After baseless report about fall government: Minister Lake wants action against yellow journalism

POSTED: 08/26/13 1:26 PM

St. Maarten – Vromi Minister Maurice Lake opened the attack this weekend on Bibi Shaw, a gossip-blogger who operates the SMN news website, after she published an unfounded story about the imminent fall of the government on Friday.

The headline “SWW3 government collapses – Laville pulls the plug” the website suggested that the end of the third Wescot-Williams cabinet was close to becoming a reality. Laville denied, and later DP-MP Leroy de Weever also confirmed to this newspaper that there is nothing to the story.

Minister Lake wrote a letter to the Council of Ministers (see for the full text our opinion page on page 8) in which he condemns the “yellow journalism” practiced by Shaw and in which he calls for measures “for the media in general.”

Lake proposes “a phased media accreditation policy” and suggests that journalists and publishers become part of an association that has a code of ethics. Journalists that do not abide by such a code should not be accredited, Lake wrote.

The minister also calls for a government-inspired media code, and suggests that foreign journalists that cover news on the Dutch side ought to have a work permit., “especially if they want to take part in press briefings.”

Shaw has the Guyanese or French nationality and lives on the French side. Lake states in his letter to the Council of Ministers that Shaw’s website has reported “unsubstantiated stories on many occasions” and that these stories “violate widely and universally accepted principles based on which journalists should operate.”

Minister Lake demands that the Council of  Ministers takes “a firm position” against journalists that violate universally accepted principles of journalism.”

Following the lead of the Huffington Post’s founder Arianna Huffington, Lake furthermore suggests that the government initiate legislation that requires bloggers to sign with their names when they post comments. He also suggests the establishment of press and accreditation cards “to make distinctions between resident and non-resident media houses and reporters.”

Lake also refers to a law Grenada passed in June of this year that makes it a crime to offend people through social media like Facebook and Twitter. The minister also seemingly makes a reference to blogger Judith Roumou with his statement that “we have seen people freely assume the names of prominent persons in this community to open Facebook accounts with and post derogatory comments under.”

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