Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2013 Contents A38
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, July 23, 2013
On Saturday, a sizeable media contingent respond-
ed to a call by outgoing secretary Francesca Hawkins.
By then, Hawkins was the cheese who stood alone.
Every other member had resigned, and the last mem-
ber of a beleaguered executive was faced with a
choice of either turning the lights out and locking
the door or trying one last time to muster support
for the organisation.
The turnout at Saturday s meeting was typical of
the cycles that the organisation has experienced over
When the Media Association of T&T (MATT) is
central to a news story, usually a perceived threat to
press freedom, it takes centre stage, the rest of the
time it s ignored like an ungainly mime, barely able
to muster a quorum for its general meetings.
This isn t likely to be surprising for anyone who
has been involved in any public interest civic group
in this country.
Such gatherings of professional people tend to thrive
when there is obvious mutual benefit to the assemblies.
MATT has always been more popular when there
have been matters that needed a response that rep-
resents the perspective of journalists and least inter-
esting when it has sought to engage the contemplation
of its body politic.
I should note, in the interests of full disclosure that
I ve served on MATT s executive as assistant secretary
for a couple of years between 2010 and 2011.
I resigned for personal reasons after I realised one
Old Year s evening that
I couldn t sit through
another meeting of the
team as long as one,
That version of the
would, ultimately, be
crippled by its own
ambitions. There was
few people to actually
get it done that the
stumbled from project
to project, driving far
too few of its ambi-
tions plans to comple-
My virulent personal
dislike aside, I d had
no real issues with MATT despite my annoyance at
having only a folder full of meeting minutes on my
computer to show for all those meetings at Judy Ray-
mond s house.
The most heated issues at Saturday s meeting were
a series of undeniable gaffes in the last interim com-
mittee s handling of issues arising over the last two
weeks at this newspaper.
The search for a smoking gun is understandable,
if only because such errors are sexier when ascribed
to evil than when they are explained by the banality
of situational incompetence.
My own recent experience with MATT rather
strongly predisposes me to see capacity deficiency
and personality conflict where others are keener to
see deliberation and deviousness.
I m sure the team that served along with me wanted
to make a difference, but couldn t find a point of
leverage to shift the millstones of indifference that
shackle today s media practitioners.
The media of today is a far different one from the
body that elected the very first executive.
That media was far smaller and far more serious
about the idea of a career in journalism.
Today s MATT must find relevance among en pas-
sant practitioners, profit-focused media owners and
politicians all too aware of the value of a media dis-
The need for a compelling product strategy for
MATT is a stark reality, and it s an issue that s chal-
lenged multiple elected executives and is now on its
second interim leadership team.
This new group have given themselves
four weeks to do so.
My own suspicion is that they will discover
what the executive I served with found out
in short order.
That generally, journalists in T&T have
no idea what they want MATT to do.
Unfortunately, this leaves MATT where I
first met it as an elected member of its exec-
An organisation with a noble but badly
ageing legacy. Its reputation has taken a
sound hit, but it will take more than that to
put MATT down on the...canvas?
The serious body blows it s taken recently
have diminished the organisation s already
evaporating relationship with the media peo-
ple it was created to promote increased rela-
When I left the executive, I vowed to
become the type of member the association
needs. Attending meetings, offering to help
within my area of expertise and doing what
I d promised. I haven t entirely succeeded
at those rather lofty goals, but I m working
If you work in the media or contribute
regularly to it or blog, why not join me in
making MATT better. Trust me, it s way
more fun than tearing it apart.
Matt on the search for new direction
Interim chair of MATT, Sunity Maharaj (foreground) addresses a cross section of the media
workers assembled at Nalis for an emergency meeting. PHOTO: MARK LYNDERSAY
The most heated
issues at Saturday's
meeting were a series
of undeniable gaffes
in the last interim
of issues arising over
the last two weeks at
this newspaper. The
search for a smoking
only because such
errors are sexier
when ascribed to evil
than when they are
explained by the
banality of situational
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