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EDITORIAL – Ever watchful, ever true

luigimarshall, [email protected]

EDITORIAL – Ever watchful, ever true

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Even with the advent of more technological methods of presenting the news, the newspaper remains the most effective medium in bringing to the attention of the ordinary voter how the Government is conducting the people’s business.
It is an historic role to which every journalist is heir, whether or not he lives up to the high standards and calling of the profession. But it is a role which is absolutely necessary in the governance of any democratic society in which the collective power of the community is temporarily ceded to elected governments to manage the affairs of state.
We often proudly recall the declaration of our first Prime Minister that we are as a nation “friend of all and satellite of none”. It is a statement that may equally declare the role and duty of the newspaper. Its editors and reporters must be friends of all and satellites of none; for the truth will come from many strange and unexpected quarters.
The humble bystander whose ears are jolted by the unfamiliar truth falling from the lips of indiscreet men of power may be as accurate a conveyer of the truth as the whistle-blower whose sense of honour and whose respect for the public interest is offended by the avaricious and corrupt behaviour of his colleagues.
When information of this nature reaches our ears, we have a duty to the public, which is second only to our prior duty to check and investigate and test the information as well as we can; adhering always to what has been called “responsible journalism”.
The scrutiny of political power is one of the areas in which the Press is at its most adversarial, for apart from the courts, there is hardly another institution which can counterbalance the enormous influence and power of the political machine. And the role of the newspaper is to hold the feet of the politicians to the fire, for that power is exercised on behalf of, and on a deputed mandate from, the people.
In every democracy it is a matter of clamant public interest if the stability of the governing political party is under credible threat, and it is equally a matter of public interest that political parties remain stable, flourish and prosper and survive, for without a two-party system at least, our freedoms may not be as secure as we would think they are.
Credible reports that 11 of 21 elected Democratic Labour Party members find it necessary to seek a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss his leadership of the Government is a matter of importance, especially because Cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament can and do influence prime ministerial action and behaviour.
We have equally reported on stability problems within the Opposition, because the function of a newspaper is to report the truth, give the people the facts, and let the readers judge the issues for themselves. We may shape opinion, but we must not and dare not manufacture the facts.
As stated earlier, we always adhere to the principles of responsible journalism as enunciated by the Privy Council when reporting matters of public concern.
As we grasp it, “responsible journalism is the point at which a fair balance is held between freedom of expression on matters of public concern and the reputations of individuals. Maintenance of this standard is in the public interest and in the interests of those whose reputations are involved. It can be regarded as the price journalists pay in return for the privilege. If they are to have the benefit of the privilege, journalists must exercise due professional skill and care. To be meaningful, this standard of conduct must be applied in a practical and flexible manner”.
That is and has been our constant mantra. So that when our newspaper’s integrity and veracity are challenged and suggestions made that we may not be speaking the truth, we are confident in standing by our stories and letting the chips fall where they may!