PORT OF SPAIN – President Paula-Mae Weekes has sought to set the record straight on what she has deemed to be irresponsible journalism, following the publication of an article in a daily newspaper which inaccurately attributed quotes to her, purportedly made while on a visit to the Women’s Prison in Arouca.
The article in question appeared in the Newsday newspaper.
In a statement on Thursday, she cautioned media against quoting her incorrectly.
“I am exasperated. Please let the media know that if I am to be quoted they should do so correctly. What has been reported in today’s Newsday is irresponsible journalism at its highest.”
Weekes visited the Women’s Prison at Golden Grove, Arouca on Wednesday – a visit she said she deliberately did not publicize. Media were not invited and no photographer was taken along on the visit to record the event.
This, she said, was done to protect the inmates’ privacy.
The president said that given the circumstances of Wednesday’s visit, she was surprised to see the report in the newspaper, and further, the quotes attributed to her.
“Even more astounding were the contents of the article. It should be understood that President Weekes does not object if the media found out about her visit and decided to report on it. What Her Excellency finds objectionable and indeed totally unacceptable is the almost total inaccuracy of the report.”
That the president visited the Women’s Prison yesterday is about the only correct statement in the entire article. When introduced, Her Excellency stated clearly she was there not to deliver an address but to listen to what the ladies had to say since it was they who had invited her to come.
Indeed, According to the article “she (president Weekes) wanted them to know that as women they could rehabilitate themselves by their thoughts, words and how they conduct themselves. She also said although they were prisoners, they should not feel isolated and should use the opportunities in prison to learn new skills and to prepare themselves for re-entry into society,” she continued.
Weekes categorically denied saying any of the above to the prisoners.
And while she acknowledged some of the ladies present may have been moved to tears, she said she gave no advice to the prisoners, nor did she pray with them as was stated in the article.
She said that it is has been her “unfortunate experience” on assuming office just under four months ago to have been subject to inaccurate reporting concerning her office, and in particular, her activities as president.
The president noted that while she has previously allowed inaccurate media reports to go by without intervention, the latest instance in the Newsday is “simply too egregious to be ignored”.
She further noted that the reporter in question under whose by-line the article is published is “a repeat and it would seem habitual offender” prompting Her Excellency to comment. (Loop TT)