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By Kenton X. Chance

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada — The role of the media in the development of the Caribbean is likely second only to that of politicians, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell told the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union 46th general assembly here on Monday.

“The education of the public through the role of the media is a critical facet of our parliamentary democratic system,” Mitchell said.

“Without that critical eye and responsible eye of the media, the society will not make the progress that it deserves. So the media must see itself as an important component of a developing society,” he told the gathering of regional media owners and practitioners.

“You, therefore, have a tremendous burden, and you have tremendous opportunity and responsibility. The success of which will depend on how you balance that overwhelming task,” Mitchell said, adding that the success of the media is the success of the region.

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He said professions in media are the most honorable and demanding.

“As broadcasters, you are charged with the public good. You have essentially signed up for public service, and with that, for all the other ills such as public pressure, and public regulation. Most of all, you have signed up to work for the public interest,” he said.

He said public interest does not simply mean what interests the public.

“Public interests are many and varied, and you have an inescapable responsibility to serve all of those interests.”

He said the job of media professionals is not only “to sell to the public but to build the public’s character and intelligence — to expand the minds of the public”.

Mitchell described the media as the soul and conscience of a nation.

“Mark Twain once said, ‘Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul’,” Mitchell said.

The Prime Minister said that too often the media have an agenda to hurt someone or a group of persons, and carelessly pursue that agenda, with no regard for the public good.

He further warned the media against being involved in the show business.

“Your job is not merely to be in a popularity contest. In fact, I don’t think media people could be very popular. You should not be. Not with the politician, not with anybody,” Mitchell said.