Why Eyewitness News Must Be Held To Account For Its Mistakes

EDITOR, The Tribune

After erroneously accusing the BPL Board and Stephen Holowesko, the Deputy Chairman of the company’s Board, of a conflict of interest on the news programme Beyond the Headlines, Clint Watson of Eyewitness News went on TV the following evening to apologise to BPL and to Mr Holowesko.

In Mr Watson’s apology he stated his claim was “incorrect”. This is putting it mildly.

For a senior journalist to make such a basic error that most cub reporters would not make it is clear that Mr Watson has a spectacular lack of judgment, which appears to be getting worse.

Did Mr Watson speak to Mr Holowesko before his initial report? If he failed to do so, this is the kind of basic mistake even a rookie reporter should not make. It would also have been a matter of basic fairness and decency to speak with Mr. Holowesko.

Both BPL and Mr Holowesko should seek legal counsel to redress this matter, including the possible dismissal of Mr Watson.

At minimum, Eyewitness News must be made to issue multiple apologies through various media. There should be consideration of a monetary settlement. The owner(s) of the station and other responsible parties must all be held accountable.

Through reckless and unsubstantiated reporting, Mr Watson and Eyewitness News risked doing considerable damage to the Board’s Deputy Chair. This matter must not be taken lightly. It should serve as a warning to other journalists in a media culture that is increasingly slack in it ethics and standards.

Mr Watson was easily duped and made to look a fool in his reporting. How often has he been fooled by those perhaps suspecting an easy and gullible mark in Mr Watson, who has repeatedly demonstrated limited journalistic capacity in his reporting?

Will he be duped again and by whom? Are certain individuals and interests playing him for the fool to advance their agendas?

Mr Watson is better known for his fawning and obsequious coverage of two former prime ministers. But when it comes to serious news and investigative journalism he is way out of his depth.

Mr Watson is a sensationalist on a station the newscast of which is reliably amateurish and puerile, with some contributors having clear agendas. He seems to lack the timber and the judgment needed to be a capable and responsible news editor. This is clearly beyond his reach.

Earlier this year Mr Watson was in full sensational flight, wildly reporting about the old Derek Rolle matter and the purported billions supposedly bequeathed to the late Mr Rolle by an American couple.

His latest blunder seems to be part of a pattern of sloppy sensationalism, which is infecting much of today’s media.

Mr Watson has been a reporter for many years. During his time at Eyewitness News he has been an utter embarrassment to journalism and professionalism.

There is clearly a major problem at Eyewitness News in terms of editorial oversight and management. The operation is amateur hour, with broadcasts less interesting, less well prepared and less serious than a struggling and poorly funded college news station run by first semester freshmen.

The country deserves better than the poor quality of journalism exhibited by Eyewitness News and Clint Watson, who is likely to make more dramatic blunders.



July 10, 2019


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