There is no denying that the main news feeds for individuals and media come from CNN, ABC, NBC and to a lesser extent the BBC. The result is that news about the Boston Marathon bombing and the resultant manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers have bombarded our media channels all week long.
At workplaces, on social media discussion points remain fixed on events which unfolded in Boston this past week. While it is understandable that Barbadians have a strong connection with North America – in this case Boston – there is the realization that we have allowed the Western media to heavily influence our thought process. If a similar incident had occurred in a non Western country there would hardly be the same preoccupation by Barbadians which we witnessed this week. A tragedy is a tragedy wherever it occurs.
The tragic Boston episode should highlight the important role of the media and how it is capable of winning and influencing the minds of citizens. Should educated Barbadians not be expected to want to be equally informed about protests in Bahrain and Egypt, preparation for the 2013 Zimbabwe presidential election, the coup attempt in Sudan, Ahmadinejad about to visit West Africa, an Iraq which continues to be gutted by civil strife. You get the point. Ask the average Barbadian about these non Western stories and nine out of ten BU is willing to wager are clueless.
How can we expect to be global in perspective, to compete in a global market if we continue to be limited in our world view? There is the Internet which provides access to the news from almost every country on the globe, how many Barbadians take advantage? A listen to the talk shows daily, a read of the local press and what do we hear or read? The same old tired perspective. We have produced a generation whose geopolitical view is so unifocal that it betrays the billions invested in education.
So how do we turn it around? We live in times where it is fashionable to have ‘cable’. Embedded in the ‘cable’ are the best news channels the US and UK offer. It is very difficult to believe that the brain washing which is in high gear can be disrupted at this stage. We scoff when we hear attempts by China and other non Western countries to censor Western news. Perhaps they know what they are doing after all.
The media space in Barbados is occupied by a passive lot. Our media houses are news takers. With the exception of one or two individuals who try to take the role of a journalist seriously, it is hopeless. The dearth of rich news content has given rise to an active social media which includes ‘the blogs’. We lay claim to high literacy yet have no curiosity to pursue information outside the channel which is fed to US.