St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in a mess: politically, economically, and socially. As one retiree who returned from England put it recently, “This country is dysfunctional.” But some are not inclined to believe this if their favourite media source does not tell them so and if the propagandists — some paid by your tax dollar — succeed in discrediting the media entities and practitioners that show you the reality in which you exist.
But that is what the media — journalism in particular — should be: a mirror of society — society reflecting itself. But the media is also about money. And often, media entities, in their quest to maximize profit (or simply stay afloat) neglect their responsibilities to you, the citizen.
This, however, is not a call for a change of government. It is a call for the media to change the way in which it does things. For the situation will not improve — even with the best-intentioned of governments in office — if the media continue to fail in the execution of its duties. And, the media in SVG, not withstanding its accolades about being free, have, for a long time, been failing its constituents.
Politicians, although they say otherwise, do not like a free press. And I am not taking about a press that is free to report. I am talking about a press that reports freely, in the absence of self-censorship and considerations about whom they might offend, especially the advertiser, the largest and most powerful of which, in our Vincentian context, is the government and large corporate interest.
In many ways, this is a post about politics, but not about partisanship. It is also about the politics of journalism, the thinking that goes into what you hear or see in your radio and television newscasts or read in your favourite newspaper. What you see, hear, or read does not come by chance. It is decided by people like me — and you — and is often based on an overarching philosophy that might, include or combine one or more of the following, in addition to others: the tenets of journalism, personal philosophy, making money, keeping a government in office, keeping a party out of office, remaining jolly with a certain social class, giving people as much information as possible to make choices about their lives, etc.
The media is SVG criticises everyone but hardly criticises itself. That self-searching has to start somewhere. Maybe this is a good place to begin. What sayest thou?