2790741
GML Investigative Editor Mark Bassant grills former TTFA president and owner of W Connection David John-Williams during an interview at the Brechin Castle Golf Course, Couva, on Tuesday evening.

The 2020 three-part investigative video documentary titled: TTFA’s Secret Panama Canal Trail, researched and written by Guardian Media’s Lead Editor of the investigative desk, heaped to the top ten in best investigative stories shortlisted for the International Sports Press Association’s Sports Media Awards. (AIPS).

Out of over 1,800 entries from 29 countries across the globe, Bassant placed fifth for his work on the well-received piece, which unearthed alleged corruption at the hands of former TTFA president and owner of W Connection David John Williams.

An achievement Bassant in an interview has described as humbling.

“I am humbled to be among the giants, to say the least. Whittling down over five continents—the best 50 countries and then rating them via continents and finishing fifth, and seeing that CNN… was fourth…somebody from CNN is a remarkable achievement not just for myself, but also the Caribbean,” Bassant expressed.

AIPS Sport Media Awards serves the sports media industry’s highest international commendation and recognises excellence in sports journalism.

Speaking on how important it was to work on that TTFA’s Secret Panama Canal Trail, Bassant said it was all about holding people to account and ensuring corruption does continue to get away on an easy ride.

“There have been several stories on the periphery of Trinidad and Tobago football for over two to three years. And I think, you know in any organisation, be it a sporting organisation or a state entity, it’s extremely important and critical that you question some of these things. You have to follow the money.”

Bassant credited the success of the story to the cooperative effort it took by colleagues at GML as well as external professionals who were able to assist him in grounding his research and accessing evidential information, required to legitimise his investigative findings.

Responding to Guardian Media’s question on how such recognition could raise the bar for investigative journalism in T&T and the Caribbean, Bassant said it was certainly an opportunity to pave a new road for how investigative journalism was done.

“I recently judged the Jamaica Press Association’s Investigative Awards category, about two or three months ago and I can tell you there are a couple of good pieces not just in Trinidad and Tobago but in Jamaica and other countries. But I think that we have to develop that niche for better investigative journalism across the region. I think the Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network, the CIJN, of which I am a member is trying to reach out to do those things, “said Bassant.

He noted investigative journalism was never a walk in the park, but it took dedication and commitment to see it through to the end.