Minister Balderamos Garcia chastises 7 News on sensationalism and irresponsible journalism
Tonight, the Minister of Human Development, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, is asking Channel 7’s News Director, Jules Vasquez, to “check himself”. Garcia’s comment comes after the media house was chastised for what was dubbed as “sensational” coverage of a sexual assault incident involving a medical doctor in the south. Vasquez was sent a strongly worded letter in which the ministry says the news piece re-victimized the woman and released sensitive details of what the victim described in her complaint. In their defence, Reporter Cherisse Halsall told the minister that a friend of the victim had sent an email to Channel Seven’s News Director, asking that the victim’s story be told. Despite that claim, however, Minister Balderamos-Garcia says the media house was negligent in its reporting of the authorities’ response to the allegations.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs: “We honestly believe, and we have proof of this, that that kind of sensational reporting can do more damage than good. The public has a right to know and the journalism – “
Reporter: have a duty to tell.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs: “The public has a right to know and so the journalists have a duty to tell but there are limits to freedom of expression and there are limits to how you report things. I can tell you please you know I may be stepping over a little line here but I can tell you that the damage that has been done and we are well aware of this and the special envoy herself can tell you the damage that has been done because of that particular report is grave because what it does is it further victimizes and re victimizes the person who suffered the injustice. What I also want to say is that it is not correct to be twisting things you know. It was said at the end of that news item that the inaction of the authorities caused the young lady to do the thing that she least wanted to do and that was to make a police report. Now what kind of reporting and twisting of facts is that? The authorities did not – let me put it this way there was no inaction on the part of the authorities. Not everything I do to help women, and I have advocated for women for 40 years, not everything that I do I have to go and talk it out there. I acted immediately on getting that report even though I never received a hard copy of that particular letter, immediately I got that report I acted. That’s speaking for myself now. As far as the Ministry of Health is concerned I believe that they put the matter to the Public Service Commission and also to the medical council but this young lady I can report to you faithfully is suffering a lot because of the way that story was presented, the detail that it went into and the twisting, the journalistic twisting for sensationalism and tabloid journalism that is unacceptable in beliefs today.”
Minister Balderamos-Garcia explained that the Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children, Rossana Briceno had communicated with the victim, who told her that she is ashamed and don’t care to go out into the public.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs: “We felt in protecting her that it was necessary to at least call for restraint on the part of the media and like I said, what else do you want me to say? We know that the young lady is very disappointed in the sensationalism and the type and the way that that was reported. I’m upset about this. You can go and speak to the broadcasting authority themselves but really we have found that Channel 7 has gone too far in terms of this kind of reporting at times.”
Reporter: I have one more question I just want you to clarify something minister. Journalists in general will have a problem with your statement that there are limits to freedom of expression. Can you clarify that for me?
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs: “Absolutely. There is the general overall good of the society and then there is also an individual’s right to privacy and that is where the limits come. No freedom is unfettered. You go right in the constitution and you can say we have freedom in our country but my freedom ends where somebody else’s rights come into play and that is why I absolutely stand by the statements I’m making this morning.”
Reporter: However and this is the last thing if you came to find out that indeed as I have said and as I know to be true that the young lady wanted the detail out there what then would be your opinion?
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs: “If she wanted the detail out there why is she suffering now and doesn’t even want to come out of her house? That’s the only question I can ask so there is something that maybe is not jiving here in the way that it should but please let me repeat I request and I’m going to be respectful here please check yourself and Mr. Vasquez check yourself.”
Love News understands that the Minister Dolores Balderamos has made a report against Channel Seven to the Belize Broadcasting Authority.