Monday, January 30, 2023
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A focus on media

Congratulations to the media workers who were awarded during last weekend’s Media Awards 2022. We note the Judge’s remarks that the work was of high standard and can only hope that next year’s submissions for scrutiny will be of even higher standards.

We commend the new executive of the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) for ensuring the return of what was a much-anticipated annual event after a three-year absence. It was well executed with one missing component however, audio/visual showing or summarising the winning pieces.  

Noteworthy is MWAG president’s repeated call for unity among members as he expressed disappointment in the poor turn out to the Grenada Trade Centre Annex last Saturday. However, invitations were not issued to media houses and retired media workers for their presence. Further, since there was no RSVPs, catering for seating and food seems to have been done per chance.

Similarly, there was a poor turn out to the church service and other activities when the Association celebrated its annual Week of Activities in November. MWAG needs to communicate better.

The call for unity has been echoed over the years by previous executives. Acknowledging that there is strength when there’s unity among any grouping, this new executive now bears the task of uniting scores of practitioners, of varying age groups, talents, skill sets and mindsets. The executive should know by now that issuing a call for unity from a podium or via a news release is insufficient. We thought that the executive’s plan to visit media houses to meet one-on-one with workers to discuss issues in November was a good start in bringing this grouping on the same page, but sadly many media houses are yet to get a visit from executive members. Moreover, there are freelancers within Grenada and beyond our shores who contribute to various media products and services.

We know that balancing media work and one’s personal life is challenging; but we call on this executive to resume from where it left off in November and continue the visits to media houses; and, we suggest, with individuals. In doing so, a better understanding can be garnered of the working conditions of colleagues. When on assignments, engage colleagues to hear concerns and recommendations that can strengthen the association. The compilation of notes from the engagements should give the executive a clear picture of the reasons for the ‘disunity’ and also recommendations on how to mend the differences among each other and on how the association can better serve members.

On the stated plans for the coming year, we welcome more training opportunities with the hope that the information will be widely circulated in a timely manner and when selections have to be made for overseas travel, it will be done in a transparent and fair manner.

Is the statement by Raymond Roberts, the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony: “some of us in the media are irresponsible; but you can’t blame us, we were not given the training of the profession so take what you get!” of concern to us – media workers, managers and owners? YES. We believe the veteran media worker was not being defensive in saying the public should accept poor quality work but was driving home the importance of training. While there have been complaints that MWAG and media houses fail in providing training, Roberts stressed that “building capacity is your personal responsibility” – each worker must do what he or she can to grow in their work.

The issue of obtaining necessary information from public officials, notably from the new Cabinet for news purposes, has been a challenge over the past months. A return to the weekly post Cabinet media briefings would be a good start, giving access to ministers and senior public officers. We are glad that MWAG intends to professionally engage the government on access and push for the enactment of freedom of the press legislation. Minister Ron Redhead, in his remarks, committed to ensuring the passage of such legislation.

Many moons ago, work started on a media policy to guide the operation of media here but that stalled along the way.

Poor compensation packages and benefits have been a burning issue for media people for ages. It’s one of those factors that discourages people from entering or remaining in this noble profession. Address this, and media houses being short staffed should be reduced.

Discussion on the minimum wage has resumed and we encourage MWAG to push for the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee to include media as one of the new categories of workers whose salaries should be reviewed and increased.

We call on Minister Redhead to go a bit further than just “understanding the concerns for better renumeration packages” but to do something from his level to see a positive change in the new year.

It is disheartening that such a demanding job, requiring long hours and dedication, offers a monthly pay of under $1,000 in some cases; still, at a time when the cost of living has risen drastically in Grenada.

We echo Raymond Robert’s advice to media owners/managers to have internal developmental sessions with staff, facilitated by professionals. That augers well in having well-rounded staff who will in turn produce quality work that adds to the credibility of the news entity. And to the concern of media managers who may say they cannot afford to pay the professionals for the sessions, we suggest a trade: their professional service for advertising space. The number of ads in newspaper and on broadcast outlets indicates a steady revenue flow for the media owners.

Over the years, the notion was touted that MWAG should not only comprise reporters, journalists and camera operators but also graphic artists, anchors, producers, programme hosts, public relation officers, radio personalities, Disk Jockeys (DJs), technical personnel, editors and the like.

MWAG has been struggling for years to expand its membership base, notably those who pay monthly dues. We welcome the executive’s plan to widen its base and include these other personnel for the media awards, thereby encouraging these categories of workers to join the Association.

In conclusion, as social media competes with traditional media (radio, television, print), we urge our colleagues to use it to our advantage, remembering that in the rush to post first, be accurate and sensitive with the information.

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