Journalist or politician?
Stabroek News
February 9, 2002

Dear Editor,

I recently went to the public defense of C.N.Sharma, as a journalist, when he was violently assaulted while reporting a television news story for his station. The Press Association, Stabroek News publisher, David de Caires, the Chronicle, Adam Harris and others also condemned the vicious attack and the absence of prompt police action against the assailants as a danger to media freedom. The assailants have since been charged and are on bail.

The problem, however, that C.N. Sharma and others like Mark Benschop create for the profession, is that all too often their public persona cannot be distinguished between politician and journalist. The involvement and untenable behaviour in supporting the mini bus drivers' strike is a glaring example. Journalists report and interpret the news, they do not make it.

Many journalists have become politicians and some return to the profession. Famous names like Winston Churchill and Lord Beaverbrook, Ken Gordon in Trinidad & Tobago have been both journalist and politician, myself also, but at different times. A practicing journalist is completely compromised if a politician at the same time. A politician attempting to be a practicing journalist cannot expect the recognition and protection generally accorded to a journalist on the job in a free society.

Yours faithfully,

Kit Nascimento