DLP attacks on the media will not change the facts

The Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte had a way with art that often challenged predetermined perceptions of reality.

Mr Magritte’s most famous work, La trahison des images – French for The Treachery of Images (sometimes translated as The Treason of Images) – depicts a pipe below which he printed,  “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”, French for “This is not a pipe.”

Having been reproached for the title, he asked, “Could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe’, I’d have been lying!”

However, there is another interpretation – that often when reality strikes us in the face we choose to ignore it and see instead something that is not present or real.

How else can we explain the recent attacks on the media by the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP)?

At its most recent self-described FACTS conference, two DLP legislators – Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss and backbencher James Paul – led an onslaught on the media, presumably for publishing information that was not complimentary to the DLP.

It was Mr Inniss – the minister who receives a disproportionate amount of coverage in the media, most of it positive – who began the onslaught, which led one male supporter to heckle a journalist covering the event.

While he chastised the supporter, he did not stop his attack.

“I don’t care if you don’t like Donville Inniss, I don’t care if you don’t like Freundel Stuart, I don’t care if you don’t like the Democratic Labour Party . . . I say to you as journalists, you have a duty to act more responsibly,” he said to the baying of garrulous supporters.

The media have “a few individuals who really don’t give a darn” about Barbados or the Government, who believe the best thing they could achieve is to see the back of the DLP, he went on with the relish of a tricoteuse ; except that Mr Inniss and Mr Paul – as well Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett who had previously attacked Barbados TODAY – are not the knitting women of the guillotine. With the exception of Mr Paul they are ministers of Government to whom much has been given.

There is nothing more calculated to galvanize the support of worried supporters than the belligerent menaces of bumptious political leaders.

However, there is nothing more dangerous and threatening to freedom of the press than such calculated attacks on the media.

Clearly, the DLP parliamentarians are unhappy that the media are reporting that people are dissatisfied with their performance. Clearly they are frightened of losing their grip on power.

After all, in the Barbados of today we are living in, a brave new world of transparency and openness exists; one where people who object to Government’s actions and programmes are never referred to as enemies of the state.

All right, we are being facetious here.

However, there is no need for the administration to unleash a programme of priggish vindictiveness and joyless inquisition against the media for simply doing our job.

In a joint declaration on “fake news”, disinformation and propaganda issued on March 3 by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, the hemispheric and global bodies expressed alarm at instances in which public authorities denigrate, intimidate and threaten the media, including by stating that the media are “the opposition” or are “lying” and have a hidden political agenda.

“[This] increases the risk of threats and violence against journalists, undermines public trust and confidence in journalism as a public watchdog, and may mislead the public by blurring the lines between disinformation and media products containing independently verifiable facts,” they said.

This is what we are facing when political leaders choose to ignore the facts before them and instead, attack the media.

And for the supporters who egg them on, let’s be absolutely sure whose interests will be served if the media are rendered toothless. For, let there be no doubt, this is what these attacks are meant to achieve.

We are not yet at the point where we feel pressure to so censor ourselves that we become useless, nor are we are the point where we fear for our lives.

But there are journalists in countries as nearby as Mexico who live this reality. Those in countries facing millennial poverty, brutal dictatorship or murderous conflict value freedom of the press and understand that this freedom underpins civil order.

As the Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Sen once said, a free press stops famine.

For the sake of our democracy and the future of our country, we must not allow politicians to establish the modern day version of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth; or even more insidious, force the media into such a culture of fear and caution that the public interest is no longer served.

To suggest the media are enemies of the state because the administration does not like what we report is to miss the whole point.

What we do is give voice to the anxieties of Barbadians, and when we report that they are so unhappy with their representatives that they plan to stay home on election day, it is because this is what they think, how they feel, what they say.

The politicians may choose to ignore the message while they attempt to shoot the media. But this does not mean the anxieties, burdens and struggles of ordinary Barbadians are not real, except, possibly, in the minds of leaders such as Mr Inniss and company.

After all, this is not a pipe.

11 Responses to DLP attacks on the media will not change the facts

  1. Sunshine Sunny Shine May 5, 2017 at 2:27 am

    Though I will agree with your article, I have to disagree some what. I think some news agencies are towing the lines for one political party or the other. As you know, I have been asking you, Barbados Today, why the Mia Mottley article, such as the ‘ Mia wants more Parliamentarians’, was removed so quickly and practically all the articles featuring Democratic Labour Party politicans are still featuring prominently. You obviously saw that the silly woman’s proposal got a swift tongue lashing from practically every single blogger that had a comment to make about it. It deserved every single opposing view that was written because the silly woman tends ever so often to lean to her indifferent side that influnces her great intelligence into believing that she can still pull wool over watching eyes and thinking minds. You, Barbados Today, knows fully well that close relationships the political class have with media houses do indeed exist. It is relationship that has placed the media to compromise their ethics and standards in order to protect their small bittles and little red berries. Imagine if there was not this relationship could it be that media houses would be free to provide balance and factual reporting without glossing over the facts or protecting a political friend?

