A new report released by Reporters Without Borders asserts that ‘many media outlets’ in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are under the direct influence of politicians, especially during elections.
The organisation’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index says it’s because officials can withdraw state advertising at any time and deprive them of income they depend on.
“In some of the Islands, political parties even own or have major shares in media companies, compromising journalistic independence,” it noted.
The report asserts that authorities are also monitoring social networks more and more closely, which encourages a degree of self-censorship.
“In 2018, reports of editorial censorship by the general manager of the Grenada Broadcasting Network brought into question the journalistic independence enjoyed by reporters working for Grenada’s largest media network,” it observed.
The publication expressed the view that Journalism is not a prestige profession in the countries that are members of the OECS.
“They receive little training and often abandon media work because it is so badly paid, an issue that particularly affects female journalists in the region,” it stated.
The OECS slipped 15 places in the press freedom ranking to 50.
It was at 35 in 2018.
One hundred and eighty countries are listed in the latest World Press Freedom Index.