What’s the DLP’s definition of the media’s role?

Before he entered elective politics and was chosen to represent the urban constituency of St Michael Central in the 2008 general election, Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett spent some time working in the media in two different roles.

He served as a television news anchor at the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and then as an on-air announcer on Starcom Network’s VOB radio station, where he gained some popularity among a more mature audience for playing oldie goldies.

With this background, one naturally would expect that Mr Blackett would  demonstrate a better understanding than most of his Democratic Labour Party (DLP) colleagues, except for two others, of the role of the media in a free and democratic society where the right to freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, is constitutionally enshrined.

The two exceptions referred to are Minister of Culture Steven Lashley who served in his younger years as a news reporter at CBC and Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, who worked in journalism at the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) and the Nation.

Last Sunday evening, at the second conference in the DLP’s current FACTS campaign in the build-up to the next general election less than one year away, a fired-up Mr Blackett ripped into the media, including Barbados TODAY, labelling them “another tier of opposition in this country” besides the parliamentary Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

“We love you all,” he told the applauding partisan audience, referring to journalists covering the event, “but you have to call a spade a spade. We have been struggling . . . since we came to office in 2008, from the time we walked into the doors of Government Headquarters on Bay Street, we have had to contend with the majority of the media.”

The suggestion is that the majority of the media are hostile to the present DLP administration while a few are friendly. Anytime a Barbadian politician refers to the media in such terms, it means that he or she is not happy with the kind of coverage they are receiving, which is a usual complaint from ruling parties.

But portraying the government of the day in a positive light is not the role of media; that is the role of the Government Information Service and CBC, which happens to be state-controlled and is expected to tow the line. The independent media’s role, in the Western democratic tradition, is to serve as a watchdog holding the government of the day accountable and ensuring that it does not abuse the power entrusted to it by the citizens.

It is an inherently adversarial role and relationship which will bring the media into conflict with the government from time to time. It therefore should never be the aspiration of any media house, certainly those which understand the history of the Fourth Estate, to become the mouthpiece of any administration. When a government is critical of the media, it means the media are doing their job.

What the media owes every government, as it owes every other stakeholder, is a commitment to be fair and balanced. However, doing so requires the cooperation of the particular stakeholder. The DLP initially had a good working relationship with the media based on mutual respect under the late Prime Minister David Thompson.

He ensured that lines of communication were always open both through his practice of holding quarterly televised news conferences and also by being easily accessible to reporters. Unfortunately, all of this came to a screeching halt when Mr Thompson died in October 2010 and was succeeded by current Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

It would have been better if Mr Blackett, at least, had convinced his leader about the importance of engaging the media on a regular basis to ensure that Government’s story was effectively told. Never once did Mr Blackett say, at least not publicly, that pursuing a policy of deafening silence which is what the media have had to contend with since 2010 was self-defeating. We live in the media and information age where openness is expected.

Despite his media bashing, at least Mr Blackett was unexpectedly complimentary of Barbados TODAY. “A lovely paper, a lovely paper,” he described us. “I call it the night time Nation.” We are naturally pleased that he too has discovered the wisdom of reading  at night instead of waiting until the next day to read stale news.

 We couldn’t have asked for a better endorsement.

11 Responses to What’s the DLP’s definition of the media’s role?

  1. Arthur Collymore
    Arthur Collymore April 11, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    If this DLP was winning the social media war DEM would not now be commplaining. They are being hounded off the social networks. That is why DEM are taking to the streets with DEM alternative facts.

    Reply
  2. Sunshine Sunny Shine April 12, 2017 at 12:41 am

    If you provide fuel for the media to fire hard at you it is only obvious that the media is going to shoot according to the bullets given. The DLP have not failed to provide enough ammunition to keep the media firing at them all the time. The silence by the worst Prime Minister is only just one aspect of the bullets, and when he is not silent the nonsense that comes out of his mouth is certainly atomic. His ministers namely: Dennis Low Lowe, Michael Lashley, Donavan Inniss, Chris Sinckler and now Steve Blackette are the leading controversial figures in the DLP camp, all worthy of condemnation moreso than praise. They have not failed to show their arrogant streaks and boastful behaviours. I am glad at least one media house is not afraid to call a spade a spade, though I find that Barbados Today seems not to like it when you have to table the facts concerning the oppostion BLP.

