Barbados Strongman Owen Arthur Holds Media In Firm Control

Castro_Owen_Arthur_Gay1.JPG

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)

17 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Blogging, News Media, Politics & Corruption

17 responses to “Barbados Strongman Owen Arthur Holds Media In Firm Control

  1. De Orginal

    If Bryan find out he bigging up Free Press he fired

  2. Get In The Action

    Isn’t there a Caribbean Association of Journalists of some kind that issues an annual report on threats to press freedom by territory. Ironically I distinctly remember David Ellis being involved with this body in the past and issuing comment on these reports.

    What will they say about freedom of the press in Barbados now that he has been effectively neutered. He has been removed from the main talk show and his popular Sunday show has dealt with ridiculously tame topics the last few weeks.

  3. Pat Hoyos as Brass Tacks moderator is another casualty in all of this, as a business journalist he is very competent but to handle a call-in Programme’s like VOB’s? He leaves a lot of room for improvement – perhaps BFP can moderate using SKYPE via proxies and a vocal distorter, LOL!

    Ellis has been relegated to being producer for evening’s Tell It Like It Is.

    Due to the fact I choose not hide, in my own News-Blog I must tread a wary line for my story on the effort to relocate Emmerton folk to Barbarees, yet interestingly enough there has been no more construction at the moment… But I am still to hear from Rev. Atherley, and Virgil Broodhagen remains my only ally here in my fight to redeem the status quo!

    As to the other stories I do, I recall seeing an Advocate staffer at an assignment recently and I decided to let slip about the existence of my News Blog and he says that BFP, Bajan Reporter and Zanz are what he reads to look for local stories!

    Well-Well-Well!!

  4. Get In The Action

    Ian ‘

    It’s been noticeable for a long time that both newspapers have been sourcing story lines from BFP and Bajan Reporter.

  5. No - Name

    Ian,
    David Ellis hosted one program last week but it seems obvious that it was not business as usual. I get the impression that he might be in this all alone..no support.

    The sunday programs have toned down significantly.

    This is why the blogs are so important, The reality is that a minority really have this island under Siege. The majority of us are afraid to challenge the powers that be.
    The BFP has the potential of signifiicantly changing the way things are done in Barbados.

  6. concerned

    David Ellis should never feel that he is alone because he is not alone. He has done something very important and positive for his country.

  7. De Orginal

    Ian Bourne again wonder when his site or comments will launch attacks on those warranted. He seem to forget when he started out as a news anchor. He left a lot to be desired. Dont throw stones when you live in glass houses. I believe Pat has a wealth of talent to offer this country cut him some slack…….he now starting out.

  8. Anonymous

    Let’s not get our heads too big about this.

    BFP has the potential yes, but let Nature takes its evolutionary course.Doan rush de brush!

  9. Anonymous

    D.Original.
    Be realistic nuh!
    “Ian Bourne again wonder when his site or comments will launch attacks on those warranted.”

    CuhDear de man is a govt employee!
    he wukkin fuh SSA. He blogs under his own name.
    He is in no position to play Hero.

    Eh?

  10. Jerome Hinds

    Anonymous

    April 16th, 2007 at 1:30 am

    D.Original.
    Be realistic nuh!
    “Ian Bourne again wonder when his site or comments will launch attacks on those warranted.”

    CuhDear de man is a govt employee!
    he wukkin fuh SSA. He blogs under his own name.
    He is in no position to play Hero.

    Eh?
    _________________________________

    Anonymous,

    Are you implying that Ian Bourne……Should Serve Arthur ( SSA )…..?

    Eh ?

  11. paul sealy

    $eymour wants the rags to print lies and gossip and henceforth keep the electorate as dumb as possible to what he and his gang are doing to this country,he would rather us talk about for example “sally and her five men” or “john bukky and how many men he has” that kind of crap to keep filling our minds with and forget about the true issues that affect this country,but as long as there are blogs he has to keep hiding…cause we ain’t forgetting the short comings of these criminals,you can’t expect a first world Barbados with these ancient laws you run Barbados with…free the press or forever have your conscience bother you.

  12. True Native

    GET A MOBILE PHONE! (Who hasn’t got one?) In the British Daily Mail newspaper today there is a report that bees are dying off, thanks to mobile phones!!

  13. Anonymous

    “you can’t expect a first world Barbados with these ancient laws you run Barbados with”

    Glad you mentioned that, because the thing that came thru the most in that Advocate article
    was the admission by the writer ..how much the local Press’ hands are tied by Ancient Laws!

