executive Director of the

Commonwealth Journalists' Association (CJA), Maxie Cuffie, advisor to the Prime

Minister's Policy and Media Research Unit in the Office of the Attorney General,

Trinidad Express columnist B.C. Pires, and former Trinidad Guardian Managing Director

Alwin Chow. Their experiences had as much to do with the Independent's content as it

did with the paper's economic and managerial modus operandi.

The researcher asked the journalists not only what the government's reaction was

to their fledgling paper, but also what the public, advertisers and other journalists thought

of their attempt at an independent press. They gave valuable insight into how the

environment, and their solutions to problems involving advertising, circulation and

publishing houses, impacted the life of the paper.

Content Analysis of Editorial Themes in a 9 Month Sample

The Independent ran as a daily from November 26, 1996, to August 21, 1998. The

Friday paper was the Independent's flagship edition, wrapping up the week and retailing

for TT$2.50.

On June 2, 1998, roughly the paper's final two months of publication, the

Independent went from publishing five days a week to publishing six days a week. There

was no Sunday edition. The researcher constructed a representative composite month

from the pool of editorials spanning this time period. For example, among 90 of the

possible Mondays, a sample of five Mondays was drawn at random. Five Tuesdays were









drawn at random from the available Tuesdays, and so on until 30 days including

Saturday had been randomly selected.

The month was then examined using qualitative content analysis. According to

Smith and Sparkes, this form of analysis focuses on "central themes, typologies, or

instances of paradigmatic categories within the telling" (Smith and Sparkes 2005, 228).

In other words, using this method of analysis, the researcher assumes the role of a typical

Independent reader and attempts to interpret the sample of editorials the same way the

reader would. When coding the editorials, the researcher created categories based on

what this average reader would construe as positive or negative coverage of the

government and/or the Prime Minister. She then analyzed the frequency of negative

coverage versus positive or neutral coverage, and drew conclusions about the attitude of

the Independent towards the government and whether the Panday administration was

justified in its hostility towards the newspaper and the independent press.

Examination of Government Edicts, Pronouncements

The researcher examined attempts by the state to regulate the media in Trinidad and

Tobago, by considering various newspaper articles and government documents. Among

these was the Green Paper released by the Ministry of the Attorney General entitled

Reform of Media Law: Towards a Free and Responsible Media (1997). Also analyzed

were the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago (1976), the Freedom of Information Act

(1999) and the draft Broadcast Code recently released by the Telecommunications

Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (2005). Census data on relevant demographics,

including income and education statistics for Trinidad and Tobago's population derived

from the 2004 CIA World Factbook provided the researcher with a more precise

background understanding of the Independent's advertising and circulation problems.






4


The census data also shed light on the probability that the island's age and education

structure might have affected the popular reaction to the Independent's editorial policies.














CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

Various Types of State Press Relationships

Throughout the years, scholars have attempted to define various types of press and

government relationships, but the associations outlined by Frederick S. Siebert et al. in

his 1963 study Four Theories of the Press are probably the most well known.

According to Siebert, there are four identifiable relationships between the media

and government. The authoritarian system mandates direct government control of the

mass media, and is practiced tacitly in many developing countries (Siebert and others

1963, 36). On the surface, the press can regularly criticize the establishment without fear

of repudiation. But in reality, the government can strike back by threatening their

advertising dollars, withholding information from journalists or even restricting their

personal freedom (Siebert and others 1963, 36).

The Soviet system in accordance with its communist roots is marked by publicly

owned media organizations. All media employees are government employees, are tasked

with promoting unity within the state and the party (Siebert and others 1963, 145). Top

media executives are leaders in the Communist party, and media access is provided to

active and loyal party members. Criticism of the party and government of a substantial

nature is forbidden, and the repercussions are serious.

The libertarian theory, also called the free press theory, specifies no relationship

between government and media at all. The model assumes that the individual is free to

publish whatever he or she likes. Attacks on the government's policies are fully accepted









and even encouraged (Siebert and others 1963, 70). One former Independent columnist

explained why this theory is the most desirable within a democratic society:

Newspapers, if they are doing their job properly, give much more assistance than
any politician can [hope for], because they provide a forum for free expression of
ideas, and the best ideas will bubble to the top. (Pires, 1999)

The theory of social responsibility is an outgrowth of the libertarian theory. In the

late 1940's, a commission chaired by University of Chicago Chancellor Robert Maynard

Hutchins expanded on this theory when it noted, "It is no longer enough to report thefact

truthfully. It is now necessary to report the 1i inh/ about the fact" (Hutchins 1947, 88).

According to media scholar John Vivian, the Commission's report criticized the

press for "sensationalism, news selected for its entertainment value, 'lying' by

newspapers, cover-ups of the press's own scandals, the hunger for scoops, reliance on

unidentified sources, reinforcement of group stereotypes, advertisements disguised as

news, and, especially, concentrated ownership" (Vivian 1995, 199). To combat those

alleged shortcomings the Commission called for a socially responsible press. Its

recommendations included:

1. Presenting the news truthfully, with context and meaning.

2. Offering a place to exchange comment and criticism

3. Providing a means to project opinions and attitudes of society's groups.

4. Presenting and clarifying society's goals.

5. Reaching every member of society.

Editorials, columns, news analysis and letters to the editor offer a means to achieve

some of the goals of social responsibility. In the 20th century, the United States has been

at the forefront of news analysis and interpretation, in accordance with this theory.

Reporters are encouraged to present the news "with context and meaning," therefore









encouraging the public in an informed decision. Publishing stories that include minority

viewpoints or that reveal life outside the mainstream is another way journalists can

"reach every member of society."

In a social responsibility system, if the media fail to meet their responsibility to

society, the government steps in to ensure compliance. The government of Trinidad and

Tobago is a self-titled democracy with a constitution that guarantees freedom of

expression and freedom of speech. In the following paragraphs we will examine the

historical relationship between the press and government in Trinidad and Tobago as it

relates to Siebert's aforementioned theories.

History of Press and Government Relations in Trinidad

Trinidad History

Trinidad is the most southerly Caribbean island, just seven miles off the coast of

Venezuela. To the northeast lies its smaller sibling, Tobago, named for a kind of tobacco

smoked by Carib natives (Lycos 2005). The Caribs were one of many tribes of Indians

generally accepted to be Trinidad and Tobago's first inhabitants. The other tribes include

the Arawaks, Chaimas, Tamanaques, Salives, Chaguanes and Quaquas. When European

colonizers came, beginning with Columbus in 1498, European diseases and the rigors of

slavery took their toll on the Indian population; by 1824 there were only 893 Indians left

on Trinidad and today there are none (Island Connoisseur 2000).

The Spanish ruled Trinidad until 1797, and during that period encouraged an influx

of Roman Catholic settlers, including French-speaking immigrants and slave owners

from the French Caribbean islands. The French introduced the sugar cane industry to

Trinidad and began to import African slaves to work on the sugar plantations.









In 1797 England's Sir Ralph Abercromby captured the island, and the British

colonialists usurped the sugar and slave trade (Island Connoisseur 2000). In 1807 when

slavery was abolished, workers became scarce, and the British turned to indentured

laborers from India and China to sustain the sugar cane plantations. In five years more

than 140,000 Indians were imported to work in the sugar cane plantations, and although

many returned to India when their contract ended, the majority stayed and made Trinidad

their home (Island Connoisseur 2000). When the Chinese government insisted on return

passage being paid for the Chinese workers, immigration from China came to an end.

However, Trinidad's history of motley immigrants means "Trinis" are a diverse lot of

African, European and Asian heritage.

The Press and Government in Trinidad and Tobago

State control of newspaper publications is a trend started centuries ago when

Trinidad was still colonized by British settlers. Michael Anthony, author of the book First

in Trinidad, recounts that Trinidad's first English-language newspaper, the Trinidad

Courant (1799-1822) was "very much a government gazette ... Government notices,

proclamations, and ordinances were very much in evidence" (Anthony 1985, 50). Its

successor the Trinidad Gazette (1822-1825), also gained the reputation of being the

mouthpiece of the British colonial regime. Trinidad's first four newspapers, in fact,

including the Port of Spain Gazette (1825-1897), and the Trinidad Standard (1838-1847),

all backed the Government and the land-owning class (Anthony 1985, 53).

