Open Letter to Media Practitioners

 Submitted by an Anonymous blogger

arbados Association of Journalists and Media Workers (BARJAM)1

Journalism in Barbados is dead and unfortunately no one seems to know when it died. Was it one single event or a series of events? Perhaps we can point our fingers to defamation laws or perhaps we can point our fingers at the close ties between the media and the government or maybe it is the business class. You don’t think journalism is dead? Let me show you why I think it is.

Apes Hill

In 2015 the Apes Hill project owned by Bizzy Williams borrowed 25 million from the NIS “Dat is the people pensions.” Apes Hill has since “defaulted” on this debt  according to the upper echelons of NIS with not so much as a blink of an eye. I’m just a nobody and know this, I have alerted the various political parties and they seem unbothered, whispered in the ears of the media and they seem unbothered.

This article isn’t about “poor” Bizzy though so let me continue, hopefully a journalist can interview him and ask him if he even plans on returning the money. But moving on…

Corruption Allegations

In like every year since independence allegations of corruption existed ? Honestly I’m not old enough to know or remember, but it feels that way. The BLP elite fan the flames of allegations, while stating there is evidence of over-invoicing and other questionable practices, but somehow not enough to bring anyone before the court. They are playing a dangerous political game and any reasonable journalist would ask about the evidence or stop writing about it. For example you allege to have evidence of various overpaid lawyer fees yet fail to bring it to court? Surely the government has access to not only to the old paper trail, but also to the bank accounts of government to generate new statements. I’m sure a journalist can figure this out, so what is the issue?

Alternatives to Defaulting?

From my extensive research as a non journalist countries don’t default on their debt; it is exceedingly rare. From the Washington Post to The Economist that point is reiterated over and over again. My simple journalistic question is this;

“If a country goes to the IMF to improve its creditworthiness, why default and then go to the IMF?”

Let me ask that a different way, what sense would it make publicly telling your bank that you are are going to refinance and their is nothing they can do about it (defaulting) and then hoping that a future bank or lender would want your business.

Journalism Under DLP rule

Before some partisan person states that I have DLP bias I should perhaps state that journalism under the DLP was equally as woeful. The only thing I’m thankful for is that the media really did their job in helping to oust the persons who brought the economy and country to its knees. Perhaps one could argue that journalism wasn’t dead in the months leading up to elections, the media struck back? So kudos to the media there for that small victory, however if the media were perhaps doing their job the economy wouldn’t have gotten so bad and perhaps we wouldn’t even had had the DEMs again in 2013, but alas that is history.

Investigating, shaping the minds of the public  

Perhaps the media houses had too much control in any case and this dilution of power is a good thing and the tradeoff is simply shoddy journalistic standards as the media can no longer afford to retain the best talent. Perhaps we need more civic minded persons to write and speak out or perhaps only experts not auditors speaking out as economists or politicians speaking out as professionals beyond their scope. I don’t have all the answers so don’t mind me either for I’m not a journalist.

P.S. Advocate, Nation or Barbados Today(pretty sure Barbados Today wished a reporter recently) I apply to be a journalist as of mid October 2018 Terms and Conditions apply. Perhaps I can contribute in some small way.

2nd P.S. Freelance only ! I don’t wish my NIS going to well never mind.

Signed,

Humble farmer

Eugene Melnyk Puts the Squeeze On Barbados Underground

Eugene Melnyk - Photo credit: www.canada.com

Eugene Melnyk – Photo credit: http://www.canada.com

On the 6 December 2012, BU received a letter from Ontario counsel Mr Sean Campbell of the law firm DAVIES WARD PHILLIPS & VINEBERG which advised they are acting on behalf of Eugene Melnyk as follows:

Dear Sirs/Mesdames:

We are counsel for Eugene Melnyk.

It has come to our attention that Barbados Underground is disseminating information that is false and defamatory and that this is causing substantial damage to Mr. Melnyk’s business interests and reputation. Without limitation, Barbados Underground is disseminating an article entitled “Senators-owner Eugene Melnyk & Founder Of Biovail Charged With Fraud”, dated March 24, 2008 and comments related to that article. A copy of the article and comments are enclosed. Among other things, the article and certain comments falsely allege that Mr. Melnyk has been charged by regulators in Canada with accounting fraud. This allegation is manifestly false and defamatory. Mr. Melnyk has never been charged by any Canadian regulatory authority with fraud.

