The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has struggled to maintain a strong press freedom record despite editorial censorship and growing political influence.
In several OECS islands, political parties hold majority shares in media companies, compromising journalistic independence throughout the region. Governments also wield significant influence over radio stations, newspapers and online media outlets, including The Grenada Explorer and Antiqua Breaking News.
Throughout the area, media outlets are under the direct influence of politicians, especially during election cycles: as elected officials can withdraw state advertising from media outlets at any time, depriving them of income they depend on. This was the case in Grenada, where there was a cover up of a worker’s protest against the general manager of Grenada’s Broadcasting Network, which is the only media network that provides coverage throughout the entire country.
In 2016, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines passed an ambiguous cybercrime law aimed at curbing online press freedom under the guise of criminal defamation. The law included not only print and broadcast media, but also online content.
While the news industry has experienced a phase of economic growth, journalists are generally poorly trained and often abandon their profession because of very low salaries, an issue that mostly affects women in the region.
Journalism is not considered a prestigious or lucrative profession throughout the region.
No journalists were killed last year, but in June 2020, Nation News photojournalist Christoff Griffith was killed while on assignment in Barbados, prompting an investigation. While journalists can generally work safely and freely, they may be subject to threats or intimidation from criminal organisations.