Nicholas Cox asks “Where’s the professionalism?” but leaves out his own profession

In his latest column at the Barbados Advocate, Mr. Cox is aghast (and rightly so) that Barbados police officers, lawyers, and bus drivers – people we should be able to depend on to do the right thing – are being hauled before the courts for wrongdoing up to and including rape, kidnapping, major thefts and driving in a dangerous manner.

His article “Where’s the professionalism?” is a worthy read and he makes many good points.

But except as an afterthought Mr. Cox leaves out his own profession of journalism, so we’ll have to ask all the Barbados journalists… not “Where’s the professionalism?” but…

Where’s the investigative journalism?

Can someone list for me the last three pieces of true investigative journalism in Barbados? Didn’t think so!

Where’s the professionalism?

10/20/2009 By Nicholas Cox

Police officers being hauled before the courts for crimes like kidnapping and rape; a Transport Board bus driver facing charges for driving in a manner that was dangerous to the public; an attorney-at-law facing jail time for allegedly defrauding a client.

These are all worrying examples of the lack of professionalism that is becoming more common in Barbados. It seems that very few people take pride in a job well done. This is frustrating in every day situations, but apathy at work becomes especially concerning when innocent lives are at stake.

The expected response to this type of criticism will be that the type of behaviour mentioned above is not representative of people working in any profession, but yet another example of a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. However, it appears that the rot is well underway…

… continue reading at the Barbados Advocate Where’s the professionalism?


Filed under Barbados, Freedom Of The Press, News Media

26 responses to “Nicholas Cox asks “Where’s the professionalism?” but leaves out his own profession

  1. X

    Did you not read the whole thing: “This suggests the need for Barbadian professionals, including in my own area of employ, to take their jobs more seriously and display greater pride whatever service they provide.”

    You guys really are ridiculous!

  2. BFP

    Perhaps we would have given his throwaway line at the end more consideration had he detailed charges against journalists as he did with the police, lawyers etc. He could start with the Roy Morris train wreck and move on from there.

  3. X

    But the article was not about the journalism profession in particular, it was about professionalism generally in Barbados.

    You ask why he leaves out his own profession, but he didn’t, it is right there.

    Come on man, in future read all the way to the end and get your criticism right. Your gunslinger approach to journalism is no better than local journalists’ head-in-the-sand approach.

  4. X

    Also, “Vote Independent” is not a valid alternative in Barbados – there just aren’t any real candidates.

    I guess this is your lame way to not address your near-sightedness in supporting Thompson over Arthur in the last election. Almost like a nice little lapdog yourself.

  5. BFP

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree X. Cox did a worthy job expounding on some examples of bad behaviour by other professions, but the throwaway line at the end was exactly that: so folks couldn’t say “What about your profession?”

    We’re making the call that it could have even been thrown in by an editor to tidy things up.

    Ok… so you want to buy into the idea that a one-liner at the end clears him. I don’t.

    Like I said, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  6. peltdownman

    “The days of complacency towards one’s job are clearly over; employees must remember that with unemployment steadily rising there is always going to be someone else willing to replace you and do the job right.”

    Wrong, wrong. They will replace you alright, but do the job with the same lackadaisical, couldn’t care less attitude. THAT is the problem in Barbados right now.

  7. Hants

    It is truly amazing that Barbados has progressed to near first world status with an unprofessional workforce and a lackadaisical attitude.

    Imagine how truly great we could be.

  8. Anon99

    Ah, BFP I see you skillfully avoided responding to X’s reference to your blatant support for the DLP in the last general election. Just goes to show that in the end all politicians are basically the same, doesn’t it?
    Anyway, your almost veiled hit at Barbadian journalists yet again is starting to ring a little hollow.
    Whether you may like them or not, the majority of local journalists, regardless of their skill level, put themselves and their names out there for public scrutiny every day.
    What do you have to show in comparison? An anonymous, albeit very popular blog?
    This cry for investigative journalism and for local journalists to step up is nothing more than a heavy wash pan of drivel.
    If journalists had the wherewithal to own their own media houses, things would perhaps be vastly different here.
    As it is right now every journalist who operates at a “main stream” media house within these 166 square miles must operate with the reality of either an advertising shadow or political shadow standing over their respective shoulders.
    Journalists have been fired before either because a story that they wrote offended the wrong advertiser or on the other end of the spectrum, because they didn’t follow the political directive from whichever party was in power at the time.
    I really don’t know what “you people” expect journalists to do – Barbados is just different and all of you will have to accept that cold hard reality.
    When the B’s are in, the D’s talk a lot about Press freedom and freedom of information and even your precious topic of integrity legislation; when the D’s are in power the B’s do the same thing – it’s a cycle that can only be broken when a real journalist or journalists have the financial power to operate a media house.
    If you at BFP think that it is all so very easy and that you are doing “our” jobs for us so much better, then I hereby challenge you to strip yourselves of your anonymity forthwith – make the operators of BFP public and still try to continue to peddle the things that you presently do on this site.
    Take it from me, you won’t last a day.
    Have a great day BFP!