Our client considers this matter to be very serious. We have been instructed by Mr. Melnyk to demand that you immediately remove the above referenced article and related comments from your website. We further demand that you cease and desist from making or disseminating any further false or defamatory statements concerning Mr. Melnyk and from any other conduct that is damaging to Mr. Melnyk’s business interests or reputation. In the event that you fail to comply with this demand, legal proceedings will be initiated against you and any other involved parties without further notice.

Please contact me in the event that you wish to discuss this matter.

This letter is written under reserve of all our client’s rights and recourses.

Yours very truly,

Sean Campbell

BU has responded as follows:

Continue reading

Acting Crown Counsel Elwood Watts Asks High Court to Block the Appointment of Attorney at Law Alison Burke

Chief Justice Marston Gibson, heads the Judicial and Legal Services Commission

The following extracted from the Sunday Sun September 23, 2012:

“A High Court is being asked to block the appointment of a Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). In an unprecedented legal development, attorney at law Elwood Watts, who acted as Crown Counsel in the DPP’s office for the past six years, is seeking an injunction against the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, chaired by Chief Justice Marston Gibson and includes Appeal Court Justice Sandra Mason and High Court Justice Maureen Crane-Scott.

Attorney at law Alison Burke, who was recently admitted to the Bar, was to take up the permanent appointment as Crown Counsel effective September 1. But in his court filings challenging the decision of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission to ratify Burke’s appointment, Watts has complained that the position of Crown Counsel was never advertised as required by law. As a result, the former police sergeant who has been on secondment to the DPP’s office, said he never had a chance to secure the appointment.

Reports indicated that Burke, who was attached to the Ministry of Health as a staff nurse prior to her appointment, never had any experience in court proceedings. A date is to be set for hearing of the injunction.”

Continue reading

A View Of The NATION From Underground

Submitted by WordSong

Kaymar Jordan, Editor-in-Chief of the NATION Newspaper

No Kaymar Jordan you did not tell the truth and stand justifiably accused by the general public. Your manipulations and distortions converted what could have been an otherwise great story into a scandalous piece of journalistic tripe. Now you and whoever helped you write that editorial would hoodwink the public (again) into believing that there was merit in what you did; all you have done in the editorial is to confirm the stupidity of the NATION’s newspaper policy. Technology has seen it fit that newspapers remain widely read. So what was the point you were making about technology again? No amount of spin doctoring will alter what remains a travesty.

You distorted the truth – for effect and commercial gain and possibly out of pure ignorance. You could not even give the public that your deliberateness in distorting was influenced by the expectation of more information and for that you apologize. I now say any decent newspaper would have fired you or put you on the back bench like they will put Sinckler. I for one will not buy another Nation or Sunday Sun newspaper. But what does it matter? Who cares? Not the Nation . Harold Hoyte I am ashamed of you too because I know you still have influence in what goes on at the paper.

Blogs Guarding Freedom Of Expression

Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

Karim said Trinidad and Tobago needs an educated, enlightened and fiercely independent media, noting that “fiercely independent journalists operating in the traditions of the Fourth Estate will provide our citizens with the facts on which they can make informed decisions.

CMC

In seems coincidental that at the launch of the College of Science, Technology and the Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago’s (COSTAATT) Ken Gordon School of Journalism and Communication Studies the above quote was uttered on the very same day the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales came out strongly on behalf of an independent press and the vital necessity of such an organ in any democratic society.

The Lord Chief Justice’s insightful comments can be found on the Daily Mail’s website, among others – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2051183/Britains-priceless-newspapers-senior-judge.html.

Continue reading

Sad And Naughty Known Associates [SANKA]

Submitted by Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Supporter

 

It’s very commendable that one of the editors of one of the leading print media in Barbados has taken up the challenge of voicing the concerns of the public who according to the article seems to be in contact with so many Barbadians. It is quite pleasing that freedom of the press does allow for these persons to write without any fear of losing their jobs.

The article posed a number of questions to our Minister of Finance and bore the signature CRUEL. It is quite Sad and Naughty that Known Associates of the Opposition would seek to damage the editorial integrity of their employers by publishing week after week articles that seek to undermine the very fabric that makes it possible for all to coexist. But, nevertheless it is quite refreshing that “those citizens who, as independent individuals have no entity to speak for them” have found one in their champion CRUEL.

However, it is quite Sad And Naughty that Known Associates of the Opposition continue to practice intellectual dishonesty by not reminding Barbadians that “ the current Administration faces a more severe crisis than any other in the history of independent Barbados.” …”it is the most devastating since the Great Depression of the 1930s when a quarter of the United States work force was idle”.  It is quite Sad And Naughty that Known Associates of the Opposition expect , the high fuel cost and soaring food prices are all within the remit of this administration to control.