John Lent, author of the book Mass Communications in the Caribbean explained

that the balance of power did not equalize after independence (Lent 1990, 90). Trinidad

Express columnist Raoul Pantin confirms:









Every single government since Independence in 1962 has locked horns with the
Press, the worst offender being our first Prime Minister, that national icon and hero,
Dr. Eric Williams, who never was shy about his total contempt for the Press.
(Pantin 2005)

Dr. Eric Williams tolerated no criticism on the part of the island's newspapers. On

April 22, 1960, he publicly burned a copy of the Trinidad Guardian in the nation's capital

(Siewah and Rampersad-Narinesingh 1995, 128). He routinely lampooned reporters at

press conferences, or made snide responses to their questions, claiming they "didn't have

a clue what running a modem state was all about" (Pantin 2005).

In 1970, his administration drafted the Public Order Act. "The press would have

been one of the first victims of that repressive piece of legislation," recounts Pantin

(Pantin 2005). However both the media and the public inundated the government with

condemnation of the proposal and forced its withdrawal before it could become law

(Pantin 2005). Five years later, in1975, half a dozen reporters, senior editors and

producers were fired "for standing up to a government attempt to censor the news ... a

shameful blot on the history of the free Press in this country" (Pantin 2005).

Recent Attempts by Government to Limit Press Freedom

The press fared no better with Trinidad and Tobago's subsequent prime ministers.

Criticism of the government was still met with ire. "Dr. Williams' successors may have

been less autocratic and less disdainful of the press but every single Prime Minister

thereafter-George Chambers, ANR (Arthur Napoleon Raymond) Robinson, Patrick

Manning, Basdeo Panday and back to Manning again-have had their grouses with the

press" recalls Trinidad Express columnist Raoul Pantin (Pantin 2005).

George Chambers, who succeeded Dr. Williams as leader of the People's National

Movement (PNM) and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago had his share of conflict









with the media. Although claiming that he would never tamper with the constitutionally

enshrined principle of press freedom, Trinidad Guardian reporter Gail Alexander

recounts that he often criticized the press for inaccuracies in reporting (Alexander 1997,

3). In 1981 he complained that coverage of his tour of the Caroni sugar factory made it

seem as if he had a hostile reception. On another occasion an erroneous radio report led

to the ominous observation that the station "had not obtained its license yet" (Alexander

1997,3).

Speaking to a gathering in the beach-front town of Mayaro, Chambers remarked

that if residents accepted what they read in the newspaper without verifying it first the

way he did, "they would have a serious problem" (Alexander 1997, 3). During the 1986

election campaign, he refused to speak at a PNM meeting in rural Arima, unless the local

television crew left the scene (Alexander 1997, 3). Under his administration, PNM

supporters pelted Trinidad Express journalist Ria Taitt with seeds, ice cubes and fruit,

and accused her of being "a NAR agent" (working for the Opposition). PNM Ministers

also accused the media of siding with the Opposition (Alexander 1997, 3).

Arthur (ANR) Robinson was sworn in as the country's third Prime Minister in

1986, and slowly but surely began to lose popularity with the public and the press (The

Economist 1992, 35). His government "inherited a bloated state bureaucracy and an

economy in decline since the end of the oil boom in the early 1980s" writes author

Douglas Payne (Payne 1995, 30). Despite his austere guidelines for managing the

national budget, devaluation, public-sector pay cuts, new taxes and rising unemployment

only resulted in five years of negative press coverage for Robinson (The Economist 1992,

35).









Racial tensions between blacks and East Indians also escalated on his watch. In

1989, his Indo-Trinidadian deputy, Basdeo Panday, led a faction out of the government

and formed a new party (The Economist 1992, 35). In 1990, the Muslim extremist group

Jamaat-al-Muslimeen kidnapped the prime minister and took control of Trinidad's

parliamentary building in an attempt to overthrow the government. The island's growing

list of problems was seen as the product of poor strategic planning on Robinson's part,

and sealed his fate as media scapegoat. In 1991 he lost the election to PNM's Patrick

Manning (The Economist 1992, 35).

The most notable conflicts between the press and government, however, began in

1996, with the Trinidad Guardian at the center of a highly publicized controversy. The

country's first East Indian Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday, had taken office in 1995. In a

matter of months he made it clear that any criticism of his government on the part of the

media was seen as racially motivated and worthy of extreme censorship. On February 2,

1996, he barred Guardian reporters from access to government information in an effort to

force the paper's owners to fire editor in chief Jones P. Madeira. The ban lasted almost a

week.

In April 1996, several senior staff members, including Madeira and managing

editor Alwin Chow, said that the Guardian's owners, the Trinidad Publishing Co., had

forced them to choose between censoring their editorials and resigning. Chow told the

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that Trinidad Publishing, either willingly or under

government pressure, sought to appease officials by ousting the journalists. The chairman

of the publishing company denied Chow's charges. In May 1996, Chow, Madeira and

several former Guardian journalists started a new weekly newspaper, the Independent.









The country's fourth Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, lost two elections to British-

trained lawyer and veteran labor leader Basdeo Panday before being sworn in as Prime

Minister a second time in 2001. As Leader of the Opposition, Manning had been very

vocal in his condemnation of the Panday government's draconian media policies. "The

country could now see where the irresponsibility of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-

General is leading us now," he declared upon Chow's April 1996 resignation. "The

question (is) who next will bite the dust" (Newsday 1996a, 4).

But his administration has proven to be no better. As Trinidad Guardian columnist

Anand Ramlogan remarked, "Politicians all sing the same tune from the same hymn book

when it comes to the media" (Ramlogan 2004). On May 6, 2004, during the opening of

the Commonwealth Journalists' Association (CJA) conference in St. Augustine, Trinidad,

Manning complained that the islands' media were deliberately deceptive and regularly

misrepresented valid news. The Trinidad Express quoted him as saying, "All is not well

with journalism in Trinidad and Tobago. I have witnessed the lives of many people

almost destroyed by careless and irresponsible journalists" (Ramcharitar 2004).

On April 18, 2005, the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago

released a draft Broadcast Code. It drew almost immediate fire from media workers and

journalists throughout the Caribbean (Richards 2005). The Guyana Press Association

(GPA) remarked, "We view this as a very unfortunate development and an unbridled

attempt to impose a draconian form of censorship on the media in the twin-island

Republic in much the same way that authorities in Guyana have sought to impose similar

regulations for media in the country" (Internet Express 2005b. The Trinidad and Tobago

Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) expressed the view that "the broadcast









draft code ... is designed to severely curtail freedom of speech and prevent the

population at large from being properly informed or publicly expressing their views on

various subjects" (King 2005).

The Green Paper and Press Freedom

In 1997, during Panday's administration, Trinidad and Tobago's Office of the

Attorney General introduced the controversial Green Paper entitled Reform of Media

Law: Towards a Free and Responsible Media. The paper asserted that because the free

speech principle is grounded in the public interest, it must give way to occasion when the

public interest points the other way. Among the reasons listed in the Green Paper as

justification for the repression of the free speech principle were "to secure a fair trial, to

protect citizens against damaging falsehood or unwarranted invasion of their privacy, to

prevent incitement to racial violence or breaches of national security" (Trinidad &

Tobago 1997, 2).

The Green Paper quotes Mahatma Ghandi as saying, "The sole aim of journalism

should be service. The newspaper press is a great power but just as an unchained torrent

submerges the whole countryside and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen

serves but to destroy" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 23).

The Green Paper cites policies in Britain that pertain to the broadcast media.

"Radio and television have been placed under a statutory duty to ensure (a) that any news

given (in whatever form) in programmes is presented with due accuracy and impartiality,

and (b) that due impartiality is preserved as respects matters of political or industrial

controversy or relating to current public policy" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 21).

The Green Paper then suggested not only the creation of a self-regulatory "Press

Council" but a press ombudsman "empowered by statute to receive complaints of bias,









incompetence, unethical behavior or unfairness" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 23). This

press ombudsman would have more authority than those in the United States, because he

would be a High Court Judge and the "wrongs over which (his) new jurisdiction would

consist would be made civil wrongs. A Judge would have power to punish persons who

disobey (his) orders" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 25).

Trinidadian journalists were alarmed by the suggestion that perceived

"incompetence" could become a civil infraction punishable by law. It is no secret that

journalists in most Caribbean islands are underpaid and receive on-the-job "training"

(Slinger 1993, 31). Peter Slinger reports, "trained personnel, an essential production

requirement, are in short supply on Trinidad and most journalists receive inadequate and

infrequent training" (Slinger 1993, 31). Examples of English-wrong verbs, bad spelling,

and lack of clarity abound.

