The Fourth Estate plays a critical role to the proper functioning of a democracy, it must. Providing citizens with information which equips them to make the best decisions and at the same time act as a watchdog targeting those who act as gatekeepers of authority and influence in our society. Any attempt to sanitize, filter, manipulate information which it feeds to the public must be rejected as a fourth estate reneging on its obligation. The consequence is a compromised democracy.
In Barbados the media [fourth estate] is heavily self-censored. With the exception of a couple media practitioners there is a lack of respect for the profession by the decisionmakers and general public. It is fair to suggest that media workers demonstrate a lack of respect for themselves if we are to judge their inability to promote a vibrant union or association. The Barbados Association of Journalists (BAJ) does not even have an official website or Facebook presence in 2013 such is the inadequacy of how media workers see themselves.
One of the tenets of a working Fourth Estate is the right to leverage freedom of expression. However, while accepting that media must have the right to report freely on matters of public interest there are certain universal norms which respected media outlets observe. The requirement of a society to defend public morals and therefore the need to filter OBSCENITY. There is DEFAMATION of course and a host of others based on jurisdiction. The one of interest to BU is PORNOGRAPHY and in this instance, CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. A simple definition of child pornography is “material that visually depicts sexual conduct by children”.
The arrest of Nation newspaper Publisher Vivian-Anne Gittens, Editor in Chief Roy Morris and Editor Sanka Price in connection with the sex story published on October 26, 2013 has signalled a departure from the norm given the response it has attracted. Many who read the article believed that the Nation had a right to report the matter, where they got it wrong was how it executed. BU found it surprising how many leading commentators made the point that the Nation newspaper was on good ground to expose the matter and at the same time excuse the graphic presentation of the incident. Win lose or draw a message has been sent to media houses that sensationalizing stories of this nature which involve children will not be tolerated, and this is a good thing. The time has come to fight back against the decline in standards in every facet of our society. There is one thing which as adults we cannot compromise and that is proving leadership (mentorship) to our children.
It gives BU no joy to see others brought before the Court on such a serious charge BUT enough is enough. BU had the opportunity when we received the link to the sex video to post a more graphic blog, we also had the opportunity to use the Nation’s redacted image, we did not AND it did not require much deliberation on the part of the BU household. The good from the story is that the sensibilities of Barbadians everywhere have been aroused. Let us hope it sends a message to the idiots who feel compelled to post all and sundry to social media. To all the schools which are covering up infelicities. To all the parents who are in denial. To the incompetents at the ministry of education who are cheating on their roles as guardians of our education system.
Congratulations to the Police and Director of Public Prosecutions for demonstrating the courage to travel a different path this time around.