From left: Journalists Junior Jarvis and Kenton X. Chance and Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar.

A senior reporter at one of the nation’s newspapers told Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar on Wednesday he is “disappointed” that I-Witness News was allowed to attend a media briefing about closure of the St. Vincent Cocoa Company.

“First of all, I got the impression that this was supposed to be a meeting for the print media. While I don’t have a problem with other media houses being here, but I think it gave an unfair advantage to somebody who operates a blog … I don’t think they respect the — what I believe is the concept that you wanted the print media …” Junior Jarvis, senior reporter at Searchlight newspaper told Caesar.

The minister responded, “Yes”.

Jarvis further said that is the reason why the television stations were not allowed to attend the press briefing, to which the Minister responded, “Right.”

“I would like to put on record my disappointment that that was allowed,” Jarvis said in reference to I-Witness News attending the press conference.

(Read also: Cocoa Company says SVG operation not ‘viable’)

Kenton X. Chance, executive editor of I-Witness News, the leading news and current affairs website in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, attended Wednesday’s press briefing, at the invitation of the Ministry of Agriculture.

I-Witness News on Saturday broke the story of the Cocoa Company closing its operation, and interviewed Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on the development on Monday.

When he arrived at Wednesday’s press conference, Chance, who is also a correspondent for a regional news agency, and whose website also publishes videos, told the minister that he would like to videotape the briefing.

The minister said he would prefer if that is not done, and offered to give a video interview after the press briefing.

During the question section of the press conference, Chance asked Minister Ceasar to say why he did not want the press conference videotaped.

“I just wanted to have an open conversation with you. I wanted you to be able to be free to ask certain things, and I wanted, not the formality. But I have never been fearful of formal press conferences and I am open to do one at the end of the six weeks, when I have a better grasp of have it would have evolved within the six weeks,” Caesar said.

Asked if the local television stations were invited to the press conference, the Minister said, “I am not aware that they were invited.”

Chance then asked to be excused from the press conference, since, as he had indicated to the minister earlier that he had another engagement.

Jarvis made his comments after Chance left the press conference.

At the end of the press conference, the minister said, “I would just like to put on record, just like when I started, that it was really for the print media.”

However, at no point did he indicate that the press conference was only for print media.

“I think you should have said that,” Jarvis responded.

“But we allowed it,” the minister further said.

I-Witness News is not aware of any other occasion when a ministry or department of the government has had a press briefing for any one section of the media.

Prime Minister Gonsalves holds press conferences with all sections of the media, and his office and the state-owned Agency for Public Information send public information material intended for the media to the various media forms.

The Ministry of Agriculture has been known in the past to call specific journalists, rather than editors and newsroom managers, to inform them of press conferences. It is not clear if it still engages in this practice.

Commenting on Wednesday about the development, Chance wrote on Facebook that in an interview with technology blog ThaDailyGeek, published Tuesday night, when asked about challenges that I-Witness News has faced, he said, “Some media entities and their agents have not been very subtle in their efforts to undermine, seemingly with a view to protecting their own interest.”

While it is the first time a journalist has “put on record” his disappointment with a colleague being invited to a press briefing, I-Witness News and freelancers have had to struggle with the Public Relations Department of the Police Force to receive their public information notices, in the face of what then head of the Department, ASP Jonathan Nichols, said was a policy that they only sent the releases to “media houses”.

The Police Force has since reversed that “policy”.

Chance is a Taiwan-trained journalist, who holds a first-place honours Bachelors of Arts degree in journalism and mass communication and a first-place Master of Arts degree in international affairs.

He founded I-Witness News in 2009, as part of requirement for his journalism and mass communication programme.

Since then, he has partnered with NetMedia Information Solutions, an independent website design, corporate identity and internet marketing business based in Vermont, St. Vincent, to position I-Witness News as the leading source of breaking and daily news and current affairs information in SVG.

14 replies on “Reporter ‘disappointed’ I-Witness News allowed to attend press briefing”

  1. Peter Binose says:

    The exclusion of any part of the media must be seen as an attempt to gag the media.

    I dare say the young journalist who objected was told to object by his editor or/and his proprietor as a spite thing against Kenton Chance.

    They hate his success. To be first with the news, to be the leading, primary, and first source of news at home and abroad is a great choker for several of SVG’s government influenced newspapers.

    I just hope this is not a government/newspaper proprietor conspiracy to stifle Mr Chance.

    1. Hang about! If IWN constitutes a blog (and I do not know whether or not it does) I don’t see a reason for them to be invited to a press conference, otherwise, how do you define what is the press?
      After all, anyone of us can start a blog, I have; does that mean that I should attend a government press conference?
      Is IWN a blog?

  2. Allan Palmer says:

    The Gentleman has a valid point. If the briefing was meant or intended for the primted media then that should have been stick to. In all honesty a blog has certain advantage that the printed media don’t and the blogger operate with a minimal overhead where the printed media has a fix overhead to begin with that continue to expand depending on circumstances.

    So Jarvis was right with his complaint. But who can expect the ULP politicians to keep their words?

  3. C. Franklyn says:

    In the strictest of senses, I suppose IWN is a blog, but the word is still anchored in its nascent opinionated, free-lance past. Blogs have become more sophisticated and relevant as the internet predicated on internet proliferation and development.

