Media Malpractice: Who Will Guard the Guardians?

Submitted by Natasha Ford

The standard of journalism in Barbados continues to plummet. Journalists are the gatekeepers. They decide what is news, how readers will receive that news and when they will receive it.

Journalists and reporters are some of the most powerful people in any society. But with power comes great responsibility. And like most in a position of power, journalists seek to abuse that power by way of manipulation.

Trust is the most important facet of a relationship between a journalist and a reader. Readers depend on them to deliver accurate, fair and timely information for consumption.

But who is to be held accountable for the dissemination of false or biased news? The journalist or the Editor-in-Chief?

The blame must fall squarely on both shoulders.

As a journalist, one must be a truth seeker and be honest in news reporting. The Editor-in-Chief, however, is responsible for the newsroom and all articles that are published.

The morality of a news publication must be questioned when the ethical rules of journalism are being disregarded.

This includes all types of journalism, especially photojournalism.

Readers depend on both the photographer and the reporter to give an accurate account of an event. They depend on the reporter to paint a picture for them, and on the photojournalist to produce a picture worth a thousand words.

Journalists trust readers to believe what they write and readers trust reporters to write about what occurred.That mutual trust can be severed when photojournalists seek to manipulate photos.

This manipulation is known as photo-editing.

Photo-editing is the altering of a picture by cropping, enhancing or otherwise changing the original picture.

There are times when photos may need editing for any number of reasons. But how far a photojournalist is willing to go for that “perfect picture” is the problem.

With so many photo-editing tools, including Adobe photoshop which photojournalists usually gravitate towards, the possibilities are endless.

The subject of ethics versus aesthetics must be brought into question.

The picture above, believed to be captured on 11.02.16 by The Nation’s photojournalist Nigel Browne, appears to be drastically altered resulting in a poor resolution photo.

So is what we now believe to be an accurate depiction of an occurrence (house fire), no longer true?

There is a mysterious element in the photo that appears to be a puddle of water, but one cannot be certain.

The poorly edited photo also features “half of a fireman”.

Was the “half of a fireman” added to the photo or was being removed from the photo?

Was that particular fireman walking ahead of the other two, or was The Nation trying to give readers the impression that he was? Was he even there?!

This photo indicates a blatant disregard of photojournalism ethics, and heads must indeed roll!

If one cannot be certain about the news they receive, how can one trust the media to report the truth?

It is understandable to want to get the news out there before your competitors have a chance to, but at what cost?

Accuracy must never be sacrificed for speed.

The below photo was posted on the Nation’s website. Chances are, a different photo will be used in the tomorrow’s printed edition.

One is then compelled to ask, how much will that photo be manipulated and how many before that.


8 Comments on “Media Malpractice: Who Will Guard the Guardians?”

  1. chad99999 February 11, 2016 at 8:56 PM #

    For generations, Marxists have argued that the thinking of most individuals can be predicted from their class background. Others would say that once an individual attaches to three or four identity groups, they will reflect the thinking of those groups.
    We know that perception is selective, so no journalist can give an accurate account of a complicated story. That is why most newspapers and magazines no longer try to be objective.


  2. Raw Bake February 12, 2016 at 12:39 AM #


    Have you ever seen fireman in action after a fire? You evva see sumbody tek off a helmet and rest um one side? You nevva see nuhbody tek off duh jacket and hang um up someweh?

    I come along and hear bout half uh idiot, but dis is de fust time I evva hear bout half uh fireman.
    The Nation bad, but they are not that bad.

    David does really make me wonder sometimes.


  3. Violet C Beckles February 12, 2016 at 2:42 AM #

    The NATION is not for the Nation , its for the DBLP Government, When they look out for the People things may change in Barbados, Point Blank they suck,, looking out for who is who and not who did what or doing , They need to get some balls, they all connected to lawyers and Ministers same nasty group against the People,Hiding their crime against the People,


  4. Gabriel February 12, 2016 at 8:58 AM #

    It is clear that David Ellis and Peter Wickham are Public Relations Consultants and use the VOB resource to spin their opinions.The latest is both are suggesting an increase in water rates.Water is a life giving resource.It should not be seen as a profit center.Similarly,garbage removal is a life preserving exercise and we are already paying taxes to remove it from our streets and neighborhoods.Healthy people earn and pay taxes not sick people.Instead of utilizing our taxes sensibly,this administration has been spending our GDP on the biggest cabinet and hangers on called the Fatted Calf Brigade.All we ever hear is more taxation coming.


  5. William Skinner February 12, 2016 at 10:49 AM #

    The major problem we face is that of mis-information by those who are now controlling public discourse. They pretend to know everything. For example, while listening to Brasstacks sometime back, a regular caller said that “no country imports or exports garbage any where in the world.” I was amazed that the moderator did not correct the caller since garbage disposal is a major industry and it is common knowledge that some countries import and export garbage, to turn into energy.
    Even on local political history, some journalists are woefully uninformed and its obvious that they stay clear of the public library and reading in general. So since they are so lacking in basic knowledge, they cannot competently inform readers or listeners.


  6. flyonthewall February 12, 2016 at 11:05 AM #

    There is no conspiracy here. This photo was enlarged then cropped. In other words, the editor applied a “zoom” effect to focus more tightly on the burning house. There is no half a fireman. This is equipment hanging on some sort of post. I can’t believe that someone would go to all this trouble to mislead us. It is not worthy of attention.


  7. Alden Blackman February 13, 2016 at 9:29 AM #

    Journalist and reporters fear victimization just as much, as other people living in Barbados today. Roy Morris did a highlighting article , in the Nation 9+ years ago,with “St. James Man fairing the worst ” it was spot on, photojournalist good, it is one of my keepsakes, but the dangerous situation that was highlighted still remain, a young journalist from the said Nation did a follow up last year, I read 2 lines did not read the rest of the article, just could not believed the journalist write that, after seeing the situation ,sorry Roy


  8. SuckaBubby February 14, 2016 at 9:03 PM #

    This bothers me none.What bothered me was hearing Michael Carrington on the radio at the scene of the fire spouting foolishness.


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