Remarks by Ambassador John L. Estrada at World Press Freedom Day Workshop

Ambassador John L. Estrada speaking at the World Press Freedom Workshop

At Public Affairs Section, Briar Place, Sweet Briar Road, Port of Spain

AS PREPARED 

Thank you Kiran Maharaj

Mr. Daren Lee Sing, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters’ Association

Mr. Wesley Gibbings of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM)

Mr. Juan Miguel Diez, Director of the United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean.

Members of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT)

Visiting U.S. journalists Jim Clancy, Allison Bethel-McKenzie and Mercedes Vigon

Other presenters Mr. Julian Rogers and Ms. Jewel Forde…

Members of the media – both participants and those working…

Good morning.

I am happy to be here with you to celebrate World Press Freedom Day and kick off what I know will be an informative and useful workshop.

I just concluded a meeting with visiting U.S. journalists and told them that the press here in Trinidad and Tobago is filled with very talented people and a robust press.   I am happy to see so many of you here with us, this morning.

I must say I am pleased on how the press has covered my arrival and brief tenure thus far.  I look forward to making myself available to you in the very near future.  The work you do is very important and we appreciate and support your efforts.

The U.S. Embassy works closely with local journalists, but also with the professional associations in supporting capacity building programs and workshops like this one.  We appreciate the partnership of TTPBA, MATT, and the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, and look forward to continuing these partnerships in the future.

Encouraging a free and responsible press is one of our strategic goals, supporting the larger goal of governance—strengthening local institutions so they better serve the people.

Throughout the world today, U.S. Embassies are hosting workshops and events in honor of World Press Freedom Day.  In many of those countries, journalists do not enjoy the freedoms that you exercise every day.

As Secretary John Kerry said: “Freedom of expression is one of our country’s core values and one which we will continue to defend both at home and overseas.”

Here in Trinidad and Tobago, press freedom is enshrined in the law and valued by society.

But with freedom comes responsibilities.

The trainers today will focus on issues of standards and integrity. They will explore with you the tension that can exist between getting an interesting story, and being faithful to the truth.

Journalists all over the globe, including the U.S. and T&T, wrestle with the challenges of journalistic integrity.  Some of our journalists, especially in the digital arena, can rush to judgment and publish a story before doing the necessary research and fact-checking.

To me, it all comes down to leadership.  And leadership can come from anywhere in the hierarchy.

If you demonstrate moral courage, show respect for all you come in contact with, and model integrity—you’re a leader.  No matter whether you’re the Editor- in-Chief, or a junior reporter.

There are journalists in other parts of the world who are being repressed, punished, even killed, for practicing their profession.  The best way to honor them is to maintain the highest standards possible, show leadership and moral courage, and give your best efforts at all times.

If you do this, then you will keep the press, and the people, of Trinidad and Tobago free.

Thank you very much.