Govt blocking media from press conferences
Despite campaigning on transparency and accountability, the Minnis government is seeking to block reporters from attending or asking questions at two major press conferences planned for this week.
Ironically, one of those press conferences is to discuss the Freedom of Information Act.
On Friday, the media was advised that Attorney General Carl Bethel will hold a press conference on Sunday, 2 May 2021 at 3:00 p.m. at the Office of the Attorney General to announce the appointment of the Information Commissioner and Deputy Information Commissioner, and the official opening of the Freedom of Information Office.
However, minutes later, reporters were informed “BIS will be the only one allowed to cover and will disseminate the information from the AG’s Office.”
Reporters sought clarification on whether they would be able to ask Bethel questions via Zoom. However, they were informed they could ask no questions, would not be part of the press conference at all and would later receive a video link to pick clips from the AG’s statement.
Then on Sunday, the media was advised, “The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction
Briefing on Disaster Preparedness Month will no longer be holding a Press Conference at 3pm.”
“The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction will instead hold an on camera briefing at 3pm. There will be no reporters in the room. B.I.S will provide a video and audio feed for any media house that wants to either carry a live broadcast of the briefing or record the feed to use at a later time.”
“B.I.S will also be distribute a WeTransfer link of the briefing video and audio within in the hour following the recording of the briefing.”
The decision to shut the media out once again was equally shocking as the new Disaster Minister is former broadcast journalist Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe. Though Parker-Edgecombe spent most of her career at ZNS, which is the unofficial mouthpiece for the government and uses its broadcasts to kowtow to cabinet ministers, she should know better.
Then again, the only reason Parker-Edgecombe received a cabinet appointment is because the Minnis Administration faced intense backlash after the resignation of Social Services Minister Lanisha Rolle resulted in an all-male cabinet.
What message is the Minnis Administration sending to the country when it is moving towards silencing the media instead of answering important questions posed in an effort to educate and inform the public?
When reporters ask tough decisions, they are often met with contempt and disrespect by the prime minister and members of his cabinet. However, while in opposition, Minnis and his party members secretly applauded reporters for holding the former administration’s feet to the fire.