Continue reading

Is STARCOM Network And Nation Newspaper Abusing Their Dominant Market Position?

Submitted by OLD SCHOOL

My problem with Starcom and the Nation Newspaper is that their coverage lack balance.  I focus on them because no one reads the Advocate, CBC has always been CBC, we look to the Nation and VOB for some unbiased, good journalism.

I have problems with the quality of the Nation and Starcom’s coverage of issues.  In my opinion, their columnists and articles in general provide very little context to the issues they opine on, and  very few facts are introduced into the discussions.

For example, Sanka Price provides a solution to the cost of living by removing some taxes as done in Guyana.  Does Guyana provide the same level of social services as Bim? He makes no reference to the cost of such a solution and seems totally oblivious to any trade offs involved.

Continue reading

Forensic Audit Needed At The National Library Service And Why Did One Caribbean Media Value ‘Goodwill’ At The Nation Newspaper Ridiculously High Anyway?

BU has been investigating a couple of matters which led us to a particular place we do not like. We have decided to release what we have discovered and leave the BU family to slice and dice the information as they see fit. What has been evident from the inception of Barbados Underground is that there are an important few in Barbados whose sole existence is to guard the status quo at any cost. Until ordinary Barbadians buy into a philosophy which says we have to contribute to the job of protecting our fragile democracy through participation, the establishment will continue to flourish.

At a time when the country is going through an economic recession, officials at the National Library Service appear to be squandering taxpayers money to the benefit of a few. Do you remember a little while ago there was the furore over the vast  sums of money  spent on a public bath and the cutting of an Ackee tree?

A BU source has exposed a little of what may be described as the tip of the iceberg occurring at the National Library Service:

  • The son of an officer of the library was awarded a contract to cut the lawn at the St. Philip branch, and paid $2,200. In addition, the individual used the library’s equipment and to add insult to injury left over twenty garbage bags full of grass on the site. After being paid $2,200 to cut a relatively small area of grass, the job was estimated by others at approximately $500. The library then had to make arrangements to remove the grass. The eyebrow raiser is that the library employs a general worker to do   exactly what this official’s son was paid to do.
  • The same official paid her other son $6,000 to paint the Eagle Hall library on the inside only. Last time BU checked the Eagle Hall library was a tiny place.
  • Then there is the payment to the daughter of $6,000 to cater an event at the library. If one could smile at the abuse of tax dollars it would be that the food was delivered after the Minister and specially invited guests had long gone.

Our source admits that there is a lot more abuse of public funds taking place and if the minister responsible is interested it being a good guardian of the public purse he should order a forensic audit post haste!

Continue reading

Gaffe Was A Gaff After All

Picture on the left shows correct protocol with the US flag being flown on the diagonal pole, note the other the other flogs above it, picture on the right shows the single Barbados flag being displayed on a similar mast structure

We all make mistakes, the fallibility of man and all that jazz. It is those with the mindset who use mistakes as an opportunity to improve and ideally prevent recurrence  who seem to achieve more.

Last week the Nation Newspaper reported that the Barbados Yacht Club (BYC) was disrespecting the Barbados flag by having its flag displayed above the National Flag. The BYC to its credit reacted quickly to the criticism and withdrew all other flags flying with the exception of the Barbados flag, see picture above. It was reported the BYC checked with Lieutenant Colonel Sean Reece of Barbados Coast Guard who confirmed that the Club had been correctly flying the flags.

Here is how the Lieutenant explained it:

No other flag should be flown above ours if you have several single flags flowing from different flagpoles, but if you have a flag pole that is in the form of what was originally the mast of an old sailing ship, one where the diagonal pole sticks out from the vertical pole, then the position of honour on that flag pole (called the gaff) is where the Barbados Flag should be and where it was placed. So in essence they do have it in the correct position – Nation Newspaper 25 February 2011

The obvious question is why the Nation editor would not have afforded the BYC the opportunity to comment before going to press? In fact the correct protocol could have been easily researched on the Internet. The irony to some is that the national flag is often flown incorrectly on the Nation Newspaper complex at Fontebelle.

A case when a gaffe revealed that the gaff was indeed not a gaffe.

