MATT: Breach of journalistic principles led to Crime Watch's demise

Friday, September 2, 2016 - 07:45

The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) has responded to the termination of the Crime Watch programme on CNC3, saying it's view is that a breach of journalistic principles ultimately led to the demise of the show.

MATT says it hopes that journalistic best practice is adopted, if the show is to be resumed.

The following is MATT's statement:

SEE ALSO: Ian Alleyne calls for peace; thanks Guardian Media for giving him platform for Crime Watch

"Yesterday CNC3 became the third successive media house to sever business relations with the Crime Watch programme and its host/producer, Ian Alleyne.

The breakdown of this relationship illustrates again that without serious commitment to sound journalistic principles and conventions by media owners and individual producers, investigative programming and reporting content inevitably succumb under ethical, legal and public scrutiny.

While some viewed Crime Watch as sensational reality TV, the show also served a significant public interest.

Many viewers relied on it as a window into communities that are relentlessly besieged by inadequate social services and a wide range of crimes, most of which are ignored by the traditional media.

The programme on one hand bordered on exploitation of vulnerabilities while on the other hand it offered visibility and voice to citizens who were otherwise unable to access formal and timely redress through law enforcement and the judiciary.

Mr Alleyne's reports and range of interviews filmed on location—including in many outlying areas—contrasted sharply with the output of so-called crime reporting by better resourced newsrooms.

Notwithstanding these worthwhile functions, however, Mr Alleyne and media owners failed to inject basic journalistic safeguards into a promising local programme that sustained its popularity over many years and many trials.

The frequent breaches of journalistic conventions of which the show has been guilty constitute ultimately a loss of credibility by media brands.

MATT hopes that should there be a fourth incarnation of Crime Watch, its best elements that serve the public interest could be reinforced and its weaknesses addressed by consistent and meaningful investment in journalistic best practice.

On a related note, MATT rejects any and all accusations that it is compromised in this matter because its president, Ms Francesca Hawkins, is a freelance weekend news anchor at CNC3.

The MATT executive comprises seven active members from various media houses.

MATT takes this opportunity to state that whatever the shortcomings of the media industry, at no time during the term of this executive has any media house or owner exerted or attempted to exert influence over any executive member of MATT."