May 19, 2022

The Editor Speaks: Rivers rushes at media

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Colin WilsonwebWhilst iNews Cayman did not join the chorus of where, why and what is Tara Rivers Cayman’s Education and Employment Minister doing in Johannesburg, nor did we call to question who was paying for her trip, we were surprised at the lack of silence by the government on the matter.

I was modified when at last we got the answer and we published the official release and I wrote an Editorial titled “Mystery Solved” see The Editor Speaks published September 9 2013 at:

It is therefore with some shock to receive a press release on Tuesday (10) from her ministry attacking the media and almost claiming we have been discriminating against her.

We have written “hasty and ill-informed reports” she says and then comes up with this statement:

“It is unfortunate that what is considered normal and expected participation of parliamentarians at such important conferences, especially women parliamentarians whose participation is actively encouraged by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (“CPA”), has been dealt with in this manner by the local media.

“The unfortunate coincidence and irony is that one of the main topics of discussion at the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians conference was the discriminatory way in which women parliamentarians are often treated by the media in their respective countries. Discrimination against women in any and all forms is unacceptable and should not be perpetuated in the media or otherwise.”

Oh come on M/s Rivers. I have read every media story concerning your trip to Johannesburg and nowhere has there been one hint of discrimination against you because you are a woman.

Yes, I agree, I couldn’t really understand what the other media outlets fuss was about and therefore until we had received the official release explaining your trip iNews refrained from commenting on it.

She claimed that her plans were in plain view of the people, as she says, “posted information about my whereabouts and activities on my social media pages, but what the local media needs to appreciate is that we are in a new era of government and now is not the time to be sensationalising issues that have very simple explanations. Responsible journalism and understanding of the negative consequences of hasty and ill-informed reporting is paramount to stability and good governance. To carry on in any other manner is not good for our country or the media in which it is reported.”

In an unveiled crack at the Caymanian Compass Rivers said, “From the obvious haste in which the articles were put together and the unreasonable time frame requested for a response to questions received at the 11th hour, coupled with the content of the article and editorial, it is clear that the intention was to impart controversy at the expense of the truth.”

“I do not expect to be above questioning or even criticism by the press that is part and parcel of being an elected official. I do, however, expect to be treated equitably and with respect by the press. It’s disappointing that there was more importance given to rolling out a salacious story before the weekend, fueled from a one sided, ill-informed perspective, than to reporting from a balanced and informed perspective,” she complained.

M/s Rivers it is difficult to obtain a balanced and informed perspective when silence is the answer to media questions.

We received a government release saying Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was travelling to South Africa for the CPA meeting and would not preside over last week’s parliamentary meeting. We were told opposition leader, McKeeva Bush, would also be attending. We even received a release saying Education and Employment Minister Tara Rivers WOULD BE ON LEAVE and Winston Connolly would be sworn in as a temporary minister in her place.

There was no mention that the Education and Employment Minister was going to be joining the delegation in Johannesburg.

It is not really fair to the media to say we have to go to a minister’s social network to find out what he or she is doing. Social networking is exactly that  – social. It is not official.

The fault lay with the government press offices. They had plenty of time to dispel the rumours and “hasty and ill-informed reporting”.

As far as I was concerned the whole thing was a nothing story. I agree with Rivers when she also said the coverage was a ‘storm in a teacup’. So why has she turned it into what is bordering on a hurricane.

I have always had the highest respect for you, M/s Rivers and I have told you that to your face and congratulated you on your handling of the distasteful election challenge that is still going on. Just because I have and still hold the same respect for you it cannot stop me commenting on what I feel is an ill advised and wrongful attack on the media with quite frankly a disgraceful and untrue claim of discrimination against you because you are a woman.



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