    Reply
  3. Jennifer April 12, 2017 at 1:40 am

    The whole fact of the matter is that if one is honest all of these so called politicians lack the historical education to lead this people to any kind of economic growth/wealth. This is why they will eventually resort to their own financial growth leaving the wolves to continue to chew upon all of the placid, willfully blinded sheep. Mind you the sheep is full of so much wool that they will willingly make themselves available to be chewed upon. All this time the wolves flourishing economically and only care about their own a$$ end$. If the ship look like it is going to run aground they will do some howling to keep their prosperity flowing. On that note it is only FAIR and BALANCED that the hairy wolves turn around and eat you mismanaging, dishonest, undercutting lot up too after-all……………………………..

    Reply
  4. Tony Webster April 12, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Hmmmm…I doan know about “tiers” of dis and dat….I know about trust…misplaced trust…gigantic corruption…missed opportunities…empty promises and worse…bought votes which remain unreported to the R.B.P.F.

    I also know, by what is said and done…what is neither said nor adverted to…but kept quiet….that certain folks are sweating bullets…as they see the writing appear on de wall. We have prayed. We have prayed much. The Lord is at Work. He will do His work, If, When, Where, and How He Pleases. Blessed be de name of The Lord. Those with unclean hearts, and hands, shall not prevail over the Works of The Lord.

    I now searching the Good Book, diligently, for where is sez, “effin you got a real rotten tooth…to pull it out”. I know already abouts “what to do with a hand that offendeth” .Hmmmm…does the Good Book mention what to do with hands OTHER than thine own….that offendeth…or offendeth greatly. Someone said “Think on these things”….
    Verily

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  5. Zeus April 12, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Is it not a FACT that you BT have columnist that are either running on a BLP ticket or attempted to do so ….DR George Brathwaite attempted to do so in St. John …Marsha Hinds layne attempted to do against the minister of finance …..and then there is the candidate that is running against mr jones ….I have read your newspaper daily for a number of years and to date none of your columns was ever in favor of the ruling DEMS …..by the way I usually lime at nights by the bush bar ….go figure

    Reply
  6. Carson C. Cadogan April 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    What’s the DLP’s definition of the media’s role?””

    Certainly not the role that they are playing right now. One is reminded of the American media’s role in the last election where they were cheerleading for HILARIOUS CLINTON.

    But the American voting public showed them that were not amused by their one sided reporting.

    Same thing will happen here in Bim as well. Just wait and see.

    Reply
  7. Sisleen Greene April 12, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Let me refresh Zeus memory re: the media and politicians. Let me remind him that Stephen Lashley, Steve Blackett, Maxine Mcclean, Harry Husband and others of the Dems all worked on River Road or Fontabelle.

    Bring another argument about persons attachment to BT>

    Reply
  8. Tony Webster April 12, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    @Sisleen ….lady…you ent green, or even Greene…you is one red-hot lady!!! I beg yuh…slap dem ’bout dem ears, where and when well-deserved…but have mercy also.. as mercy is given unto us all…we are all sinners.

    The weather….the “temperature” gettin’ real hot…de pot gine soon boil-uvuh, yeh!

    Reply
  9. Zeus April 12, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Sisleen if you are telling me that back then there was a bias in fontabelle and river road then you are admitting that BT is bias today and that is something they are denying… So wheel and come again

    Reply
  10. hcalndre April 14, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    That`s why I love the American media, but when people are accusing the Nation paper, VOB and BT of being bias when CBC/100.7fm that is being bank rolled by the tax payers who are not all DLP., BLP., and only the operatives of the DLP can have power, tells me that`s dictatorship. Both parties should be given equal time and the people should demand it because its they station and not management or the hosts. In barbados when you don`t support this party and its idiotness, you`re unpatriotic, you`re a doom and gloom person, where is the Freedom of Speech?

    Reply
  11. F. A. Rudder April 15, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Over the years past as The Honorable Prime Minister Stewart has led the country; I see him as a person who allows his Ministers to oversee their Ministeries without interference unless there is due cause to intervien. This is called democratic style of management and overseering. Some leaders are athoritive styled under a democratic system. On the other hand some can go far left and become dictators ! It’s all about the Id, Ego and Super-Ego! It must be a balance! Knowing Priminiser Stewart over the years I know he is a good listener and he does not introject on ones intercourse until they have said their bit. I find him to have good summary on points spoken back in the days as a young man I would hope that he has kept those remarkable qualities. I am a fellow Barbadian speaking on a fellow countryman’s characture! He loves summary of topics and that is when he is most outspoken!

    Reply

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