    Reply
    • hcalndre May 7, 2017 at 12:22 am

      S S Shine. Why should CBC TV and 100.7 fm which is funded by the tax payers be controled by the political party that`s in power and the hosts. If they are privately own, then they could be as bias as the like. Equal time given to the two DLP and BLP and because you`re employed by CBC TV and the radio stations you got to tow the line.

      Reply
      • Sunshine Sunny Shine May 7, 2017 at 10:24 am

        HCALNDRE

        I will ask you a question, how is it that government can utlilize NIS monies, which belong to the people of Barbados, how, where, and when they feel like. Does the people of Barbados have no say in a matter as crave as the National Insurance Scheme being used as the government’s as a bank for their good pleasure? The people of Barbados have no say, whatsoever, in what ruling party governments do. That is why the entire stinking system has to change. CBC should never be a kite for one party while the party in power, pop up the opportunity for them the other to fly that kite. As you said, it should be equal.

        Reply
  2. Carson C. Cadogan May 5, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    The FACTS ARE that the majority of the Bajan news media is playing apostle for the crooked Barbados Labour Party.

    Instead of reporting the news, FACTS checking, following up, stop relying on BLP handouts and misinformation, they are trying to create a type of news favourable to the crooked BLP.

    Reply
  3. Jameel May 5, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    @CCC, do you know what I love about this? This is not a pipe. To me it suggests you are smoking something so you don’t know reality. But this is not a pipe

    Reply
  4. NOLAN HALL May 6, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Can any of you two persons that have commented, please publish a link , quotes, anything ,where the media reported anything that was not factual about the Democratic Labour Party, or about its members.

    Reply
    • Carson C. Cadogan May 6, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      The present Govt. is formed by the DLP.

      Here is just one example of a terminological inexactitude made against the Govt. formed by the DLP:

      Made at a public meeting by the Barbados Labour Party,

      “In a report published in the June 30, DAILY NATION, Mottley was quoted as saying: “Information is being hidden from you in this country and . . . if the Budget was called one month later, [Sinckler] would not report to you that the foreign reserves are in the good condition, because the Credit Suisse loan has to be paid on the June 18 and as of Friday it still was not paid and that is $88 million.” – See more at: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/70156/sinckler-govt-credit-suisse-loan-payment#sthash.ZBsSKWgK.dpuf

      Reply
  5. Sunshine Sunny Shine May 6, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Nolan Hall

    I said glossing over the facts. When will the media houses apply pressure for there to be whistle blower legislation that would allow them to go beyond just surface reporting. I have a question for you, why is it that media houses in Barbados are simply question mark entities in the minds of many John Public members?

    Reply
  6. Carson C. Cadogan May 6, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    “The top-rated country for quality of life in the Caribbean in 2017 is Barbados. Barbados also ranked 54th for quality of life in a list of countries worldwide.

    The ranking only considers countries that are members of the United Nations and that provide acceptable data to the agency.

    See the full ranking of Caribbean nations with their world ranking in parentheses.

    Barbados (54)
    Bahamas (58)
    Antigua and Barbuda (62)
    Trinidad and Tobago (65)
    Cuba (68)
    St Kitts and Nevis (74)
    Grenada (79)
    St Lucia (92)
    Jamaica (94)
    Dominica (96)
    Dominican Republic (99)
    St Vincent and the Grenadines (99)
    Belize (103)
    Guyana (127)
    Haiti (163)
    The Human Development Index (HDI), released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) essentially ranks the best countries in the world to live.

    The UNDP works in nearly 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion.’

    Why wont the BAJAN NEWS MEDIA Emmanuel Joseph print stories like this? From reputable sources?

    Reply
  7. hcalndre May 6, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    @C.C. Cadogan; of the 170, Barbados is rated in the bottom half with the other third world banana republic countries, that seems to you like freedom of the press in Barbados is a model that should be followed. Barbados lack of investigative reporters but the reason that they`re not is because they`re afraid of the repercussion.

    Reply
    • Sunshine Sunny Shine May 7, 2017 at 10:29 am

      The problem is that the laws in the land are used in a way to protect politically deceiftful figures. Whistle blower legislation is very much needed as well as anticorruption legislation. That is the only was the media houses would be protected. But what I do not understand is if a media house investigates and discovers the truth; when that truth is presented how can there be a repurcussion. I would think any repurcussion would an opportunity to further expose the reveneful one, or effect a lawsuit agains such a person for any malicious conduct. THE TRUTH NEEDS NO PROOF!

      Reply

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