    We are seeing here the same antagonism faced by Politico for example which takes away considerable market share from standard print outfits like the Washington Post. The preponderance of technology, coupled with the bustling more complex lifestyles of the 21st century favors the IWN format.

    Breaking news ought not to wait till Friday, IWN has demonstrated it can engage in hard, ba;lanced, accurate journalism and perhaps it too is slowly taking market share form the more analogue formats.

    It is a harder environment but perhaps instead of complaining, they too can innovate and differentiate. They have the “feel in the hand” advantage but needs to find other points of differentiation.

  4. The world famous New York Times went from print media to online content, so i guess this now makes them a blog an no longer an official news organization? CNN does not produce print media, does this make their website a blog?

    Last month laptops were given to secondary school students, the month after we forcing them to only get most of their news via print media? On a weekly versus daily frequency, is there something am not getting here?

  5. This issue requires a sober reply. The complainant is misinformed as it relates to the impact of modern information technology on traditional Media sources. A little research can help with that transition. Online Media are valid/potent sources of information dissemination. It is the nature of our competitive environment. I function as a TV-Media Reporter/Analyst/Presenter in BVI among four Online, one Radio and two Print News Media sources. We all have a niche market. From the TV side JTV Ch.55 has been challenged to explore online routes. We are now found at jtvlive.net, Youtube and Facebook. That is the nature of Media conversation.

  6. Watching Hard says:

    Is Jarvis living in the 21st century or not? Online media is the new reality and the SVG media just need to accept it. Yes a blog has certain advantages over print media, but print media need to understand that and learn to be competitive. Every newspaper today worth its salt has an online presence with new stories and features every single day. Every newspaper worth its salt enables users to interact by having a comment feature on its website. You can’t just hold your breath, keep your fingers crossed and hope that we remain in a 20th century reality.

    If Kenton can make that kind of investment and be a success there is absolutely no reason why a relatively much bigger entity like Searchlight can’t do the same. This is the problem with us Vincentians. We are the slowest to make any kind of progress in the Caribbean.

  7. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

    ALL the media should have been there. So blogs and TV put out the news before a print medium. Hello! wake up Rip van Winkle! This is the 21st century where this is happening all over the world. If a blog post doesn’t inform people abut what is happening, then Facebook or Twitter will do so. Then there are all those messaging apps. Do our reporters not realize that news can be sent to people in the diaspora who then send messages back to relatives here asking what’s happening – even before the locals get the news from a blog? So what are we going to do? Try. like the PM of Turkey, to shut down social media sites? Even the Chinese with thier massive censorship system and firewall to keep out western social media, have not been able to stop the rapid spread of news through their indigenous media like Weibo.

    I read The Economist – a weekly publication like our newspapers – despite the fact that I have heard the international news as it happens on BBC or CNNI, because The Economist then gives analyses, opinion, extra information on all the news I’ve already heard. Our newspapers, on the other hand, print press releases verbatim, or just tell us what the Minister, CEO, Manager or PRO said at the press conference without any analysis of what took place. In this particular case, I’ll look to see which, if any, of our newspapers think of interviewing some of the cocoa farmers to get their take on what’s going on, or members of the public to see what they think about the closure, and who will just regurgitate the handout and/or speeches. That would be interesting, and a feature that a weekly newspaper can add, that I’m unlikely to get in a blog; and that would be more to the point, instead of trying to exclude some forms of public media.

  8. Cus, I believe all media outlets – printed or otherwise has a right to be at any government press conference. What are they afraid of unless they are telling untruth? All issues that affect the public should be open to Tom, Dick and Harry. No one should be excluded. To give priority to one media over others is the same process happening in SVG dealing with disasters. In those cases, only ULP supporters are helped.
    The minister should not be involved in media competition. Saboto was setup by Ralph to be the person responsible for the cocoa venture failure. His statement already put the ball in Saboto and his people court, while he took himself out of the picture.

  9. Peter Binose says:

    My other problem is that newspapers go to the government news conferences as tame, perhaps even lame dogs, they fail to ask currenly pertinent questions and they fail to print exactly what is going on.

    The citizens are kept in the dark by these toilet paper class failures. Its my opinion that at least two of the three newspapers are under the influence of government.

    If it wasn’t for online sites such as IWN and many others, we would be ignorant of how we are being tricked and duped by this current government.

    Snog, Grog, Smog, Blog, whatever it is called, if they gather and diseminite news they are as valid, perhaps more so than any newspaper. Newpapers have not got any rights of protection against other types of newsmedia. That includes blogs, online news media, television. Pathe Pictorial News at the cinemas had the same problem in the 1960’s, they were seen by the news papers as a threat to the printed word.

    I have stopped reading two of DVG’s news papers, not because of the online media that I visit. But because they are very boreing and fail to print exactly what is going on. The editors and owners suck up to the government and Prim Minister. To me those two papers have become redundant.

  10. Jonathan C Nicholls says:

    Mr.Chance, I am innot sure of your motive in mentioning my name in this issue. Kindly permit me to remind you that members of the police PR dept. communicate on behalf on the police force as directed and guided by policies from the COP. I thought I had made that clear to you back then. And my brother, until otherwise assigned, I am still head of the dept. Peace

  11. J Archibald says:

    Keep up the good work Kenton Chance… because of your unbiased reports, I am better able to understand and be kept up-to-date with current events in St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

Comments are closed.