"The industry is one in which a new product not only has to be created every day

but has to be created within a set of fixed deadlines which means that mistakes,

misjudgements even, are regrettably part of the territory" remarked one Express editorial

(Internet Express 2005a). Five years ago in Trinidad and Tobago it was nearly impossible

to find a journalist with an English or Journalism degree, or any degree at all. Today,

their numbers are increasing, but slowly.

Other suggested civil infractions included publishing information that "imperils

national security or undermines the democratic fabric" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 26). In

discussing their "alarm over laws that are worded in such loose-ended abstractions" an

Express editorial raised the question,

Would such a law, had it been in place, have been used to prevent the publication
of the contents of that celebrated meeting between Attorney General Ramesh









Maharaj and the imam of the Jamaat-Al-Muslimeen, Abu Bakr? Might it not have
been argued by somebody, with his own interests in the matter, that publication of
the taped conversation would have "imperiled national security" and undermined
the "democratic fabric"? (Trinidad Express 1997, 8)

The Green Paper also outlined a code of ethics that immediately drew the attention

of international media executives (Editor & Publisher 1997, 15). It states in part:

"Journalists and newspapers shall endeavour [sic] to highlight and promote activities of

the State and the public which aim at national unity and solidarity, integrity of Trinidad

and Tobago, and economic and social progress" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 26).

The Green Paper also states, "Journalists and newspapers shall avoid publication of

reports and comments which tend to promote tensions likely to lead to civil disorder,

meeting or rebellion" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 26). The seventh paragraph proposes,

"Newspapers and journalists shall refrain from publishing matters (including

advertisements) which is [sic] obscene or is likely to encourage vice, crime or unlawful

activities" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 27).

Editor & Publisher magazine cites Owen Baptiste, editor in chief of the Trinidad

Guardian, who commented that the goal of the government initiative was "not really to

make the press free nor journalists professional, but to have them both responsible only to

the government" (Editor & Publisher 1997, 15). Instead of promoting a healthy

relationship between the government and the press, the Attorney General's Green Paper

was seen as advancing what is commonly referred to as "developmental journalism."

Development News or Press Control?

"What happens in Trinidad, politicians become independent and then expect what

is called 'developmental journalism'" explained columnist B.C. Pires (Pires, 1999).

Developmental journalism has come to represent government-controlled news to









academics and journalists in the Western Hemisphere. An Editor & Publisher editorial

stated, "Popular independent newspapers are a special target of some sub-Saharan

governments, who use the genteel code words of "developmental journalism" to justify

their repression" (Editor & Publisher 2003, 11).

The debate rages on, but developmental journalism, as interpreted by Pires and

others, is a brand of journalism which asserts that journalists in "developing" societies,

like Zimbabwe and Trinidad, should not reveal wrong-doings or highlight misdeeds.

Leaders of developing countries do not expect negative coverage. They see it as evidence

of gross disrespect.

Politicians will also happily ensure that newspaper publishers pay the price for their

independence. During a 1998 appeal to supporters to boycott the Trinidad Guardian,

Panday declared, "If a newspaper is working against your interest to achieve a better life,

it is your enemy. No newspaper can survive without us. They all depend on us for

survival" (Siewah and Rampersad-Narinesingh 1995, 136).

In short, developmental journalists are expected to provide "uplifting" reports of a

country's development plans and strategies. "Positive journalism," Pires explained.

"Nation-building journalism" (Pires, 1999).

In keeping with this theme, in 1998 the ruling party, the United National Congress

(UNC) introduced the new state-owned National Broadcasting Network (NBN) with the

words, "The key objective of the (Panday) administration's communications should be to

persuade the population that the government cares, and is delivering benefits to the

people" (Gibbings 2). Dana Bullen, who served as Executive Director of the World Press

Freedom Committee for ten years, commented on developmental journalism this way: "In









my view, it is tragic self-deception to think this will aid the people of a country or its

development. It's been tried, and it doesn't work. Especially today, there are many

examples of this fact" (Bullen 1990, 15).

Bullen quotes a noted Indian journalist, Pran Chopra, as saying: "...if there is any

suppression of the truth under any kind of false notion of the obligations of the media,

then very soon you will end up with a situation where you neither have truth nor nation-

building" (Bullen 1990, 14).

Journalists in Trinidad and Tobago did acknowledge the Green Paper's many

proposals geared towards improving freedom of the press and quality of life. The Green

Paper suggested modernizing laws still in effect that did not address current societal

trends. For instance, the government introduced a proposal to update the "Children and

Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act of 1955, which is directed only against horror

comics, and does nothing to protect children from the more recent evil of violent and

sexually explicit videos" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 5). The government also suggested

amendments to the "Cinematograph Act of 1936 (which) sets up a censorship system for

films, but not for modern forms of electronic communications" (Trinidad & Tobago

1997, 5).

The Green Paper called attention to the need for "revising, updating and amending

media law ... to bring it in line with the recent and remarkable advances in media

technology" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 6). "Our laws which relate to freedom of

expression are old, vague and frequently anachronistic," states the Green Paper (Trinidad

& Tobago 1997, 4). In some cases, the unaltered laws have not affected the media









substantially. A statute making it a crime of treason or a felony to "agitate for a

Republic" has not been amended, but is obviously invalid (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 4).

However, the Green Paper points out that laws pertaining to obscene libel and the

law of contempt of court are still applicable in Trinidad and Tobago in their "ancient,

vague and unsatisfactory state, without reforms subsequently made in England by, for

example, the 1959 Obscene Publication Act and the 1981 Contempt of Court Act"

(Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 4). Laws such as these, the Attorney General stated, were in

urgent need of updating.

The Green Paper suggested that any new laws should include "protection for

journalists against punishment for contempt for refusing to disclose their sources of

information" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 8). The Green Paper also proposed that the

government implement laws that would prevent politicians from "using their ministerial

or governmental power to discriminate against a disliked publication or by giving

commercial advantages to benefit rivals" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 9).

The Green Paper suggested harsh punishment for racial defamation. "Human

Rights treaties generally make an exception to free speech when it is intended to stir up

racial hatreds and violence There is a strong case for making incitement to racial

violence a specific criminal offence" (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 13). Indeed, other

countries, such as Germany, France and Spain, have already made it illegal to spread race

hatred, and to defend negationistt" theories that deny the Holocaust happened (Ford

1998). Trinidad Express columnist George John concurred: "No serious media person at

any level in this country [would] have any objection to media guidelines that come down

heavily on the promotion of racism in whatever form" (John 2005).









Because the language contained in the Green Paper had an undercurrent of media

control, it incited heated public reaction. The government was eventually forced to

withdraw the document. Panday also promised to curb his strident condemnations of the

press, but in 1998, journalists and supporters took to the streets to protest continued

attacks on them and threats to democracy (Freedom House 1999).

Other Factors that Affect the Survival of Independent Media

Editors and broadcasters of failed independent ventures worldwide can narrate

stories of arbitrary arrests, detentions without trial, tax audits, and arson and assassination

attempts. Inarguably, draconian laws and authoritarian systems make it difficult for these

media to stay afloat. But according to Webster there are other factors that are equally

important in determining a newspaper's fate in a developing and often authoritarian

context such as the Caribbean (Webster 1992): These are management, circulation,

advertising, demographics, editorial policies, ownership, and government relations. We

shall outline the importance of each of these briefly in the next section.

Managerial Expertise

Effective managers are born of training and experience, much of it involving trial

and error (Webster 1992). However, a developing country is an economic environment

unforgiving of slip-ups. One mistake could be the difference between life and death for a

small newspaper.

In Zambia, The Post is the only newspaper that withstood the pressure of a free

market economy without government or religious financial interjection (Africa News

2004). "The Post has shown its management ability to plan ahead, to read its economic

environment, and to budget and plan accordingly" reported the Africa News (Africa

News 2004). Botswana's leading independent newspaper Mmegi made the strategic









decision to increase production from one to four times a week, and doubled its circulation

figures in seven short months (Index on Censorship 1992, 64).

In contrast, in South Africa, the Nigerian-owned daily ThisDay did not fare as well.

They changed publishers twice in one year due to an inability to "fulfill the conditions of

their [sic] contract," paid their reporters infrequently and finally suspended printing in

October 2004 until "all outstanding dues to staff and others could be cleared" (Agence

France Presse 2004). And in France, the leading daily Le Monde launched a weekend

magazine aimed at women and younger readers that not only did not lure new readers,

but repelled existing customers with its trivial content, and compounded the newspaper's

financial difficulties (The Business 2004).

