In the public interest – and much more!
For sure, there are times when we will make decisions that will upset some readers and we will stand by them, even in the face of strident criticism because we believe we are right –– that there is no alternative. And that will continue to be so.
–– Roy Morris, Nation editor-in-chief.
In a comment this week –– one replete with contradictory points, as a matter of course; contradistinctions, if we would be merciful –– Mr Morris purports to give advice on “being accurate, timely, fair, balanced and relevant, while showing the human face” in the coverage of news events by the traditional Press –– counsel that he himself and his unit should make a greater effort to follow.
To his credit, though, Mr Morris apologized for some alleged indiscretions his newspaper has taken in recent times, and ostensibly so to his announced and identified aggrieved persons. We will pass no judgement on this professed self-reproach; but we cannot help but respond to his effort to drag Barbados TODAY into the journalistic mire into which he has admittedly slipped and sunk, and from which he may now be suffering some affliction of improvidence.
Displaying in his column In The Public Interest just yesterday two pictures carried by Barbados TODAY of the June 26 Coverley, Christ Church accident in which 11-year-old Abijah Holder died, Mr Morris sought to imply an insensitivity and moral torpor on our part. The BT pictures, exampled by Mr Morris, show in one case a strapped Abijah on a stretcher, being overlooked by a grieving mum, who is herself being comforted by sympathetic paramedics.
In the other, an injured and slightly bloodied Ibriel, Abijah’s sister, is shown being attended to by EMTs.
These are images, truth be told, that evoke in those of us imbued with any true humanity the grief which we can all similarly suffer when things go awry on our streets and highways, and elicit a reaction and response that we collectively need to be ever so careful and vigilant in our goings-about.
Mr Morris’ contrasting of these with his bland –– though accurate –– choices of a morose mother between two police officers, and a crowded overturned vehicle, in professional, journalistic, photographic assessment, is a mere exercise in the comparison of cheese and chalk. This is as far as newsworthiness and the acceptability impact of photojournalism are concerned.
Yes, there comes a responsibility with the selection of news pictures for publication; but sad images can never make for merry ones, and they will hardly gladden the spirits of victims and their families. That is simply life! And it is these observations that professionally influence choices as we go about our job of reporting on actualities.
Interestingly and ironically, all the implied inappropriateness of a Barbados TODAY picture publishing comes from a source which not so long ago featured in an unparalleled and almost freakish experience that featured publisher, editor-in-chief and news editor standing before the court charged with publishing “an indecent photograph” of two schoolchildren “under the age of 18 years, to wit 14 years”, purportedly having sex in a classroom.
Albeit the triumvirate had the case against them dismissed in the magistrates’ court –– even as they face an appeal against the ruling –– the printed Nation picture remains published, and without nary an apology, speaking subject to correction.
We may add that Barbados TODAY has no reputation for publishing grossly unsettling pictures, nor gory ones, nor the pornographic –– whether of minors or adults; and certainly not under any guise of needed exposure, or of not burying our heads in the sand. We do not just believe that what we do is right. We do what is right, and what can stand up to scrutiny –– even beyond the jurisdiction of these 166 square miles of ours.
As for the higgledy-piggledy negative intimations of Mr Morris, we are reminded of William Shakespeare’s observation through Macbeth that “life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.
It would seem Mr Morris is as tortured and as hard-pressed as Macbeth, envisioning life at its most brutal and cynical –– trapped in unprecedented circumstances that give him little comfort, as they continue to play out in full public view.