  9. BFP


    So tell us again please…

    Why hasn’t a single journalist on this island gone to Gline Clarke’s home on expropriated land, taken a photo, researched the history of the land and published a story about how a politician and Cabinet Minister with the government that expropriated the land ended up with a house on the land? Huh? Why? Come on… speak up…

    Sure, we know that you’d be fired, your wife would be threatened and your family members would lose their government jobs.

    We know that, and that is why we operate anonymously.

    BUT… as a real journalist you could put a dozen stories together on the side and feed them into the blogs anonymously for the sake of democracy and your children’s future.

    But you don’t

  10. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    @Anon99, what is it that makes it true that “Barbados is just different and all of you will have to accept that cold hard reality”?

    @BFP, Cox did point the finger at his own profession, and we can argue about why he did not detail more. Perhaps if he hit hard at his host it might not have appeared, and if it hit hard at a competitor it might have seemed partial. We also do not know what is on The Editor’s floor.

  11. An Acrostic dfPoem
    If you can’t see the acrostic, follow the link. All of Khaidji’s entries are done in Acrostic poetry

    Where’s The Investigative Journalism

    We once had a paper the Investigator
    Had good articles but its centerfolds caused an uproar
    Editions delved behind the scene
    Research into the personal and sometimes the obscene
    Educated us about Bajans’ other side
    Some of the things the aristocrats want us to hide
    They exposed the street life of those who
    Had questionable work and avoided the men in blue
    Escapades into the still of the night, shadows and dark
    Investigated them in the familiar street and our treasured park
    Now the paper was only in its infancy
    Virtually a startup when it met its finale
    Enticing photos distracted its readers
    So eventually it joined the fate of other lost leaders
    This could have been a first
    Investigating Barbados and its worst
    Greater insight into the things that perturb
    All the political deceits, religious hypocrites and those who disturb
    The publisher should have foreseen the Investigator’s fate
    It should have been clear we wanted journalists who investigate
    Voyeurism done respectfully with hopes that they
    Expose our miscreants who wore their suits each day
    Journalists seem to lack the appetite
    Or too afraid to climb into the trenches, knuckle up and fight
    Unable to shed new spins on old stories
    Repeating the same news in the papers, on radios and TV’s
    None of them emulate Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper
    Avid journalists who investigate to uncover
    Lies perpetrated from where ever the source
    Investigative journalism to quote right from the mouth of the horse
    Sure, if there is an appeal for police to act more professionally
    Most other professionals should take their work seriously

  12. In preparing items I go through my own Archives and sometimes I quote the Advocate with appropriate link, AT THAT MOMENT… When I click the link? I get a 404 asking if I want the Home Page… They still have no Search engine, only Jeff Cumberbatch has ever suggested why, I think.

  13. BFP

    Hi Ian,

    Yes, and they post the daily in JPGs not PDFs so Google can’t search it.

    The Nation News has now blockers on its website so the Google spiders and search engine crawlers won’t list it. Like the Advocate, the Nation likes to be able to change history whenever Massa says so.

  14. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    @Ian Bourne and BFP:
    The inability to search the electronic versions of the major local papers in a real problem, made more apparent when you get production glitches as the past weekend’s with the Nation/Sun. The fear of litigation may be legitimate but they seem to have gone to an extreme. At least the Advocate produces the whole paper in JPEG form, but only available for the day of issue, though. The Nation is a total electronic mess of potage; but I have found articles on Google that I cannot find with its search engine.

