Wanted Urgently By The Fourth Estate Of Barbados, Heavy Doses Of Advocacy

It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and myths that surround it – John Pilger


Click on image to read the latest faux pas of the Nation newspaper delivered by Living In Barbados blog


This morning we were encouraged to reread some of the comments posted to BU over the past week given the more sedate nature of the weekend. One comment which had an article embedded written by renown journalist John Pilger resonated with us. The above quote is listed as a tag-line on his articles. We have a healthy respect for anyone who dares to share an opinion regardless of majority opinion. In Barbados we have become past masters of exercising great tolerance even in the face of burgeoning evidence, circumstantial or factual.


Back to the point of this blog which is to again focus on the role of the media. Our dear friend the Fourth Estate must start to take on greater responsibility. It is not enough to play vile and derogatory lyrics on 98.1 and 95.3 to benefit from high market popularity. The high level of advertising dollars derived from disseminating this filth appear to be a greater priority than the rising public concerns about the negative subcultures affecting our small society.


In Europe and especially Britain the need for minority views to gain expression has given rising popularity to ‘pirate stations‘. It is not inconceivable that a similar thing could occur in Barbados. We can draw on the parallel that the blogs, BU and BFP in particular were born out of a crying need to unleash pent-up expression in Barbados. From what we have observed there is a big void which is being inadequately serviced by the blogs. We have detected traces of restlessness from commenters of the need to go further by pushing back the stakes which currently spawn the perimeter of the formal and social media in Barbados.


Although strident calls have been made to relax current defamation and to enact freedom of information laws, we are skeptical that this will bring resolution to the current cloudy climate of reportage. Our people in high places whose interest is to remain gatekeepers of the status quo need to be sent another message.


The momentum did not stop after January 15, 2008. It has served only to inspire some of us what is possible if as individuals we are prepared to fearlessly represent our beliefs despite the roadblocks.


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11 thoughts on “Wanted Urgently By The Fourth Estate Of Barbados, Heavy Doses Of Advocacy

  1. BU,
    I tend to agree with you. I support the new DLP administration and I am certain it understands that given the influence the blogs exerted prior to the last elections things will never be the same. We, the average citizens of Barbados do not have to rely on the so called” mainstream media” to vent our concerns. I am absolutely certain that the gov’t will monitor these blogs to get a feel of the concerns of the people and act accordingly. Everything the administration does might not please us but at least we will know that attention is being paid.

  2. I fully support the great strides that have been made by BU and BFP and encourage you to continue.

    I don’t purchase any newspaper. I don’t listen to the radio. (The only time I did so was after the Earthquake and on election night in order to get as much up-to-date information as possible). I don’t watch TV. My experience is that any world-shattering news that I need to know is relayed to me in short order i.e. 911. One of my customers told me about it at about the time of the first impact.

    I am an avid reader of both blogs mentioned above, I find them to be most informative.

    I’m a consummate reader of non-mainstream news worldwide on the net. In other words, I choose and don’t let others choose for me.

    Many people make “sport” of me but I am totally informed. In my opinion more informed than they are because of the biases and “brainwashing” that mainstream media have set out to do and sadly are accomplishing worldwide.

    As an aside: let’s just observe the current Government carefully.

    Guilty until proven innocent may be a good adage at this time.

    Time will certainly tell.

  3. Just checking Born and Breed. Since you do not listen to radio, read paper or watch TV. Should I ask stupidly. Are you incarcerated?

  4. Furthermore — Tell Me Why —

    These blogs are not a place to try, let me use the operative word TRY to “put others down”.

    Did I attack anyone in what I said?

    Except perhaps in your perception the Government?????

  5. It’s interest that you draw parallels with pirate radio, which for broadcasting revolutinized the form and content of radio in Europe. I remember well growing up in London during the 1960s and listening to Radio Luxembourg, Radio Caroline, and Radio London, with their very different schedules of music and discussion. These stations transformed the nature of radio broadcasting in the UK, and not without major struggles; being raided, closed down, restarting, etc. Much of the modern radio structure in the UK owes its existence to pirate radio.

    In a different but related vein, the former Soviet Union found that one of the things that Moscow could not control effectively was access to foreign media. So, where possible many citizens in countries in the Soviet bloc tuned in for years before the fall of the Soviet Union to radio and TV stations transmitting from Finland, Scandinavia, and Germany, and learned a lot about what the west even though the Soviet media was pressing like crazy to report very little about the other side of the Iron Curtain.

  6. This breaking story was emailed to us by a member of the BU family. In essence it shows how the Press through good reporting can bring enough pressure public officials that they are forced to do the right thing.

    Mayor brings in police over his key aide
    Andrew Gilligan, Ross Lydall and Pippa Crerar

    Ken Livingstone has called in the police to investigate Lee Jasper in an attempt to stop the City Hall grants scandal destroying his re-election bid.

    Mr Jasper was suspended immediately, under City Hall rules, from his post as the Mayor’s equalities and policing director. He will continue to receive his £120,000-ayear salary.

