By Marcia Braveboy
Caribbean News Now Senior Correspondent
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- In an unprecedented development, the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) will be holding its August 24 elections via video conferencing to facilitate another section of the media industry in South Trinidad.
This means the journalists and other media personnel based in San Fernando will not have to take the usual one hour ride to Port of Spain next Saturday to participate in the elections.
“In a historic development, the August 24 elections for a new executive for the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) will be held simultaneously at locations in north and south Trinidad,” MATT’s interim management committee (IMC) said in a news release.
The facility will be organized by the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT).
According to the IMC, “The joint meeting, which starts at 10 am, will be linked via TSTT’s video-conferencing facility at TSTT House, corner of Independence Square and Edward Street in Port of Spain and TSTT’s office at 32 St James Street in San Fernando.”
While this innovative move by MATT will serve more members of the association’s body, Tobago was excluded from this arrangement. Over the years, consecutive elected MATT executive boards have failed to get the Tobago media involved in MATT.
In the release, the media association noted: “MATT’s Interim Management Committee explained that the decision to decentralize the meet was taken to encourage the widest possible attendance and participation in the election by members in south and central Trinidad.”
“Media workers have the option of attending the meeting at whichever of the two locations is most convenient to them,” MATT said.
Caribbean News Now emailed questions to the IMC in an effort to find out why Tobago was not included in the process. In response, the committee agreed that, if MATT is to be truly national, it should find a way to include Tobago. However, the IMC noted that Tobago has its own journalism association.
“The Interim Committee was told that Tobago has its own association of journalists and that there are currently no MATT members from Tobago. It will be up to the new executive to work with the media fraternity in Tobago to establish meaningful relationships. We do agree that if MATT is to be truly national, it must provide representation to the media community in Tobago,” the IMC said.
The Marlan Hopkinson-led executive had initiated the process of getting Tobagonian journalists involved in the association back in 2008; however, it has not materialized to date.
Caribbean News Now also asked how the election process will be managed by the IMC at the San Fernando end.
“Re, the conduct of the elections in south, a member of the Interim Management Committee will indeed be at the San Fernando location,” the IMC said.
Meanwhile, the IMC has reported an increase in membership and has reminded longstanding members to be in good financial standing for the August 24 elections.
“The Committee is reporting an upsurge in new members and is encouraging longstanding members to check whether they are in good financial standing to vote. Membership lapses on the anniversary date of your last payment. Those whose membership has lapsed can pay the $50 renewal up to 9.30 am on election day, which is half-hour before the meeting begins,” the IMC said.
A week ago, the IMC emailed the list of nominees to members of MATT, giving the nominees an opportunity to campaign for the positions and helping eligible potential voters to decide in advance who they will be voting for come election day.
This nomination method to MATT’s election process is different to the ad-hoc approach it has adopted over the years, where members showed up for elections and voted by a show of hands for persons who agreed to positions they were nominated for on the same day of the election.
Seven positions are up for grabs: president, vice president, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer and two floor members.
“A total of 25 candidates are vying for the seven positions on the MATT executive, with four contending for the office of president,” MATT’s interim management committee said. “Details are available on the MATT Facebook page. Enquiries can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org