In Barbados, another Internet blog, Barbados Free Press, is having a strong impact on politics in this country, in its effort to unmask corruption, agitate for freedom of information, transparency, and accountability, while developing a large readership and contributions from Government Ministers and other influential Barbadians… … Journalist Nicholas Cox from the Barbados Advocate
If the world needed one incident to show how difficult it is to be a journalist in Barbados, the government attack on BrassTacks journalist David Ellis provided that illustration. (See BFP’s article here)
But even before David Ellis came under fire for questioning Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch about his assets and integrity legislation, the Barbados media had started to examine how it became so weak and frightened.
The day after Minister Lynch stormed out of the Brass Tacks studio, journalist Nicholas Cox published the following article in the Barbados Advocate.
The article does not mention the Lynch/Ellis incident, and if we had to guess, it was probably written before the BrassTacks show in response to heavy criticism of the Bajan lapdog media from Barbados Free Press.
Mr. Cox speaks of a culture of “fear and victimisation” in the Barbados media and the fact that bloggers do not appreciate the “abusive calls that journalists endure as well as threats from politicians, and others, directed at their very livelihood.”
The attacks upon David Ellis and his subsequent lawyers-gun-to-the-head apology are proof enough that the media in Barbados lives under a culture of “fear and victimisation” as strongman Owen Arthur uses his power and threats to suppress free speech and a free press in Barbados.
The brave new world of non-traditional media
Web Posted – Mon Mar 26 2007
By Nicholas Cox
The role of the non-traditional media in politics got a serious boost recently, when the Internet blog The Huffington Post was credited with revealing the previously unknown creator of a video portraying 2008 US Presidential candidate, Senator Hilary Clinton, as a big brother type character in a spoof of an Apple commercial.
The video was traced to an employee at a media company employed by the Barack Obama campaign to improve its Internet presence, and appeared on the YouTube website. Obama’s campaign states that it had no connection to the creation or release of the video.
Appearing on the CNN news programme Reliable Sources on Sunday, commentator, Jeff Jarvis, described The Huffington Post’s coup as a great example of network journalism, journalism from the ground up. Founder of the blog, Arianna Huffington, described the process, “Last night, we sent out a challenge to the HuffPost team asking them to hit the phones and contact all their sources. As a result, we have learned the video was the work of Philip de Vellis, who was the Internet Communications Director for Sherrod Brown’s 2006 Senate campaign, and who now works at Blue State Digital, a company created by members of Howard Dean’s Internet Team.”
Responding to a question from the host of Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz, Jarvis explained that the blog was able to beat the mainstream media like CNN, and others in unmasking the source of the video, by reaching out to its network of commentators. Another commentator on the show spoke of the importance of video on demand, blogs, and the Internet on the whole, in getting the masses involved in the political system in the US, which he correctly described a positive move.
In Barbados, another Internet blog, Barbados Free Press, is having a strong impact on politics in this country, in its effort to unmask corruption, agitate for freedom of information, transparency, and accountability, while developing a large readership and contributions from Government Ministers and other influential Barbadians.
Unlike the Huffington Post, this blog is operating under the veil of anonymity, and sometimes carries out its work in the Bajan tradition of innuendo. Despite this, I believe that this and other blogs provide the important service of maintaining an outlet for the increasingly Internet-savvy Barbadians with concerns about the direction of this country, in a way that the traditional media cannot, mainly because of its constraints.
These blogs sometimes disparage the mainstream media in Barbados, in an adversarial tone, and there is hardly a mention of the fact that the media is hampered by the lack of the same laws whose implementation they have championed.
Furthermore, while there have been some early attacks on Internet blogs in Barbados from Government, it is important to note that these anonymous Internet outlets are much more unlikely to suffer from Barbados’ archaic slander and libel laws (because their location and identity is unknown and may be out of this jurisdiction), of which the mainstream media in this country is beholden to.
These blogs sometimes fail to realise that their anonymity can preclude them from abusive calls that journalists endure as well as threats from politicians, and others, directed at their very livelihood. This is not to say that journalists should be hamstringed by such threats and practice self-censorship. A renowned and controversial journalist in Jamaica once told me that our profession’s greatest protection is the very medium and the stories that we produce.
I support the calls for more investigative journalism, and try to heed them myself, but also recognise the aspects of Barbadian culture of fear of victimisation and lack of information that make this so difficult. The age of the Internet clearly fills a void in the traditional media, however, both aspects have deficiencies; ultimately its the public that benefits from the synergy between the two.
… read the original article online at the Barbados Advocate (link here)