Minister Lake reacts to healthy yellow journalism debate;

Says Sint Maarten Freedom of Speech and Press well and alive

Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake says he welcomes the debate here and abroad in other parts of the Kingdom with respect to his proposal related to ‘yellow journalism’ and responsible journalism.


‘Yellow journalism’ is described as a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell news.

"A healthy debate is always good and one of my objectives was to generate a discussion. I do feel that some have missed the point I was making in my letter to the Council of Ministers which I wholeheartedly shared with the media and public. I am not calling for any measures that would infringe upon the freedom of the press. This is far from the truth.

"I am not regulating or imposing rules on a free press or trying to muzzle the media. The press can ask how many questions they want and I am ready and willing to answer them whenever called upon, but it must be done in a respectful and professional manner.

"I have a great relationship with all members of the press. The freedom of the press and speech I know is already regulated by law and safeguarded. Journalist and publishers that break those laws expose themselves to lawsuits and in some cases criminal prosecution.

"My point was that Government needs to get back to basics and have a press briefing code with a criterion for journalist to attend press briefings. How can some journalist attend Government press briefings without a work permit for the Country?

"I do believe that the majority of the Sint Maarten media are responsible journalist, however, I have heard from a few of them how they view others who do not carry out their job in a responsible and professional manner. The media sector needs to set up an association which would further enhance its profession," Minister Maurice Lake said on Tuesday.

Minister Lake added that he would like to see existing laws reviewed where it concerns internet news and blogs and other forms of social media such as Facebook.

"We need to draw a line in terms of how people feel they can do or say anything about anyone and get away with it. In this case you have a wild wild west and we can’t have that. Gossip sites and others should be held responsible for the actions of others who abuse by posting slanderous comments about individuals anonymously. IP addresses should be available.

"In many countries around the world, the Government works with media accreditation standards for press conferences. Tom or Mary can’t just walk off the street and attend a Government press conference without presenting the proper media credentials.

"This is not acceptable in Holland or in other countries that have standards in place. We are not a banana republic, and it is up to us as Country Sint Maarten to set the standards and accreditation without infringing on freedom of the press in any manner or form. Let’s work together to raise media standards in our new country which would be in the interests of all those especially those who read the news," Minister Lake said.