On Monday, Hema and Keith of CNC 3 interviewed Lennox Grant and Peter Richards on standards in the media. Very interesting.
They said what we have been saying all along - the media managers need to take responsibility for training of staff, but the bottom line is usually the deciding factor; it's cheaper to hire someone with less qualifications and try to turn them into journalists, than to hire someone already trained or even to train existing staff. Lenny said it best about this philosophy - "stick them in front of a camera and they will perform."
Peter said critical analysis of issues is missing from the daily news, and we can only expect that in the columns on Sundays. He suggested, as we have done time and time again, that reporters need to look at the foreign networks, CNN, BBC, MSNBC, etc., to see how things are done.
Keith you asked a good question, whether editors actually re-read stories written by their reporters (again we have asked that question repeatedly). It cannot be left up to the reporters to vet their own work. Someone must be held accountable when stories are printed or aired with one-sided views, or incorrect information.
But again Lenny said there is always pressure on the bottom line and the fact that managers are mandated to cut costs and find cheaper solutions to doing things, and he pointed to the 'dumbing down' of news. This in turn led to the point Peter made about the death of investigative journalism in Trinidad and Tobago.
All of you who consider yourselves investigative journalists take note; getting a tip this morning and breaking your neck to get the lead story tonight or the front page tomorrow does not an investigative piece make. It takes months or years to really develop a piece to the point where you cover all sides of an issue, with the necessary in-depth research. If this is not done, then you can say you've done a good story or feature, but not an investigative piece.
Lenny said investigative journalism is a state of mind - one looks at the imbalance in society and tries to uncover the truth.
It does not mean writing a story solely based on a tip from a 'source'.
Peter also made the point that many people in the media become prima donnas once they have been on tv or in the media spotlight for a while (we say that all the time and get criticized for it).
And last but by no means least Peter said it seems that reporters do not read or look at the work of their competitors. That's why we compare stories. Your work as a reporter is not in a vacuum. You must read and look at the work of other journalists, local and international, in order to improve your craft and give your viewers/readers value for money.
Thanks for an interesting interview guys.