    See my post ‘Bloggers have a duty of care’ ( I mention following:

    ‘The Advocate had earlier in the year set out its policy (see Advocate, March 19), I reproduce it here in case it ever disappears:

    Freedom of the E-Press


    Most, if not all, of the world’s newspapers currently produce an online edition. This may differ, to varying extents, from the so-called “dead tree” or paper publication. Thus, for instance, the online edition of the Times of London is but a sampling of that day’s offerings in the print version. On the other hand, the entire Barbados Advocate daily publication, classified advertisements and all, is available online. This, we are inclined to believe, is unique. Still, unlike some other online publications, that of the Barbados Advocate does not archive its articles for any period thereafter.

    Whatever the nature of its online presence however, each press is undeniably subject to the same restrictions on its freedom of expression, especially with regard to defamation, as it is with its non-virtual edition. This state of affairs is to be contrasted with that relating to the blogs which,
    because of their ostensible anonymity, a quality not shared by the media houses, enjoy some degree of immunity and impunity in this context.

    As a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights makes clear, the law of defamation applies to online publications of a newspaper – even to the extent of holding the publisher liable for the continued publication in archives on its internet site of an article ruled defamatory.

    In September and October 1999, the Times published two articles reporting on a money laundering scheme carried out by an individual, one G. L., whose name was set out in full. Both articles were uploaded on to the Times website on the same day as that on which they were published in the paper. In December of that year, G. L. sued the Times for libel. While this action remained unheard, the articles remained on the Times website, accessible to users as part of its archive of past issues. In December of the next year, G.L. brought a second action for libel in relation to the continuing internet publication of the articles. Only then did the newspaper add a notice to the articles to the effect that they were subject to libel litigation and were not to be reproduced or relied on without reference to the Times legal department.

    The Times argued that only the first publication of an article posted on the Internet, and not any subsequent downloads by readers, gives rise to a cause of action in defamation. Hence, the December 2000 action had been commenced after one year, the limitation period for libel, had expired. This argument was unsuccessful in all the English courts. Thus the matter was appealed to the European Court on the basis that the application of the common-law rule that each publication of a defamatory statement gives rise to a separate cause of action, with the consequence that there was a fresh claim every time the defamatory material was accessed online, meant that the newspaper was subject to “ceaseless liability” and this could have a chilling effect on its readiness to provide Internet archives and thus limit its freedom of expression guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The Court, while it recognised the importance of Internet archives for educational purposes, did not consider that the requirement to publish an
    appropriate qualification to the Internet version of the articles, without removing them, was a disproportionate interference with the newspaper’s right to freedom of expression.

    It can be seen therefore that freedom of expression of the e-press is indeed no greater for the known publisher than it is in the print edition. And for those newspapers which keep Internet archives, the extent of possible liability for defamation is even wider, unless a warning notice is published.’

  15. art

    Following on from discussion yesterday re the need integrity legislation and the sweetheart 46M with the the D’s as an example:

    I was also disappointed to read Clyde “you give the B’s the government and we’ll give the TV station” Mascoll’s article last Friday.

    No where to run.

  16. Anon99

    @BFP Yes I do pride myself as a “real journalist” – I think you have any number of ways of narrowing down who this is.
    Unfortunately real journalists like myself are a rapidly dying breed – those who still remain in what is now a very watered down industry, have opted to tow the line to keep food on the table – it is simply a reality of survival.
    The thin-skinned culture that pervades Barbados often makes it very difficult to break the mold. I will revise my statements from yesterday to say that Barbados is indeed very different when it comes to the way we do things on a daily basis, our enforcement of laws – lackadaisical approach to public service etc. If you think that is a culture that can be changed overnight then I say good luck to you – trade unions, as useful as they can be are a part of the problem just as much as Government pandering, because trade unions tend to embolden those who actually work hard and those who waste taxpayers money on a daily basis with impunity.
    It is true that I could as you put it, “put a dozen stories together on the side and feed them into the blogs anonymously for the sake of democracy and your children’s future…” but to what end? A warm fuzzy feeling?
    Sure, stories like that would generate some discussion but more often than not it has been all for naught.
    Just like the others I have to take on a realistic selfish approach to a large degree.
    The “what’s in it for me” mentality is slowly sinking in because that is clearly how it has worked and continues to work in Barbados.
    It once sickened me when I saw how some of those in this noble profession would hitch their wagon to one party or the other to get whatever they could because I have always believed (naive as I am) that journalists should be objective and even if they may prefer one party over the other, actual be professional enough to call things down the middle.
    But now I can actually sympathize to some extent with their obsession with their personal survival in the long term.
    I’ve told you before that a combination of money and politics essentially control this little island and even though there are glimpses of an effort to uncover some of the dirty little secrets of what goes on behind some closed doors, well-meaning journalists can only do so much and can only go so far.
    It may sound like a defeatist attitude to you but as one who has seen this cycle for a fairly long time, I don’t see any kind of real change forthcoming in the near future.

