Barbados Media Personnel Urged To Support Colleagues In The Face Of Police Harassment
Submission Circulated by Editor at Nation Newspaper Amanda Lynch-Foster to Media Personnel (Click Image to read Nation Comment)
I’m sure most of us are feeling the same way today – pissed off and frustrated with the disrespect that journalists are getting. This is the third time this has happened in the last year and a half or so and I am not really happy with the responses. The Commissioner keeps saying he will investigate – we have heard that before. Last year, the former AG said we had no right on the hospital premises. Some members of the public even say we deserve it. It feels like there is a creeping disrespect for journalism and it’s coming from all sides.
So what are we going to do about it?
The first thing we should do as a matter of urgency is support our colleagues tomorrow. Cherie and Jimmy are to appear in the District A Criminal Court A in Bridgetown tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. They are supposed to get there from 9 a.m. I was speaking to Cherie a little while ago and she has said that she would really appreciate some support from journalists so I’m calling on everyone who can to make an effort to be there from 9 a.m. If you have an off-day or if your shift does not start til the afternoon or if you are on vacation, can you please just show up at court tomorrow?
I think our presence alone will be comforting to our colleagues and it will show that journalists are not just going to let this go down in silence. It would look terrible if they went through this and none of us cared enough to show up – it would make those who keep harassing us feel that they can continue to get away with it. It will only take a few hours out of our day. Now as to the longer term thing we should do – for a while now I have felt that journalists in Barbados need to have a professional association for ourselves once more. We run our blood to water speaking up on behalf of everyone else but when it comes to speaking up on our own behalf, our voice is disjointed.
Several other professions have organisations to represent their interests and speak up for them – farmers have BAS, engineers have BAPE, teachers have multiple associations, vendors have BARVEN. We have nothing and that is not good enough. What happened yesterday was the last straw in terms of convincing me that we really need an association to speak up on our behalf and to facilitate better understanding of our profession. It could also be useful in facilitating workshops and seminars and in organising an awards system so we don’t just have to depend on PAHO and the Music Awards to get awarded – we should be doing it for ourselves.
I know because we work such funny hours, it is difficult to find time for the kind of extensive meetings and planning that other organisations have, so I have a few suggestions.
- Instead of having weekly or even monthly meetings, we could perhaps have quarterly or bi-monthly meetings – so 4 to 6 meetings a year.
- We should also have a set time and place for those meetings so that it makes it easier for everyone to remember – for example, the first Sunday every two months.
- Have the meetings on a day that is not a big production day – perhaps on Friday nights or Sunday afternoons?
- If we do have just quarterly or bi-monthly meetings then we should use Facebook – a lot. Most of us spend a lot of time on FB anyhow (I does see wunna!) and we can use that to fill the face-to-face communication gap and keep people updated.
- We could also establish a blog or an e-newsletter (or both) for communication purposes.
What I’d like right now is some feedback.
- Do you think we should restart the Barbados Association of Journalists or would you prefer a new organisation? I tend to think the first option would be easier but I will admit I hardly know anything about the workings of the BAJ because that was before I was in the profession.
- What day do you think would be best for meetings?
- What are you willing and able to do for the association? If all you can do is attend meetings, that is perfectly fine. If you have time to be the rep at your own media house and just nag your colleagues to attend meetings that is even better. If you have time to be on an executive committee and do some serious organising that is great. Let me know what you are capable and willing to do so we have an idea of how to proceed.
Based on your feedback, I will try to organise a meeting for after Christmas, near to year end. Let us start 2009 right.
Check out Boyce Voice Blog for more comment on the matter.
“Police Heavy Hand” taken by BU family member at Kadooment 2008