Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner (FP)

The time has come for society, in particular journalists and media practitioners, to make a sustained and principled stand against poverty, ignorance and violence.

That is the view of Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner.

She was speaking today at the United Nations Population Fund’s sensitisation and familiarisation workshop on ???The Media and the Development Agenda at UN House, Marine Gardens.

Senator Sandiford-Garner queried the media’s role in highlighting the reluctance of the developed world to help solve the problems that were plaguing the developing world, especially the unnecessary suffering of the poor.

She told the media practitioners not to underestimate their power to mobilise the masses for good or evil, and to try to affect change and to report unbiased, accurate information from reliable sources.

The Senator questioned why the media remained "relatively silent" concerning the issue of the spread of the drug culture in the Caribbean.

She said she was "pained" by the fact that these issues had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable members of our society, including the lower classes, and particularly women and children, who bore the brunt of "these social deprivations".

Mrs. Sandiford-Garner conceded that there was a degree of sensationalism in news gathering with people preferring to learn about a shooting at a night club, rather than learning about Barbados’ development plans since independence.

The Parliamentary Secretary contended that in addition to facilitating the flow of information, media workers helped to define reality and decided what was newsworthy. She reminded the media that they served as watchdogs to alert society about the threats to our well-being.

She also advised the media practitioners that they had the capacity to hold everyone accountable, including governments, forcing them to explain their actions and decisions.

The one-day workshop attracted 30 journalists from across the region.

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