  17. BFP

    Anon 99, you’ve given up and I can’t blame you. Most Bajans have given up on the old media and “professional” journalists too.

    As to what good it would do to post ten well-researched professionally written stories about corruption on the net… why post anything anywhere if you don’t believe your writing will change anything?

    Perhaps you should find some other calling.

  18. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    @Anon99, I’m not enamoured of anonymity, as should be clear. If anonymity is to allow you to write as you cannot under the umbrella of a media house, I wonder why in this Internet age, you cannot realistically shed the umbrella. It’s a topic for discussion not a stick with which to beat you. I was intrigued to see “Jeff Cumberbatch” now intervening on blogs as himself (assuming that it is the Jeff we think it is).

    The things you cite as marking Barbados as different are in much lesser degree than in many places.

    A “combination of money and politics essentially control this little island”, but that’s so almost everywhere, and Barbados has less money sloshing around: it does not get a lot of donor funds, or benefit from the large flows from mineral contracts, for example. It cannot be much different from say The Bahamas in that regard.

    “The thin-skinned culture that pervades Barbados often makes it very difficult to break the mold.” This may be a peculiarity of Barbados, but again, it’s not a convincing difference.

    “I will revise my statements from yesterday to say that Barbados is indeed very different when it comes to the way we do things on a daily basis, our enforcement of laws – lackadaisical approach to public service etc.” I think the ‘enforcement of laws’ of one of the big myths. If it really existed then the noise about the ‘ZR culture’ would not be there: adequate laws and regulations are on the books and they are simply NOT enforced. If it were the case then much of the brohaha about undocumented immigration would not be there: there are laws and regulations on the books that are not enforced, by the Immigration Department, by employers, by landlords, by immigrants. If it were the case, much of the discussion about education would not be taking place: school attendance is mandatory and yet we hear of wanton absenteeism (take the recent Garrison School case), lateness, etc.

    We read about crooked lawyers, funky land deals, filching bank staff, etc.

    These are not characteristics of a law-abiding society.

    So I do not buy it. Barbados may not be the most lawless but it is very far from being law abiding.

  19. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    @Anon99, (I have a longer piece awaiting moderation). I take the view that nothing ventured, nothing gained is still a valid maxim. You will not know how far you can travel if you do not make the first steps. We are often ready to throw in the towel before we have really had a fight. I would encourage you, if you have the ability and information to ‘tell it like it is’. I say that you should go boldly or let’s all just pack up our tents.

  20. Hants

    moderation again?

  21. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    @BFP 2 comments been stuck in moderation for over 12 hours…

  22. BFP

    Hi Dennis…

    They were wayyyyy down the list and we didn’t see them, but they are free now. If you don’t see them within an hour please let us know. Just the spam filters.

    Thanks for contributing to the community.

  23. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    @BFP, everything in its time. That spam filter is ultra sensitive.

  24. BFP

    Hi Dennis,

    Yes I wish we could change it, but we don’t have control of the core functions. You know we get over 1000 spams a day? Mostly viagra, lonely rich Nigerian widows, make $432 per day from your computer… that sort of thing.

    Robert has been working over and away for three months, George has been out of sorts (sick) and Clive has a new job so it has been a bit of a bother around here trying to keep up. Fortunately Robert is back soon and he has all kinds of stories and adventure. Maybe some photos too if they won’t identify him. He was very embarrassed (I can say this cause he’s going to tell all) because he made a little mistake and had what he euphemistically calls “an incident”. Not sure if he’ll call it a “mistake” but that’s what is sounds like to me. 🙂

  25. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    @BFP, but looking at some entries in ‘Blog policies’ it seems that some real spam escapes.

    I’m less concerned about the comments appearing at the instant, than that they appear in good time and are not deleted.

    Look forward to ‘exposes’ 🙂

  26. BFP

    Hi Dennis

    I think we got all yours and we’ve taken care of some spam that snuck through. It’s a constant battle.