Looking Closely At A Specific News Story
Last week most of the BFP gang had a rare luncheon meeting near Oistins that turned into a two hour marathon discussing media literacy. Here’s a definition of “media literacy” that we’ll adopt for now…
Media literacy is the ability to sift through and analyze the messages that inform, entertain and sell to us every day. It’s the ability to bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media— from music videos and Web environments to product placement in films and virtual displays on NHL hockey boards. It’s about asking pertinent questions about what’s there, and noticing what’s not there. And it’s the instinct to question what lies behind media productions— the motives, the money, the values and the ownership— and to be aware of how these factors influence content.
… from Jane Tallim & Media Awareness Network (link here)
Some of us are of the opinion that most Bajans lack even basic media literacy skills and while I’m personally not willing to say “most”, there are far too many people on this island who read the papers or watch television and actually take what is presented at face value.
I have been there myself, reading the paper or listening to the radio and not thinking about why certain aspects of stories are always left out, or why the television news story gives one side a minute to talk and the opposition only ten seconds. For me that unquestioning attitude stopped about five years ago and I began to look at the individual news stories with much more care.
With a little thought I began to see how “news” can be created or ignored – how much of the “news” in the Barbados papers is taken directly from government or business media releases and re-written in the style of the author with hardly a thought or a question. I also saw how even letters to the editor were gutted of facts when they were a little too persuasive. The Bajan media can be so good at pretending to present both sides of a story while favouring one version.
We grapple with the same issues at Barbados Free Press every day – but we have always said that we are willing to print the other side of a story if someone wants to compose a piece. (For some reason, Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke still hasn’t taken us up on our offer to print his side of the story of why he built a home on land that his government expropriated!)
Our main point is that every media outlet – including BFP – and every news source, has an agenda, likes, dislikes and personal biases.
That’s only human. As media readers or viewers, it is up to individuals to question every news story we are presented with – looking not only for the truths and lies, but also for the omissions and the whys. And especially the origin of the news story. Who told the reporter about the story? Why did they tell the reporter about the story? Did the reporter ask any questions, verify facts or ask any opposing source?
So here’s a “news” story about the meeting between Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon last Wednesday. Read the story and then I’ll give you my 2 farthings…
Cross border taxation an issue for the UN, says Barbados PM
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: There is a need for an agency to establish rules to govern cross border taxation issues, and given its mandate, the United Nations is perhaps best able to perform this role, said Barbados prime minister Owen Arthur during a courtesy call from UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, on Wednesday.
Arthur said that cross border taxation issues were becoming more important and had increased validity as countries moved towards a global economy. He acknowledged the existence of a committee at the level of the UN, but advocated that its work should now be at the level of an agency.
He pointed out that Barbados did not want to be used for tax evasion or money laundering, but wanted to participate in legitimate business with international tax corporations. He said the country was therefore keen to work with the UN on matters related to international tax corporations.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister also stressed the importance of middle income countries being recognised for their successes by the global community. He argued that whilst lesser developed countries must continue to be given attention, there was an “inefficient distortion” of the flow of resources which needed to be re-examined.
Arthur therefore suggested that middle income countries should not be penalised for their achievements, but rather, they should be seen as ‘change champions’ and should be involved in strategic alliances which would be enriching.
Secretary General Ban agreed with Arthur that countries like Barbados should be better recognised for their accomplishments. Noting that he was “fascinated” by the level of development which Barbados had achieved, he commended the country for its ability to overcome challenges such as extreme poverty.
Discussions also focussed on the technical assistance that could be offered by the UN for the regional integration process, the need for a long-term approach by the international community to the challenges being faced by Haiti, and strategies to combat global warming.
… original story at Caribbean Net News
The UN Secretary General was in Barbados for the week and, according to Ian Bourne’s impeccable sources, he was primarily here for a vacation. He made a few “courtesy calls” of government leaders while he was here but the term “courtesy call” indicates that nothing substantive was intended to come from these meetings. Read “photo opportunity” instead of “courtesy call” and you’ll be closer to the truth… which is that the Secretary General of the United Nations can’t go anywhere on vacation without dropping in to say “hi”. It would be an insult if Ban Ki-moon came to Barbados for a little R&R and didn’t spend an hour or two with some of the country’s bigwigs.
Where did this story originate?
Did Caribbean Net News actually have a reporter at the press conference, or did they piece the article together from other sources, perhaps including a government press release of what the PM was going to say? I don’t know… but it doesn’t look like an “I was there” piece with quotes.
Concerns Over Barbados As A Money Laundering & Tax Evasion Center
Prime Minister Arthur’s main message at the “photo op” – that cross-border taxation is an issue for the UN, along with his mentioning that “Barbados did not want to be used for tax evasion or money laundering” is an indication of the recent pressure that Barbados is facing from the United States and Canada as those two countries seek to tighten up the rules and their scrutiny of offshore banking centers like Barbados.
Arthur then went into his typical begging mode, complaining that we aren’t getting our share of UN funds because we are a “middle” country and not dirt poor chaos like Haiti. This was much the same message as Mia Mottley gave when she met with the UN Secretary General – give us money. More of the same: Barbados as international beggar. If we aren’t going to the EU for sugar money, then it’s China for naval equipment or the USA for anti-drug funding. Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie!
The Short Story…
There really wasn’t any news here – except for the indication of the pressure that the Barbados Government is currently facing as an offshore banking center that is being targeted (rightly or wrongly) by the United States and Canada as a tax-evasion and money laundering haven for US and Canadian citizens.
That’s our take of the story… What’s yours?