Advertising

In general, paid circulation accounts for roughly 20 percent of a newspaper's

revenue (Ahrens 2005, F01). The sale of advertising space makes up the rest. The

managing editor of Botswana's Mmegi credits 80 to 85 percent of his paper's income to

advertising (Index on Censorship 1992, 64). In the Caribbean, the figures are between 80

and 95 percent (Neptune and Richards 2001). However, advertisers are not plentiful, and

conditions within the advertising market are steadily worsening (Index on Censorship

1992, 64). As many newspaper publishers can attest, "advertisers prefer glossy

magazines, radio and television" (The Business 2004).

Advertising expenditure is also susceptible to changes in the economy. "When jobs

grow, employers tend to buy help-wanted ads to attract applicants. When housing is

booming, so do real-estate ads, and when retailers or auto companies are competing with

each other for the attention of free-spending consumers, they also take out ads" says

Associated Press writer Seth Sutel (Sutel 2004). However, when the economic climate









takes a turn for the worse, businesses may limit their advertising expenditure, especially

if they are fearful that their other expenses, such as energy, fuel, insurance, interest rates,

commodities and health care, are also on the rise (Sutel 2004). A newspaper with

minimal circulation figures, or one seen as anti-establishment, would be even more hard-

pressed than most to win the attention of a cautious businessperson.

Circulation

Newsstands are the main form of circulation for newspapers throughout the

Caribbean. Some organizations, such as airlines, schools and hotels, subscribe to one or

more of the major newspapers on behalf of their patrons, but smaller publications are

distributed almost entirely by individual sales. Apart from newsstands and subscriptions,

some publications are distributed via the post office. Obviously, this is an inefficient form

of distribution that can result in slow deliveries (Webster 1992).

Apart from the means by which newspapers are circulated, there are almost more

publications than the consumer market can sustain. Some newspapers resort to

sensationalism to draw customers away from their competition (Webster 1992). The

researcher found several examples of such sensationalism in Trinidad's newspapers. In a

one month period, the front pages literally screamed for attention with words like fire,

slash, crash, burned, stabbed, shot, and killed.

But even these strategies fail to attract the new generation that is bypassing

newspapers altogether for the Internet, radio and television. "Circulation has been in

decline for more than a dozen years," reported industry expert John Morton (Hundley

2004, Business ID). "And it probably will continue to decline unless some of these

attempts to attract young readers prove more successful than likely."









Demographics

The physical characteristics of a population such as age, sex, marital status, family

size and education have a lot to do with their acceptance of a new media. An older, more

settled population will respond differently to independent media and the possibility of

change than a younger, more defiant population. A financially secure, more settled

household is more likely to read the newspaper than their struggling neighbors

(Malthouse and Calder 2003, 2). A low literacy rate more negatively affects print

publications than it would a television or radio station.

Then there are the variables common to newspapers throughout the world: young

people are accustomed to getting their information for free, through the Internet, radio

and television. The Newspaper Association of America reports that in 2004, an average

of 38.8% of those aged 25 to 34 read a daily newspaper, while the readership percentage

for those 55 and over is 67.4 (Saba 2005). Newspapers in the United States have

experimented with many strategies to woo younger readers, from publishing free

community papers and special sections to utilizing colorful fonts and celebrity front page

pictures (Gloede 2005).

Editorial Policies

"Being a newspaper that is not tied to any political party or commercial interest has

stood us in good stead," recounts Gwen Lister, editor of one of Africa's successful

independent newspapers. "The Namibian consistently adheres to a clear set of ideals, and

this has helped us steer our course, often through very stormy waters" (Lister 2004, 46).

A paper's editorial policy can affect its readership. The Philadelphia Inquirer urged its

readers to vote for Republican candidates, and their lack of objectivity cost them readers

(Gloede 2005). The editorial policy not only affects circulation, but also impacts how the









state and government relate to that paper. The government can easily kill a publication

through limiting the supply of newsprint or presses, persecuting its staff or confiscating

its assets if it doesn't agree with the paper's content (Webster 1992).

Ownership

Most newspapers in authoritarian societies are owned either by the state or by

private families (Djankov and others 2001, 1). Both groups can have a negative impact on

press freedom and survival. "Government ownership of the media is generally associated

with less press freedom [and] fewer political and economic rights" wrote one group of

researchers (Djankov and others 2001, 1). Editor-in-Chief of Guyana's Stabroek News

David de Caires added,

The State should not own any of the media of information except through the
device of an autonomous State corporation like the BBC in which directors,
programmers, journalists and so on are insulated from interference by the State.
Direct state ownership of the media is incompatible with a multi-party democracy
and with the free flow of information. It puts enormous pressures on the staff to
conform and to become the propaganda agents of the party in power. It makes for
bad journalism. Certainly, especially in poor countries, the resources of the state
must play a major role in developing the media, but this must be done in such a
way that the politicians have no control of news content. (de Caires 2003, 73)

Many governments use their financial leverage on the media as a way to control

them. "State subsidies and state advertising revenues enable governments to influence

media content" (Djankov and others 2001, 15) "In Cameroon, for example, the state

refused to advertise in privately owned press after critical coverage of government."

But ownership by families or widely-held corporations can also be detrimental to

the free flow of information and a publication's continued existence. "Controlling private

shareholders get the same benefit from controlling media outlets: the ability to influence

public opinion and the political process" (Djankov and others 2001, 17). President of the

Caribbean Association of Media Workers (ACM) Wesley Gibbings remarked,









As a media workers representative, I often run afoul of media owners and managers
who believe the agenda of media practitioners is necessarily the same as theirs....
They are amongst the principal enemies of free press in an ironic kind of way. The
over-emphasis on making money has been a discredit to the Caribbean media
industry. (Pires 2005)

In other words, even when an entity is privately owned, they may need to practice a

form of self-censorship in order to survive.

Government Relations

The willingness of a country's administration to tolerate the criticism of

opinionated journalists is a pivotal factor in the survival of an independent medium. In

Tanzania, journalists have been known to lose both their citizenship and their work

permits through the machinations of a hostile government. In 2003 the country's only

independent newspaper Dira was closed by the Zanzibar government on unspecified

"national security" grounds (Committee to Protect Journalists 2005). In 2005, the

government banned political columnist Jabir Idrissa from writing, citing a rarely-enforced

1988 law to show that he was working without permission (Committee to Protect

Journalists 2005).

African governments have also used criminal libel laws and licensing requirements

to conveniently muzzle the press. A 2003 Editor & Publisher editorial related, "Since

publishing an article in October suggesting Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah

was unfit to hold office, the newspaper Di People has been hit by a variety of "seditious"

and "criminal" libel charges. On Nov. 4, the World Association of Newspapers reported,

heavily armed police seized all the newspaper's equipment -- right down to Editor Paul

Kamara's car" (Editor & Publisher 2003, 11).

In Armenia, freedom of speech is specifically enshrined in the constitution:

"Everyone is entitled to assert his or her opinion. No one shall be forced to retract or









change his or her opinion. Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech, including the

freedom to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas through any medium of

information, regardless of state borders" (European Journalism Centre 2003). In practice,

however, newspaper content is controlled by political parties and the power elite.

Because the majority of Armenians do not contribute to the circulation or advertising

sales of the country's newspapers, independent media are virtually non-existent, and a

publication's survival is contingent upon the goodwill of powerful political sponsors

(European Journalism Centre 2003).

The Caribbean island of Jamaica, however, is noted for its "vibrant and free press"

(Henry 1999). Jamaica is home to three daily national newspapers, several regional

papers, seven radio stations, three television stations and dozens of imported cable

channels, as well as magazine and book publishers (Henry 1999). The government owns

none of these media outlets, and journalists, whom the public holds in high esteem, are

free to report on government activities.

The next chapter takes a look at how these antecedents and factors influenced the

birth and career of the Independent and ultimately led to its demise.














CHAPTER 3
CASE STUDY: THE INDEPENDENT

History of the Independent

The journalists and editors who started the Independent walked out of their jobs at

the Trinidad Guardian in April 1996, after the publishers terminated Alwin Chow, the

managing director, and asked the remaining staff to stop writing stories critical of Prime

Minister Basdeo Panday and his government (Pires, 1999). Three months prior, Panday

had called on his supporters to boycott the Guardian and force the removal of its editor-

in-chief Jones P. Madeira on the grounds that he was racist and that the Guardian was

biased against the government (Newsday 1996b, 3).