    -and so First World Barbados ‘progresses’ into the 21st.Century HOBBLED by 18th. Century Law???

    How many other Laws do we need changing, enacting?
    Just how bad is our legal situation, viz a viz a modern progressive society??

  14. Dinosaur relics

    Let me give you an example of ancient Bajan laws and legal redundancy.
    Two decades ago, I was involved in a project related to underwater archaeology in Carlisle Bay. Researching legal matters relative to the project, it was discovered that a law existed, requiring divers in Carlisle Bay (nowhere else!) to apply for a diving license/permit.
    Max. fine for not having such…twenty four dollars.

    Legal counsel was sought on the matter, but we were told that the matter could be ignored,since it no longer applied. Pressing further as to the origins of this quaint and curious piece of geographically-delineated legislation, it transpired that this law was ‘seen fit’ back in our pre-DeepWaterHarbour days, when shipping anchored in Carlisle Bay to offload cargo.

    In the process of getting goods from cargo hold to the “lighter” waiting alongside, slings would occasionally fail and valuable goods would plunge into the depths.
    Once water depth was less than about 30-35ft. recovery was a distinct possibility, but necessitated local divers who would go down with ropes, and one’s goods were often successfully recovered from Davy Jones’ grasp.
    But the local divers were a hardy tough lot, quarreled and fought among themselves, needed regulation, and so this law was enacted to have them register,which presumably also entailed some order and discipline.

    The Bridgetown Harbour was opened four and a half decades ago, putting the Carlisle Bay recovery divers out of business, and making that law immediately redundant, except for any tourist divers on pleasure craft who dive down to check the wreck of the BERWYN (scuttled by her crew,back in 1916) – but would we want to prosecute Tourists on holiday? for diving in Carlisle Bay?…poor things!
    ———————
    Someone please tell me that this law has since been eradicated from our Barbados Law Books?
    There must be someone in here who can verify whether this law is still enabled, or has been removed?

  15. Discovery

    Here we have a minister of Gov’t who has been put there by the taxpayers of this country generating a serious amount of wealth out of nowhere and when he is asked where it has come from he gets on his high horse and walks out of the studio, it certainly would be the last time he did that to me if I was the interviewer however our media is so controlled by the ruling party that we have the reverse happening we have the censorship of the moderator this is a sad day indeed for we the people of this island when polticians can exhibit such a level of control that mutes the voices of the people.
    I guess this can be considered Owing following in the footsteps of the Beast of Roebuck street Tom Adams who ruled with terror and vindictivness and stopped at nothing to destroy those who were not his lackeys, this is very siminlar to the way Owing and Mia etal are operating.

  16. LMAO – I love all the comment laid at my door, I never said Pat wasn’t bad? I said he is better at hunting and delivering a BUSINESS story, but his moderating skills have much room for improvement…

    Ergo? He can get more incisive, but it takes time, when I read News I was accused of having a stone face at first, but that’s okay! In time, I learned how to be expressive, no biggie!

    As for “Get In The Game”, thanks for the compliment, I realise that too!!

  17. Sick and fed up Sylvan

    Do not forget what happened to Reudon Eversley when he was editor of the Advocate for 2 short years in the late 1990s. He can tell you a lot about BLP harassment. He being a relative of Cameron Tudor (DLP kingmaker) was the problem. Eversley (now writes a weekly column now with the Nation) stood up to Owen Arthur when he was trying to meddle in the Advocate. Eversley wrote an article about an IMF report on Barbados and Owen Arthur tried to get the Advocate to fire Eversley but Eversley stood his ground and reported Arthur to an international press body. It got so bad for Eversley the Advocate’s board censured him for not eating Barbados Labour Party food when the BLP launched their election campaign in 1999. The board threatened to fire him but backed down after Eversley sought legal advice and was planning to sue the Advocate for violating his rights. After the McAl group sold the Advocate and Eversley had to leave because Bryan as a big B would never hire him, he had to leave Barbados for 4 years because he was told he had to starve. This is what happens to journalists in Barbados who refuse to lick ass. Barbadians call on journalists to do investigative journalism but they never stand up for journalists who are brave to ask questions and raise issues they are interested in. Thank god for the internet and BFP. Press freedom in Barbados now has a new lease on life. the politicians can run but they cannot hide any more