David Chaytor’s Conviction Confirms The Importance Of A Free Press – Enactment Of Integrity Legislation And Freedom Of Information A Requirement

When journalists can obtain public records, they need not rely on the whims of a government source to report on government actions and activities, and they can better disclose how tax dollars are spent and how policies are made and implementedMedia Law Handbook [2010]


The advent of the Internet means that the often held view according to New Yorker magazine contributor A.J. Liebling that, “Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns it” is no longer a rule of thumb. The increasing popularity of blogs and other social media players have given a voice to the PEOPLE. Compared to many developing countries, Barbados falls short in its failure to enact Freedom of Information laws (FOIA), a key prerequisite to facilitating freedom of expression. The government is on record that FOIA is in the pipeline, to be brought to parliament soon, one senses this is something it will action when it becomes politically expedient and not out of a sense of urgency to protect a fragile democracy.

The frightening reality remains that local journalists have to rely on government sources to confirm or deny information before releasing to the public. In Barbados this represents a worrying situation given our small size which breeds the opportunity to be victimized, manipulated or encourage corruption. While admitting that FOIA is not a panacea for all our problems, such legislation if enacted, would update existing laws to reflect that we are operating in the 21st century. The accepted practice of local media editors to ‘dumb down’ stories because advertisers may become offended occurs, is that not self censorship and a threat to democracy?

The Internet has given the opportunity for ordinary citizens to challenge power structures which have been controlled by interest groups with deep pockets.

Continue reading

Is Cruise Tourism Worth The Investment?

Adrian Loveridge - Hotel Owner

As a land based tourism entity, I clearly have strong opinions on this subject and any observations made, should bear this in mind in the interest of fairness and objectivity. Cruise tourism is a huge component of the overall global leisure industry and it is far better (in my opinion) to work with the sector and maximise the revenues and benefits. True home porting and the opportunities created by cruise and stay programmes offer the destination the best case economic scenario.

With the increase in airlift, especially from Sao Paulo and Dallas, plus planned new charter services from Northern England, it appears there is enormous further potential to build on the existing ships that use us as a turn around base. Cruise ship operators continue to have enormous advantages over their land based counterparts. These are almost too many to mention, but include substantially lower operating costs, in terms of labour, consumables and taxes. Ultimately if the going getting tough they can simply reposition and move their ‘investment’ to almost any other part of the world!

Conversely Governments have to invest massive amounts of money to accommodate these ships, and these costs will increase as the majority of newly built vessels dwarf their predecessors. While the state investment and passenger arrivals grow, does the amount each cruise passenger spends rise proportionally?

In a word NO!

Continue reading

Is The Barbados Population Being Properly Served By Its News Media?

Submitted by Yardbroom

 

The late great American writer Walter Lippmann said:

“The journalist’s role was to inform the public of what the elite’s were doing.  It was also to act as a watchdog over the elites, as the public had the final say with their votes”.

Within the above framework, ” journalism’s first obligation is to tell the truth”.

Why should journalists inform us: ” because an informed public is the only one that can correctly assess whether the society it inhabits is going off the rails”.

Perhaps I should say at the outset, this article has no political polemic, it is not for or against the BLP or DLP.  This should not be necessary, but regrettably a few of us, see every discourse through a narrow focus of political allegiance.

I put it to you, that a few too many of the major decisions, which have been taken in Barbados recently, were to the disadvantage of its citizens; and they possibly would not have been taken, had the electorate been better informed.  There was not the rigorous examination of proposals in the News Media, one would expect.  A couple projects, costing many millions of dollars were not properly examined, and because it was expedient not to “analyse” but to quietly “report” on what had been agreed, the almost empty cupboard, spewed out dollars with a haste that bordered on the obscene.

To be blunt the public were not “informed”, in the journalistic sense.

Without rigorous examination, journalists acquiesced to what history had taught them was a fait accompli.  The public accustomed to no more, accepted what they saw, as the engine turned in the background spewing tax payers dollars to the wind.

Continue reading

The Barbados Advocate, A Disgrace To The Fourth Estate

Attorney Alvin David Bryan (right) and Wilfred Abrahams (left)

Most people (used reservedly given the Advocate’s circulation numbers) have read the self-serving apologia in the editorial section of the Advocate directed at the Bajan blogosphere, in defense of what many agree is a toothless Fourth Estate of Barbados. A Fourth Estate that blandly and blindly follows the beat of the drum of whichever political party it is affiliated to, ignores glaring incidents of injustice in the Courts of Barbados and refuses to take members of government to task, even if the evidence jumps up and bites them on the gluteus maximus.