Former Guardian editor Sunity Maharaj recounted that Panday called the Guardian

almost weekly to complain about articles that had been written about him or his

parliament (Maharaj, 1999). The publishers of the Trinidad Guardian were

understandably uncomfortable with the undue attention the prime minister was giving

their paper. Pires stated that at one point Michael Mansoor, Managing Director of the

Trinidad Publishing Company, would "come into the newsroom and go through letters to

filter out letters critical of the government" (Pires, 1999).

To that end, Chow related that the Guardian's board of directors wanted him to

"stop covering events of the Jamaat-Al-Muslimeen, a group of left-wing Muslim

dissidents, to drop a column by former UNC parliamentarian Hulsie Bhaggan and to

submit editorials for the Board's approval" (Newsday 1996a, 4). His refusal to conform

to a new editorial policy resulted in his almost immediate dismissal. But as he cleaned out









his desk, so did nine other editors and journalists, who saw the sequence of events as an

attack on freedom of the Press (Pires, 1999).

Their resignation represented a level of ethics unheard of in Trinidad. "People talk

a lot about doing the right thing, and they don't do a damn thing," said Pires (Pires,

1999). Although a few journalists supported the actions of the former Guardian staff, the

majority did not.

The firing or resigning or constructive dismissal of the managing director of the
Trinidad Guardian, Alwin Chow, knocked all other news off the front pages of the
Guardian and the Express. As if everything else in the country dwindled to
insignificance," wrote Ian Gooding, a Newsday columnist. "Some people are taking
their principled stands very seriously, as if they have no mortgages and car
payments to deal with, and are threatening to resign. I wish them all the best and
congratulate them on being excellent managers of their economic lives. (Gooding
1996, 8)

An Express editorial announced,

Whatever the construction Mr. Chow has put on the events, we believe that he
understands that the right to decide the editorial direction of any newspaper lies
with the owners of that paper. If he would not or could not carry out that policy as
enunciated by the owners through the board, they had the right to dismiss him,
constructively or otherwise. (Trinidad Express 1995, 5)

As we shall see, the Independent had a difficult birth.

High Start-Up Costs

"Starting a newspaper... is not easy and requires a fair amount of organization and,

more crucially, capital," observed Editor-in-Chief of Guyana's Stabroek News David de

Caires (de Caires 2003, 74). "Even using a 20-year-old reconditioned press and

elementary typesetting and other equipment an expenditure of at least US $140,000 could

be involved."

In order to start the paper, the editors of the Independent borrowed against the

retirement funds and credit union accounts of their founding staff. The initial investment,









including all loans and personal mortgages amounted to US $165,000 (Cuffie, 1999). The

majority of this went toward paying for the lease of the Trinidad Express' printing press,

paying the salaries of the junior journalists and securing office space for the fledgling

newspaper and its staff.

Small Advertising Base

Advertisers look at two things: a paper's circulation figures, and the image of the

publication in the eyes of the public. Cuffie explained that East Indian businessmen,

inarguably over 60 percent of the advertising base, refused to advertise with the

Independent because of the perception of it being anti-government (Cuffie, 1999).

In a Trinidad Express interview he added that the Ansa McAL group which owns

the Trinidad Guardian and is one of the country's largest conglomerates also declined to

advertise with the Independent. "I think there was a certain amount of sympathy from the

Syrian business community toward the Ansa McAL Group which meant that we did not

get advertising from them either" (Duke-Westfield 1998, 8).

Without a steady stream of advertising revenue, the Independent was relying on its

shaky circulation figures and its investors as their sole sources of income.

Weak Circulation

With a literacy rate of 98.6% (CIA 2005) Trinidad & Tobago's citizens are avid

readers; the country's media are in heated competition for their attention. Apart from the

Independent, one could find at any newsstand copies of the Trinidad Guardian, the

Trinidad Express, the Probe, the Punch, the TNT Mirror, Newsday, the Tobago News,

and the Catholic News.

Newspapers such as Newsday and Punch are known for their sensational headlines,

and in the case of the Sunday Punch, sexy front page pictures. Individual sales are a









substantial fraction of a publication's circulation figures, so the objective for many papers

is to attract the attention of the ordinary newsstand customer.

With a staff of senior journalists adept in the clever use of English language, the

Independent soon set itself apart from other publications. "The Independent was cheeky.

It had mass appeal," recalled Maharaj (Maharaj, 1999). But circulation figures never

reached the break-even level. "The Independent's daily circulation averaged 20,000, on a

good day 23,000" (Duke-Westfield 1998, 8), just 11 percent of the daily newspaper

market. In contrast, Newsday, the second youngest daily, boasted an average circulation

of 52,596 copies Monday to Saturday (Newsday 1998, 1).

Weak Demographics

The population of Trinidad and Tobago is a very racially diverse. According to the

2005 CIA World Factbook, East Indians make up 40 percent of the population, blacks

37.5 percent, mixed 20.5 percent and other races 2 percent. The median age is 30.91

years and literacy is high (98.6 percent). It is not surprising that a newspaper stigmatized

by the country's first East Indian prime minister lost almost half of its potential readers

from its inception. In fact, the arson attempt at Polygon Printers Ltd, printers of the

Independent was deemed by some to be racially motivated (Phillips 1997, 5).

Hostile Editorial Policy

The Independent was the first paper to report on the implications of the Green

Paper, "and well we ought to have been: we are the most under threat, if only by virtue of

our size relative to the other dailies" (Independent 1997a, 8). It broke the existence of

tapes recording conversations between the leader of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen and the

Attorney-General, irregularities in the award of the contracts in the airports expansion

project, and a minister who waived the taxes on the import of Jeep Cherokees for his









friends (Independent 1997a, 8). The government cited these stories as evidence of bias

against the UNC and the government, and justification for their lack of cooperation with

the Independent and its staff members.

Ownership Changes

By the time the first issue of the Independent hit the streets on May 9, 1996, the

journalists responsible for its birth owned only 40 percent of the paper (Duke-Westfield

1996, 7). In August 1998, CL Financial bought the remaining shares and sold the

Independent in its entirety to the Caribbean Communications Network (CCN), owners of

the Trinidad Express (Trinidad Guardian 1998, 1).

The CCN group kept the newspaper in publication for almost three more years. In a

1999 interview, then Independent managing editor Maxie Cuffie expressed optimism that

with the CCN name behind it, the paper had a "better chance" (Cuffie, 1999). "Hopefully

the stigma with the Independent being anti-UNC and all of that will change... and we'd

be able to survive," he said (Cuffie, 1999).

However, the ability of the publication to attract advertisers did not improve, and in

April 2001 Craig Reynold, CCN's Chief Executive Officer, announced that "while the

product was essentially a very good one, it failed to attract the volume of advertising

necessary to keep the paper afloat" (Internet Express 2001). The Independent published

its last issue on April 6, 2001.

Poor Government Relations

Former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago Basdeo Panday firmly believed that

the island's newspapers depended on him and his supporters for survival (Siewah and

Rampersad-Narinesingh 1995, 136). He found evidence of bias in almost every issue of

the local newspapers, and encouraged his supporters to boycott several publications. In









1996, he targeted the Independent for special antagonism, claiming that its reporting

reflected both political and racist bias. He asserted that the media were polarizing the

country and discrediting his leadership with its anti-UNC and Afro-centric agenda. To

that end, he did not hesitate to castigate Independent reporters at every opportunity.

Content Analysis of Independent Editorials

The researcher examined randomly selected Independent editorials, from the time

of its daily publication, using two forms of analysis. The 30 editorials were coded in

view of their subject matter: editorials dealing with government's efforts to restrict the

media were coded "Restrict/Media." Coverage of the Panday administration was either

coded "UNC/negative" or "UNC/positive."

Editorials dealing with social, non-governmental issues such as road safety, the

police force, teachers' unions or national holidays were coded either "Social Ills" or

"Social/positive." Editorials specifically dealing with the Prime Minister were coded

"Panday/negative" (there were no "Panday/positive" editorials).

References to the "Panday government" were coded under "Panday/negative"

instead of "UNC/negative" because of the reference to the Prime Minister. As was

mentioned before, editorials dealing with the police or teaching force were coded under

"Social Ills" or "Social/positive" because the editorials contained no reference to the

government. Examples of each are listed in Appendixes A through F. Six editorials did

not fall into any of the above categories and were not coded.