    It follows 10 weeks of revelations in the Evening Standard over £3.3 million paid by the Mayor’s London Development Agency to organisations linked to Mr Jasper or his associates.

    Despite Mr Livingstone’s claims of a “full audit trail”, an inquiry by the agency found large amounts of cash could not be accounted for, or had resulted in poor value for money for taxpayers.

    Six organisations funded by the agency are already being investigated by the police for suspected fraud. Two addresses, in Clapham and Deptford, have been raided, but no arrests have been made.

    Mr Livingstone admitted the decision to suspend Mr Jasper had been driven by his fear of losing to Tory rival Boris Johnson, whom he described as “formidable” and able to attract the “Big Brother” generation of voters.

    In an interview with GMTV to be broadcast on Sunday, Mr Livingstone says: “This is bound to be a close fight. The Conservatives have found the most popular Conservative in Britain.”

    He said he had accepted Mr Jasper’s request to refer the matters to the police in an attempt to focus the election away from a “horrendous smear campaign” and on to the “key issues” of crime, transport and climate change.

    Read rest of the story

  7. David, I think that Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation could be the start of a major revolution in Barbados.

    Investigative reporting in the United States for example is greatly aided by the fact that reporters, media houses and private individuals can demand specific information from government.

    I suspect that since Barbados is such a small and connected place, the traditional media houses would move very slowly to utilize FOI laws. However the anonymity of the blogs will support the emergence of individual crusaders who will fight for their right to access information and then use the blogs to publish it if the traditional media refuse. Take Adrian Loveridge for example, and I think others will emerge. A big disadvantage now in commenting on matters of public interest is that we generally do not have all of the information.

    Look at the current industrial dispute. Sandy Lane and Royal Shop have put their case in the media through paid advertisements. However we are yet to see a comprehensive case put by the Union. The press reports I have seen are very glib and it is not clear that they have asked the Union the hard questions that need to be answered (or probed the companies’ statements for that matter). I am not suggesting that this is information that would become public with FOI legislation, but rather that it is difficult to debate the matter properly without full information.

  8. Dear Brutus,

    I think FOI legislation is an excellent idea.

    Where it has been in place (US, UK, Australia etc), governments have often been able to keep things quiet that they want to keep quiet, but other things leak out and generally it is much harder for a secretive government to manage. As we have seen in the “Scott Libby” scandal in the US. I was once part of a panel overseeing FOI issues in the UK and it can also be costly to provide information and have it on tap and you need to have tribunals to ascertain whether somethings are in the public interest to be known and it would be important to make these tribunals truly independent.

    However, do note that FOI legislation will not help us in the case of Sandy Lane/Royal Shop/BWU as they are not public institutions nor are they carrying out a public task – another angle of attack for FOI.

    Of course this is where blogs can also be helpful as insiders use blogs to let the outsiders know what is really happening. So far I am still none the wiser.

  9. “Although strident calls have been made to relax current defamation and to enact freedom of information laws, we are skeptical that this will bring resolution to the current cloudy climate of reportage.”
    I can not really speak about freedom of information laws because I have not really examined them in great detail. However I wish to comment on the calls for defamation reform.

    I keep hearing about these calls for reform of our defamation laws. I must ask the question: What reform do you have in mind?

    As I have said before, the Defamation Act of Barbados is probably the most modern in the region. Have you actually sat and compared the legislation we have in Barbados with that in other jurisdictions?

    In my view there are two options for reform:

    1) amend the defamation act to provide for an extended privilege to media houses (based on the principles laid down in the British case of Reynolds v Times Newspaper). This extended privilege will allow a newspaper to publish a defamatory story on a matter of public concern if the paper can show that they exercised “responsible journalism”. Responsible journalism should be defined by the act.

    2) Amdend the Defamation Act to create a new defence based on the American case of New York Times Company v Sullivan. This amendment will prevent public officials from suing newspapers for defamation unless they can show that the statement was false and that the newspaper published the defamatory story with actual malice (that is, that the newspaper had knowledge that the story was false or had reckless disregard as to whether it was true).

    The first option is the better option for reform. I am of the view that the second option would be a mistake.

    In any case, My point is this: when persons post on Blogs calling for reform of “draconian” or “harsh” libel laws in Barbados, It is evident to me that they have no clue about how our Defamation laws compare with others across the globe. People seem to down play the importance of defamation Laws which is in my view unfortunate. These laws are important to protect one’s reputation from baseless or malicious accusations. We seem to take this protection for granted until it is our reputation which is marred by a vicious rumour. Anyway this Post is already too long. That is my two cents.

  10. Anonlegal we must defer to your superior knowledge on these matters. We agree about the importance of having defamation laws to protect innocent parties. We also recognize that we live in a society which has become fairly litigious and anyone who wrongly paints a picture of any individual do so at their own peril. Further our conclusion that the defamation, libel, and slander laws may need a revisit comes mainly from the fact that our climate seems always ready to operate business as usual, nothing is changing.

    Why is this happening?

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