A few examples :-

  • Barbados is taken to court in Canada in a civil lawsuit with costs running (on both sides) to almost BDS$16 million. This lawsuit involves the future of over 1% of Barbados’ total landmass, the purchase of  influence of the Fifth Estate (blogs) at BDS1,300.00 per week, the establishment of a blog in Miami, Florida, the collection of shredded documents in Barbados and their shipment to Canada to be reconstituted, the surveillance of the former wife of Owen Arthur, the surveillance of the family and person of former Attorney General Mia Mottley in Florida, the staking out of the Barbados consular mission in Miami Florida and the proposal to follow and stalk employees of that mission, contributing to the upkeep and election aspirations of Minister Denis Lowe (including importing Canadian experts to assist with his election), the use of false names and documents, the jail sentence of one of the parties who is now a fugitive from justice. Barbados wins the case in Canada and all is REVEALED. The case is fully and completely reported BU (Go to Search Box and use ‘Peter Allard’), with full document back-up. Yet, neither the Nation or the Advocate has even attempted to report on the matter. For them, it is as though it has never existed and the BDS16 million it cost is nothing – to the extent, we have to ask if one blog was paid BDS1,300 per week by Peter Allard, how much were others paid? The only other explanation is dereliction of duty as members of the Fourth Estate. Sub judice cannot be used as an excuse here.

Continue reading

Cynical Reporting And Hidden Agendas

Credit: The Advocate Newspaper

Submitted by George Brathwaite

First of all I would like to commend the various media houses in Barbados for doing a reasonable job in reporting information to the public. However, there can and will be always room for improvements.

For some time now, I have become aware of a seeming change in traditional standards (i.e. declining) wherein the trend in news reporting in Barbados draws merited scepticism. Newspapers, for instance, protect their turf with an uncanny attachment toward their undeclared political interests and expect the general public to assume neutrality. To a large extent, the Barbados Advocate newspaper appears foremost in this indefensible circumstance.

After noticing the headlines of Wednesday 14 July 2010, which in bold typeface, communicates that Barbados Int‟l Reserves Increase, I felt heartened and confused simultaneously. This attention-grabber was coming on the heels of another electronic version, Barbados Today, in which that headline courted the notion that things were UNCERTAIN in the economy; this was substantiated in the Barbados Daily Nation appearing under the caption Gloomy Outcome and for which the first sentence states, “Central Bank Governor Dr Delisle Worrell says the outlook for Barbados‟ economy is uncertain.” Certainly there are mixed (i.e. different) messages being conveyed to the reader between the reporting of the Advocate and the two news carriers alluded to in this paragraph.

Continue reading

Never A Dull Moment In Barbados: Veteran Journalist David Ellis Squeezed Out From STARCOM Network?

Click image to read related blog

In recent days BU sense a quickening of the political pace in Barbados. We have had the statement floated by Minister responsible for economic affairs David Estwick about the necessity for a wage freeze and all hell has broken lose. Prime Minister David Thompson and Minister of Agriculture Haynesley Benn have declared support for the wage freeze initiative. To be predicted the cries of the unions, an IMF official, and the media houses have joined the fray, John Public has been given another reason to sit up and take note regarding the tottering economy.

What should be clear to most Barbadians on both sides of the political divide is the recognition the pace has quickened because the economy has started to spiral. It will take a a vision filled captain supported by a dedicated team to keep Barbados from running aground. Forget about restructuring the economy it has now become all about survival.

To add to the excitement, news reaching BU suggests veteran journalist David Ellis has resigned from STARCOM Network. Ellis has always attracted heavy criticism from BU because he is the lone journalist in Barbados who has the breath of knowledge and experience to qualify as a proper journalist. On the flip side, we understand he would have had to curtail and sacrifice his creative skills and dampened his journalistic curiosity at the altar of pure economic considerations during his tenure at STARCOM. Vic Fernandez along with his former Chief Operating Officer Alex Macdonald would have provided little wriggle room on that front. If our source is correct Ellis’ resignation seems the honourable thing for the veteran journalist to do. The fact he occupies the position as the only bona fide journalist in Barbados should still recommend him for a job. His former colleague Roy Morris seems to have bounced back with the recent launch of an online newspaper Barbados Today. God help Barbados if we are to assume Stetson ‘ the tueeesday edition’ Babb is the one groomed to fill Ellis’ shoes.

It will be business as usual on River Road, Vic will continue to drive his top of the line Audi to the office while his foot soldiers are sent home or harassed into leaving. Never a dull moment in Barbados.

Continue reading