The category with the greatest occurrences was "Social Ills" (8). This is not

surprising, since newspaper editors routinely comment on pressing issues that affect the

community. But it was noted that this category occurred more frequently than









"Panday/negative" (3) in light of the fact that the Prime Minister accused the Independent

of targeting him for special criticism.

The tables below illustrate the breakdown of the Independent editorials randomly

selected for analysis. The first table illustrates the coding schematic, while the second

table focuses merely on negative political coverage versus positive political coverage.

The third table shows the date and title of each editorial that the researcher selected for

this analysis.

Table 3-1. Conceptual analysis of Independent editorials
Subject Matter Occurrences

Restrict Media 5
UNC/Negative 5
UNC/Positive 2
Panday/Negative 3
Social Ills 8
Social/Positive 2
Not Coded 6

Table 3-2. Positive vs. negative political coverage in Independent editorial sample
Political Positive Political Negative
2 8


Table 3-3. Full titles of Independent editorials and coding schemes
Title of Editorial Date Published
A step forward for Public Service Reform Tue 12/17/1996
Waiting to happen Wed 09/10/1997
Restore Public Confidence Wed 11/12/1997
Bound by the Constitution Tue 03/18/1997
Probe those cops Sat 08/09/1997
Crossing the line Wed 07/02/1997
The Singapore model of repression Thu 12/04/1997
One year of Independence Fri 05/09/1997
Full untruth Fri 09/05/1997
Go after them Tue 10/07/1997


Assigned Code
UNC/Positive
Social Ills
Social Ills
Not Coded
Social/Positive
Restrict/Media
Not Coded
Restrict/Media
Panday/Negative
UNC/Positive









Table 3-3. Continued
Title of Editorial
What now Mr Maraj?
Speaker out of line
Of rights and responsibility
Banking on short memories
Too many holidays
Outright lies
Think about the children
Seeing red
Something new
No clear alternative
On a dangerous path
Message of Independence
Life after Di
Down to the wire
Public service cuts a word of caution
Media obsession

More lies, half-truths and innuendos
Curb yourself, Mr. Prime Minister
Clean up this act
Leadership and credibility


Date Published
Mon 06/02/1997
Thu 12/04/1997
Thu 07/10/1997
Sat 07/05/1997
Tue 04/01/1997
Mon 01/12/1998
Fri 01/02/1998
Fri 11/28/1997
Wed 10/22/1997
Thu 12/19/1996
Mon 01/13/1997
Sat 08/30/1997
Mon 09/01/1997
Tue 12/31/1996
Mon 12/09/1996
Sat 01/17/1998

Fri 05/23/1997
Wed 06/17/1997
Thurs 01/23/1997
Sat 05/09/1998


Assigned Code
Social Ills
Restrict/Media
UNC/Negative
UNC/Negative
Social Ills
UNC/Negative
Social Ills
Social Ills
Not Coded
Not Coded
Social Ills
Social Positive
Not Coded
UNC/Negative
Social Ills
Restrict Media

Panday/Negative
Panday/Negative
Restrict Media
UNC/Negative














CHAPTER 4
CONCLUSION

In a previous chapter, the researcher described in great detail the Four Theories of

the Press advanced by media scholar Frederick S. Siebert (Siebert and others, 1963). The

relationship between politicians and the press in Trinidad and Tobago seems to mirror the

social responsibility theory. But more often than not, the established government reverts

to the authoritarian system that it has historically been more comfortable with. While

claiming to advance the ideals of freedom of the press and freedom of expression,

politicians have simultaneously attempted to implement legislation that would muzzle

independent media on the island.

The UNC government's Green Paper Reform of Media Law: Towards a Free and

Responsible Media is a suitable example of this fact. The office of the Attorney General

pointed out within its pages that there is a need to amend many of the laws pertaining to

the media in Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 4). This is true, but the

undercurrent of media control was just barely veiled by the Green Paper's modicum of

positive suggestions. The notion of an uncompromising press ombudsman "empowered

by statute to receive complaints of bias, incompetence, unethical behavior or unfairness"

was one of the proposals that incited loud protests from journalists all over the country

(Trinidad & Tobago 1997, 23); and it is not hard to see why.

Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday's distaste for public criticism is well-known

to Trinidadian journalists. He "has been known to condemn all opinions contrary to his

own as having a political agenda, and more often than not, a racist agenda" (Ramesar 7).









It was feared that the press ombudsman would have become just another way for him to

harass members of the press. For instance, he could go through the paper every day and

count how many East Indian writers were published, totaling up the sum every week for

review by the ombudsman. Would an adverse number in any given week have been

considered bias, worthy of punishment?

Paragraphs that outlined a media code of ethics also drew fire from media

professionals throughout the Caribbean. It was seen as the government's promotion of

developmental journalism and a strong indication that the Panday administration was

uninterested in fostering true freedom of the press.

Lessons Learned from Studying the Case of the Independent

Many factors affect the survival of a fledgling newspaper, including ownership,

demographics, circulation, editorial policy, and more importantly the political

environment into which it was born. On the surface it appeared that the Independent had

a respectable chance at a continued existence. It was 60 percent owned by CL Financial,

a stable and willing donor. It was published on an island with a high literacy rate and a

young demographic make-up. The editorial staff of the newspaper was comprised of the

most well-trained journalists in the country. And the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago

guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

However, the reality of the Independent's situation was that corporate ownership

led to them being sold to a bigger publishing house, one with a less confrontational

approach to reporting. "We can't be wild and outrageous," recounted former managing

editor Maxie Cuffie (Cuffie, 1999). "Before, you know, I put a story in the paper, I don't









have to answer any questions... [Now we] have meetings where I disagree totally with

what they're telling me (Cuffie, 1999).

The Independent's consumer base shrank as its stories began to mirror those of its

larger and more established competitors, and advertising revenue decreased proportionate

to circulation. The Panday administration also continued to ignore the editors' right to

freedom of speech. "Three of us were audited by the IRS. Maxie, Sunity and I were all

asked to file taxes for the last six years," recounts former Independent columnist B.C.

Pires (Pires, 1999). In the face of such complex pressures, it is no wonder that the paper

eventually folded.

The researcher concluded from her analysis of 30 randomly selected Independent

editorials that the country's newest independent publication was not biased against the

government. The Independent did publish several editorials that were critical of the UNC

and their attempts to restrict the media. However, they did not publish anything that was

undocumented, or fabricate news for the sole purpose of criticizing the administration.

Even reporters not associated with the Independent felt compelled to denounce "the

UNC's unprecented attempts to control the press, the calypsonians1, the dissenters of all

stripes" (Yawching 2000).

In 1997, for example, one calypsonian sang a calypso titled "Panday needs

glasses." The song portrayed the prime minister as enamored with alcohol and blind to

the corruption in his administration (Lashley 2004). Panday declared after the 1997

calypso season that he was going to "make sure" that kind of thing never happened again.

The UNC government subsequently announced the decision to "withhold State funding

1 Calypso is a style of music that originated in the West Indies at about the turn of the 20th century.
Calypsonians typically use their lyrics as a form of social and political commentary.









of any activity in which calypsonians sing lyrics deemed distasteful" (Joseph 2000) and

even proposed a bill, titled the Equal Opportunities Bill that forbade the dissemination of

artistic works is reasonably likely, in all circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or

intimidate another person or a group of persons" (Lashley 2004). Trinidad Express

columnist Selwyn Cudjoe relates that the UNC's propensity for corruption and media

suppression resulted in negative press coverage from all Trinidadian newspapers, not just

the Independent:

"For many, a UNC government symbolizes more lies, more distortion, more

illegality, more corruption, more undemocratic practices and more indecency" (Cudjoe

2000). And in a poll taken just before the November 2000 election, and subsequently

published in the Trinidad Express, 66 percent of the respondents acknowledged that the

UNC government was blatantly corrupt (Ryan 2000).

It is therefore not surprising that the Independent was seldom able to cast the new

administration in a positive light. However, within the 9-month sample there were

editorials that reported favorably on government actions or initiatives. In one editorial,

the editors wrote favorably about a code of conduct agreed upon by the government and

the Public Services Association calling it "one of the few pieces of positive news on that

front in a long while" (Independent 1996, 8). In another editorial the Independent praised

former president Arthur Robinson and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday for being so

forthcoming with information regarding their failing health.

