For Almost Two Years…
Since January 17, 2006, Barbados Free Press has been not only a publisher of news and information, this blog has been an open forum where Bajans and others have enjoyed the freedom to discuss issues and information that is censored from public discussion in the mainstream Barbados media.
We and our readers have called for accountability, integrity and transparency on the part of our elected and appointed government officials, and we don’t believe it is an exaggeration to say that Barbados Free Press has become an important force in Bajan politics and media.
The influence of Barbados Free Press and other Bajan blogs has been expanded by the recent introduction of “print editions” that are being distributed on paper and in emails to thousands of our fellow citizens who do not have daily access to the internet.
We have asked questions, raised issues and published information that infuriated the ruling political, news media and business elites who previously enjoyed control of the local information and news that Barbadians were able to access. One only has to look at how the entire Barbados news media ignored the current scandal involving flyover contractor Jonathan Danos and 3S Structural Steel Solutions to realise the tremendous forces involved in trying to censor news from ordinary Bajans. (BFP story links here and here)
Ongoing Government Attack Against Barbados Free Press And Freedom Of Information
For several weeks, agents of the Government of Barbados have attacked Barbados Free Press comments section with the intent of preventing Barbados citizens from freely discussing important issues. The recent publication of our print edition sent the government into a frenzy and resulted in a 24-hours-a-day non-stop deluge of the most vile comments being posted on BFP by agents of the Owen Arthur government.
The lives, families and homes of some of our commenters were threatened. The government thugs threatened to have at least two of our named commenters fired from their jobs. Another commenter was told that his business would be ruined.
Our lives and the lives of our families were openly threatened in our comments section by persons whom the Royal Barbados Police Force can readily identify with the information we will soon publish. That is… they could be identified should the police choose to uphold their honour, the law and citizens’ rights rather than devoting themselves to the service of their temporary political masters.
Comments Are Down – Visitors and New Visitors Are Up… Way, Way Up!
The staff of Barbados Free Press – Shona, George, Robert, Cliverton, Auntie Moses and Marcus – have been performing real time spam control about 20 hours a day, but when we step away from the old PC for even 15 minutes, the comments are filled up with such filth and violence that our ordinary commenters are not bothering to engage in discussion any longer.
That is the down side of what has happened during these past few weeks.
What has happened to our circulation is something that we could have only dreamed of a year ago…
Over 2 Million People Will Visit Barbados Free Press This Year
That’s unique daily visitors, not page views, folks!
Frankly, we are still in awe at the increase in visitors to BFP during the last two months. When we remove all the government attacks from the statistics, Barbados Free Press had over 200,000 daily visitors in August. To put this in context, the government BLP Blog has logged just over 44,000 visitors in the last seventeen months – since May of 2006. (Contrast Barbados Free Press visitors for August 27, 28 & 29, 2007 – 44,104 visitors during a three day period!)
Add our print edition and email distribution to those numbers and one can understand why the Government of Barbados feels it must stop Barbados Free Press and the other Bajan political blogs. Another month of flyers being left on ZR seats and there won’t be many Bajans who have not heard of the words “transparency”, “freedom of information laws”, “accountability”, “conflict of interest” and “integrity legislation”.
The dark corners cannot survive when sunlight reveals all.
All Comments Will Be Moderated At Least Once A Day – But Probably More Often
As Barbados Free Press is a spare-time venture of a group of concerned citizens, we have been forced to make a decision about allocating our time. We simply cannot keep up with the government paying four or five people working shifts to attack us 24/7 in a coordinated effort.
We would rather spend our time researching and writing hard hitting articles about the important issues facing Barbados than to spend a cumulative 20 hours a day sorting through a thousand vile and threatening comments.
Here is how we will run the comments section to allow our readers to continue to discuss issues while protecting them from the government attacks…
All readers’ comments will be held for daily moderation by one of our staff. We promise to sort through them at least once a day to remove the trash and approve the rest. The reality is that we will probably be approving comments every few hours. While this might limit some of the spontaneity of the discussion, at least our readers will not have to put up with the constant barrage of foul language and threats from government thugs.
We will use our regained time to research and write the articles that we know our fellow citizens want.
Tomorrow we will post two articles that you won’t want to miss. First, we will tell you why the Codrington Family died in the collapse of their apartment building, and how criminal it was – because it should have been prevented. It was a tragedy, but it was no accident of chance.
Second, we will publish exclusive photos of the inside of Queen Elizabeth Hospital that will reveal the filth, despair and ruin resulting from the chronic under-funding, neglect and poor management of what was supposed to be the people’s hospital.
BUT RIGHT NOW…
We’re going to take a break tonight and have a few beer with folks who love Barbados and their fellow citizens more than I can describe. I will then go home and kiss my sleeping children and say the same prayer over them that I say every night. I will also promise them the same silent promise I make every night – to have my children grow up in a Barbados that is free of government corruption. A Barbados where rule of law, justice and honour are not subservient to the quest for material wealth.
In the morning my wife will open her eyes, and in that hazy time between sleep and awake when no person can hide their true feelings she will smile when she first sees me. I am truly a blessed man.