Truth, transparency and accountability

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  • Dangerous territory: Donald Trump's administration has openly labelled the media the enemy of the people

    Dangerous territory: Donald Trump's administration has openly labelled the media the enemy of the people


It is no secret that in the world of politics, even in the most successful countries, truth, transparency and accountability are qualities that seldom march out front in the continuing struggle globally to protect democracy, which still provides people from every race, ethnicity or religious persuasion the opportunity to seek freedom, justice and respect.

In a world overflowing with swirling concepts about lifestyles, the free press must never shrink from the awesome responsibility of shining light on truth.

Without that unwavering commitment, democracy that is cherished by those who value having a right to free expression would be so weakened that the door for unscrupulous politicians to implement policies to suit their own objectives would never be closed. Corruption among the powerful is nothing new, and world history is packed with stories of sacrifice and suffering by those who dared to stand up for beliefs they hold as supreme for peace, decency and dignity.

A crucial quality of the free press in the democratic setting is that well-trained professionals know their task is to reveal truth, whether it reflects negatively on those in power or those seeking power. That is the goal of good journalists worldwide, and that will always be a key pillar in preserving all that democracy stands for. Whether something is popular or not should never be a factor in preventing full expression from those who oppose or support a particular policy.

Cyberspace wonders and modern electronic gadgets create a massively steady flow of truths and untruths on just about every subject, including politics. In fact, the political arena in many countries has become so clustered with streams of information that the public rely on good journalists to wade through complex material to get at the truth to inform with accuracy. They do this instead of the people having to deal with cleverly crafted press statements designed to mislead.

It happens in just about every jurisdiction. The free press in the United States is battling at present to keep its head high in the face of outright condemnation from the new administration under Donald Trump, which openly labelled the media as the enemy of the people. This came about simply because reporters refused to accept as gospel every White House statement, and fact-checking showed inaccuracies that journalists felt obliged to challenge.

With so many stumbles and fumbles at White House press briefings, the President cautioned that in place of briefings, the White House might simply issue statements. Obviously, the media did not welcome that suggestion, which would hinder efforts to keep the Government accountable.

Governments operating with transparency seldom need to fear being questioned on any issue concerning the welfare of the people. Politicians in free societies must understand that the electorate is entitled to ask any question it deems necessary to get a clear picture on any issue where there are strong differences of opinion as to what should be implemented as policy.

Bermuda in this light is no different from democracies in other parts of the world. Before elections, politicians say a number of things to try to win support, and that is accepted as a part of democratic activity. However, the populace is generally aware of this, and while they respect the process, they are wary that too often political priorities are placed above concerns of the people.

This is why throughout the free world the role of the media is highly respected by those who cherish truth and transparency.

The free press may not be perfect, but most reporters take pride in leaving no stone unturned in keeping those in authority accountable for what they say and do in the process of serving the people.

Without the free press, dictatorial regimes flourish in not having to answer to anyone. Sadly, there are parts of the world where people are still in the grip of that type of tyranny.

We can be proud here in Bermuda that no matter how opinions vary on a range of issues, the Bermudian people are capable rising above divisiveness for the good of our beautiful island. We all hope that quality never changes.

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Published May 16, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated May 16, 2017 at 7:17 am)

Truth, transparency and accountability

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