"These are welcome departures from the tendency to keep the public in the dark

about official matters that has been part of our political culture for so long," declared the

editors (Independent 1998, 8). The former Prime Minister's attacks on the fledgling









newspaper seem all the more unfair in view of these examples, hence the conclusion of

one Independent editorial: "We implore Mr. Panday to give up the senseless, and entirely

unjust, war he is intent on waging against the constitutional rights of the media. Both he

and they have more important things to do" (Independent 1997b, 8).

The life and death of the Independent are reflections of the pressures editors of

independent papers have to face in pseudo-democratic states. Although the fight for press

freedom is a dynamic issue among journalists worldwide, local Trinidadians are not

overly concerned. They are aware of the "acrimony that has followed almost everything

the press has written about Government actions" (Solomon 2000). But as Pires explains,

"Trinidadians have a seven-day memory span: they will be angry and indignant for a

short time, after which all is forgotten" (Pires, 1999).

The laissez-faire attitude of the general population is responsible for the

astonishing brevity of public outcry in Trinidad and Tobago. The locals have resigned

themselves to political wrongdoing (Trinidad Express 2000). If the public had objected to

the government's treatment of the media more forcefully, the Independent staff may not

have had such difficult experiences.

On the other hand, it may take a greater international awareness of the rift between

the media and government in Trinidad and Tobago to force the parties to find workable

solutions to their problems. The island's administration does not want to be perceived as

undemocratic or authoritarian, because such an image flies in the face of the new

international penchant towards social equality and freedom. It could lead to sanctions, to

a decrease in foreign investors, even to a decline in income from foreign aid.






39


On the other hand, editors and journalists in Trinidad and Tobago should reflect on

some of the tenets of social responsibility presented by the government, seeing it not as a

threat, but as a suggestion.
















APPENDIX A
INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'RESTRICT MEDIA'



Crossing the line Wednesday, July 2,1997
The campaign of the UNC-led government against the media has now gone beyond
the stage of complaints about "lies, half-truths and innuendos," demands for the dismissal of
journalists and draconian Green Papers on "reform" of media law. It has taken the form of an
illegal attempt by the police, on the orders of the Acting Prime Minister, to seize a tape
recording made by a journalist in the open and legitimate exercise of his profession.
Journalist Anthony Hector, covering the visit of Acting Prime Minister John Humphrey
to the site of a proposed hotel and golf course at Canaan, recorded an argument between Mr.
Humphrey and Mr. Hochoy Charles, Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly. On
Mr. Humphrey's orders, a senior superintendent of the police attempted to take possession of
the tape recorder and cassette, for the stated purpose of erasing the tape. Mr. Hector agreed
to erase the tape himself and did so.
A photographer from the Independent was also debarred from taking pictures of the
incident.
Mr. Humphrey's action in ordering the erasure of the tape was arbitrary and illegal, as
was the attempt by the police to carry out the order. Mr. Humphrey's claim that the meeting
was private has no validity. It was not in fact private, for the press had been invited to cover
the event. But it could not in any case have been private in any meaningful sense. It is the job
of journalists to run after ministers and record anything that they do that is newsworthy. Mr.
Humphrey would not have objected to photographs or recordings if he had been kissing
babies, assisting disaster victims or doing anything else that put him in a favourable light,
whether the press had been invited or not. If he does not want his arguments with other
politicians to be made public, he should conduct them behind closed doors.
The security forces, for their part, cannot hide behind their political superiors if the
orders they receive from those superiors are illegal. People were hanged in Nuremberg for
disregarding that fundamental principle. All functionaries must be continually aware of the
legal limits of their authority and act accordingly. Mr. Humphrey should have been quietly
advised by his security detail that neither he nor they had the authority to do what he was
proposing. This is quite apart from any advice he might have received from his political
entourage as to the undesirability of losing his temper in public.
Mr. Hector was under no obligation to surrender his tape to the police or anyone else,
and was justified in resisting any attempt to seize it. We could even wish that he had not
erased the tape himself, but waited for the police to take it by force. The charge of illegal
seizure might then have been added to the suit for assault that Mr. Hector, in our opinion, has
every right to bring against the police and perhaps the Acting Prime Minister.
We await with interest the results of the investigation of the Media Association of
Trinidad and Tobago into this latest incident of government intimidation of the media. Both
politicians and police must be made to understand the limits of their powers.
















APPENDIX B
INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'SOCIAL/POSITIVE'



Probe those cops Saturday, August 9, 1997
It is very gratifying that the enquiry into the police shooting of Stephan Pereira,
Marcus Antoine and Lawrence Jobity should have been brought about by a public outcry.
There are no doubt some among us who would be inclined to shrug the killings off
with a good riddance". It is therefore heartening to see that so many of us, despite the
constant menace of violent crime under which we live, find the idea of a police execution
squad abhorrent. We hope the police hierarchy find it equally unacceptable.
For some time now there have been ample grounds for suspicion that the police,
frustrated at the acquittals and dropped charges necessitated by the intimidation and
murder of witnesses, have taken the law into their own hands and begun to shoot suspects
instead of arresting (or re-arresting) them.
Even the reports of the police themselves on the incidents strain credulity. In the
killing of Anthony Lizard" Bridgelal eyewitness reports called the police version into
question. Imran Ali and Bunny Bran, suspects in the murder of former Attorney General
Selwyn Richardson, were also killed in separate incidents by the police. Bran and three
others were outnumbered four to one by members of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad in four
vehicles. In that case the police claimed to find two handguns; in the case of Ali, one.
In both cases, as in the La Paille killings, the men were said to have been under
surveillance, and were supposedly on the way to commit a crime, not fleeing after
committing one. In none of the three cases was there any damage to the police cars, nor
was any policeman wounded, even though the police say they were fired on first.
Even in cases of lesser notoriety, we have become accustomed to reading that the
police see someone behaving suspiciously", approach him, find themselves fired upon, and,
in an exchange of fire", blow the person away with no harm to themselves. It is routinely
said that prisoners escaping half naked from prison vans or police lockups are dangerous
and may be armed", an obvious prelude to shooting them on sight.
However severe the problem of crime may become, the police must not be allowed
to set themselves up as judge, jury and executioner. Not only would this destroy the rule of
law and set at nought the principle of due process, but the next step could easily be police
hiring themselves out as paid killers, as in Brazil.
It may even be time for the police to tighten up generally on their use of firearms.
Not just fatal shootings, but any incident in which a firearm is discharged should be the
subject of an obligatory report and, if necessary, an enquiry. This in fact was the case in the
past, before the police began to carry firearms as a matter of course.
Professional bodies, and particularly the police, are notoriously reluctant to
condemn their own members. The enquiry announced by the Assistant Commissioner
(Crime) is to be an internal one. We sincerely hope it will be an enquiry and not a cover-up.
The only way we can be sure of this is for the evidence and the result to be made public.
Otherwise there will be a strong case for a permanent civilian police review board to
investigate cases of this kind.
















APPENDIX C
INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'PANDAY/NEGATIVE'



Full untruth Friday, September 5, 1997
Princess Diana's relationship with the press may have been an ambiguous one. Mr.
Basdeo Panday's relationship with the press is perfectly straightforward. Everything is grist
to the mill of opprobrium in which he seeks to pulverize the media. Including Princess
Diana.
And no occasion is too inappropriate for the Prime Minister to seize upon as an
opportunity to vent his pet hate. At the Emancipation celebrations, he chose to do it before a
visiting Head of State and our own President. He did it again at his Party's convention. Most
recently, he has chosen as his forum the inauguration of this year's School Feeding
Programme, and as a pretext the death of the Princess of Wales.
The accident in which Princess Diana died, Mr. Panday would have us believe, is
an example of what can happen when the press indulges its tendency to publish anything
about anybody". Governments, he argues, have a duty to protect their citizens against
things like that". He did not say which citizens, apart from himself, had asked for protection.
The link between the Princess' death and her pursuit by the paparazzi is tenuous at
best. The link Mr. Panday is trying to demonstrate between the activities of paparazzi and
press in Europe and the media in Trinidad and Tobago is simply non-existent. He should
thank his lucky stars that this is so.
In any case, what the European press publishes as a result of the efforts of the
paparazzi are photographs, not the lies, half-truths and innuendos" Mr. Panday sees, but
has never identified, in the local media. What they publish as a result of telephone
interception are transcripts of erotic conversations, not the racially divisive" material that Mr.
Panday's overheated imagination purports to discern.
Those who attribute Diana's death to harassment by the media are talking not of
inaccuracy or libel but of invasion of privacy. Mr. Panday, to our knowledge, has never been
photographed with a long-focus lens while disporting himself with a member of the opposite
sex. Or if he has, the press has been too discreet publish it. Nor has he been overheard
likening himself to a tampon or being called Squidgy". The complaint that the press had
published too many photographs of him with a glass in his hand came not from him but from
Wade Mark, and was proven to be quite unjustified. The complaint, that is, not the innuendo
Mr. Mark was claiming to see.
Mr. Panday should have limited himself to deploring the Princess' death and
extending condolences to the British Royal Family, government and people. In that, he
spoke for all of us. To use the tragedy for political ends is shameful. And the population has
not failed to notice that while he was exploiting the death of a foreign personality for his own
cheap purposes, neither he nor any member of his government saw fit to make a statement
on the death of Dr. Patrick Solomon, let alone attend the funeral.
We implore Mr. Panday to give up the senseless, and entirely unjust, war he is
intent on waging against the constitutional rights of the media. Both he and they have more
important things to do.
















