76th IAPA General Assembly
October 21 - 23, 2020


The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe. Media houses cut staff, reduced salaries, and employed layoffs and redundancies. Among the cuts are journalists, photographers and videographers who cover the news.

Several incidents highlight the continuing challenge of covering the news and the dangers faced.

On May 1st the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) highlighted the challenges faced by that country's media in the wake of the government's response to the pandemic.

In a report on Press Freedom Day, MATT outlined the challenges. "Our journalists are handicapped by risks of Covid-19 infection; stay-at-home protocols keep citizen journalists indoors and insulate populations, while simultaneously suspending most of the normal channels of participatory governance and accountability."

On June 22, in Barbados, a photographer was attacked and killed while attempting to cover a story. 25-year-old Nation photojournalist Christoff Griffith was responding to a report of a body in Bishop's Court, St Michael when he was attacked and killed by a squatter.

On July 19, in Saint Lucia, journalist and talk show host Tresha Lionel was threatened by a supporter of the ruling United Workers Party government. The incident occurred in Pierrot, Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia.

In the video, Stephen Dorelien can be heard threatening to hit Lionel with his walking stick. He also threatens to spit on her to which she responded: "You cannot do that".

Prime Minister Chastanet told local reporters: "It is certainly behaviour that I would not condone." Mr Dorelien has since issued an explanation and apology via a Facebook post.

St Lucia's Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph refused to answer questions from MBC reporter Miguel Fevrier branding him an ex-convict.

The exchange between the two began when Fevrier asked the Minister for Economic Development for comment on a report he filed in June. Joseph alleged that the report amounted to criminal libel and has stated an intention for the matter to go before the courts.

Minister Joseph refused to answer questions from Choice Television's Janeka Simon, at one point branding her a politician masquerading as a journalist.

On August 18, in the lead up to the General Elections in Jamaica, TVJ videographer was detained while covering the nomination day activities in South Central St. Catherine. The police also seized his camera, which was later returned.

The videographer was filming the nomination of the PNP candidate, Kurt Matthews, at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Old Harbour Road in Spanish Town. No charges were laid.

On August 4, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines veteran social activist and broadcaster Jerry S. George died of an apparent heart attack while hosting his early morning internet show "Early in the Morning with Jerry S. George". He was a founding member of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), and of the SearchLight Newspaper in St Vincent and the Grenadines. George, in his late 60s, was a vocal social and political commentator on issues not only in his homeland, throughout the Caribbean and further afield.

In Grenada, the most notable development is that the media no longer has access to the Parliament. The excuse is that due to physical distancing, there is no space to accommodate the media, although the building is design to accommodate 200 visitors, in addition to 15 MPs, the Speaker, and the houses of parliament staff for sittings of the house.