APPENDIX D
INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'UNC/POSITIVE'



Go after them Tuesday, October 7,1997
LEGAL AFFAIRS Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar must be commended for
moving with alacrity to handle the most dangerous situation that has arisen in the Registrar
General's department of her Ministry.
According to an exclusive report carried in the last Weekend Independent the
Registar General's Department, where all Government records dealing with births,
marriages, deaths, land titles and other legal documents are filed, has been infiltrated by
drug barons and other criminal elements.
Drug dealers, according to the report, have been paying corrupt public servants to
falsify, fabricate and duplicate their birth and marriage documents and have falsified land
and property deeds. This in a bid to beat the new legislation which provides for the
confiscation of properties and bank accounts of convicted drug dealers.
The matter was brought to the attention of the Minister by the Registar General.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar then took the issue to Cabinet which has appointed a Task Force to
deal with the problems.
No doubt Government's desire to act would have also been spurred by the
complaints of the foreign embassies, especially the Americans and Canadians, who,
according to the report, have complained of the unreliability of local official documents.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar has stated that computerization of the country's official
records is one safeguard against the possibility of similar incidents recurring. She was,
however, reluctant to commit herself to a promise of criminal prosecution for anyone found
to have been involved with tampering with the official documents. While one can be
appreciative of the Minister's desire not to preempt the findings of a final report, it must be
obvious that anyone discovered to have compromised the integrity of the records must be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
It is the possibility of such strong action, and not the installation of computers, that
will act as a deterrent. Like the police service, salaries in the public sector are relatively low
and the corrupt public servants who have decided to augment their incomes by illicit means
would have been more easily coopted because the chances of discovery and prosecution
are so slim.
Given the ease with which the drug lords have been able to penetrate the
department housed in the same building as the country's two Houses of Parliament,
Government's decision to relocate the office of the Registar General is definitely a prudent
one, as even those offices run the risk of being compromised.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar's department may definitely be in need of computerization,
but what is ultimately going to prevent anyone from accepting the blandishments of the drug
barons is the high probability of detection and vigorous prosecution. It is up to the
Government to ensure that these exist.
















APPENDIX E
INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'SOCIAL ILLS'



Waiting to happen Wednesday, September 10, 1997
THE MOST striking aspect about the Chaguaramas accident that took the lives of
four people was not the number who died, but that so many people survived given the
circumstances surrounding the vehicular mishap.
According to newspaper reports yesterday, the car in which the victims were
travelling, returning home from a day at the beach in Chagville, contained 12 people.
Toyota Cressidas like the one driven by Augustus Lewis, as taxis are licensed to carry five
passengers. What on earth could have convinced the two adults who were in that car that
it was safe for 12 people, even allowing for the fact that the other occupants were children
with ages ranging from two to 17?
But that was not all. Not only did they cram themselves into the car, but they did
so with a driver who was admittedly drunk, and who had threatened to kill himself if they
did not let someone else take the wheel.
According to Ronnie Letren, one of the survivors of the accident, while on their
way to Port of Spain, Lewis, the driver, began speaking of killing himself, his fiancee,
Brenda Simmons, and her daughter, Aschell. But the other occupants of the car took it as
a joke until he drove the vehicle into a truck parked at the side of the road.
Brenda's sister Eleanor Simmons, went even further, and said that Lewis had
been making similar comments while on the beach. She quoted him as suggesting that
Akeen Simmons, one of those critically injured in the car, be allowed to drive or else I will
kill myself, Brenda and her daughter." Akeen is only 13.
It is easy on occasions like these to transfer blame to the police, the government
or some distant party whose intervention could have prevented the tragedy.
But as harsh at it may seem, the adult victims of that tragic crash must share
some of the blame for putting their lives in the hands of a drunk driver with suicidal
tendencies in an overcrowded vehicle. It is even more tragic that among the dead and
injured are children who were placed in a helpless situation by either a parent or an
irresponsible adult.
If there are any lessons to be learnt from this tragedy it is that we should always
remember that we hold our lives in our own hands. Given the rising incidence of suicide
no one should easily dismiss threats by anyone to take their own life. Had the occupants
of that ill fated vehicle taken up the driver's offer to pass the keys (although certainly not
to a 13-year-old), the road fatality figure may have been four fewer today.
Most accidents can be prevented by exercising the proper care and precaution.
When however, people throw care and caution to the wind, a highly probable
outcome is the tragedy we had in Chaguaramas on Sunday evening.
















APPENDIX F
INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL CODED 'UNC/NEGATIVE'



Outright lies Monday, January 12, 1998
What little credibility remains to the Panday government (as it was repeatedly
labeled in the Minister of Finance's budget speech) must surely have been exhausted by
the lies told inside and outside of Parliament over Ken Soodhoo's appointment to a post on
the NP executive.
Ambiguities, evasions and outright lies are obviously a prime weapon in the political
arsenal of UNC Ministers. Sadiq Baksh claimed that Ernst and Young had approved the
methodology of the airport contracts; Reeza Mohammed claimed IDB approval of his hiring
practices, and smeared Wendell Mottley in the ADB bad debt row. Now, Brian Kuei Tung
falsely assures the public that Mr. Soodhoo's post was advertised, when the NP Board itself
says it was not, and pours scorn on the very idea.
The statements by Energy Minister Finbar Gangar and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan,
Chairman of NP Marketing Company, though perhaps not outright lies, are as close to
falsehood as makes no difference. Seepersad-Bachan's claim that big corporations do not
advertise their posts takes no account of the fact that NP is a big corporation only in local
terms, and furthermore is a State enterprise. It also does not satisfy the public that Soodhoo
did not create the post himself. In fact, the Board's release to the media strongly suggests
that he did, for it openly states that it was Soodhoo who, while still on the Board, developed
the project of which the job was a part.
The most blatant example of misinformation, though, is the assurance given by the
Minister and the Board that correspondence with First Citizens Bank showed Soodhoo to be
clean". The Bank's letter was in fact a non-reply to a non-question. Far from clearing
Soodhoo, nothing could have been better calculated to stoke the suspicions of any potential
employer really interested in the truth. That the Minister himself realizes this is shown by his
remark that FCB's letter contained no evidence of wrongdoing that they were willing to
share."
A person who has been accused of embezzlement and fired by one State concern
is not hired by another to manage $203 million of public funds, even if the job is a real one.
Would Finbar Gangar, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan or anyone on the NP board hire such a
person to manage their own money?
Unfortunately, their casual attitude to financial propriety, and the admiration many in
this country have always accorded to smartmen, suggest that they might. The Soodhoo
appointment is also further evidence of the network of relationships, political and social, that
plays so important a role in the management practices of the UNC administration.
The record of the present government is littered with instances of Ministers (and all
its members are Ministers) lying to Parliament, without censure and without apology. This
not only reveals a basic weakness in our polity. It also leads the public to wonder what other
misdeeds have been committed under cover of lies.















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Cassandra Debra Cruickshank was born on May 12, 1975, in San Fernando,

Trinidad. She attended high school there and moved to Texas in 1994 to complete an

undergraduate degree in journalism. In 1997, shortly after her marriage, she moved to

Gainesville, Florida, and began her graduate education. In 2005 after having served four

years in the United States Navy, she completed a Master of Arts in Mass

Communications and continued her military career as a Navy journalist.