Apart from the snide remarks appearing in an editorial published elsewhere on Wednesday, Caribbean Times is not derailed in its efforts to be informative, reliable, and enriching regarding its publication of the newspaper. Indeed, borrowing from the thrust of Edmund Burke’s thinking, Caribbean Times is fully aware that the media is indicative of the ‘Fourth Estate’, further suggesting an importance far more important than meets the eye.
Caribbean Times will only commend that particular media house for asking questions, even if too often, the story line may be inaccurate or radically sensationalised beyond the accurate reflection of ‘truth and facts’. Nonetheless, the media does have an important role to play (including those critical of Caribbean Times), and particularly as it relates to the shared responsibility of acting in the public’s interest as a ‘watchdog’ or ‘overseer’ of the activities of government.
There is no doubt that press freedoms have to be protected at every turn. That is not to say that the media has to become demagogic since it is all too familiar with the notion that the media itself can influence public opinions and hence help to shape the political fortunes of governments. Indeed, it is particularly for that reason, that while media would want to maintain a fair degree of independence in its investigations and reporting, there is a trust element that must be established, even with the politicians that can be so easily loathed and sometimes despised.
Let us be real! There is a symbiotic association and complex relationship that must be established and nurtured between media and the political class. Governments need the media and the media similarly needs to be able access vital information, sometimes hidden, and at other times suppressed, because the public does have a right to know unless such knowledge represents a danger to national security or otherwise is invective to the public interest.
Contrary to the assertion being conveyed by that editorial alluded to at the beginning of this piece, it is clear that even the most unwilling media house must be sufficiently pliable as to engender harmonious relationships so that informed commentary, accurate reporting of facts, and the decisions and posturing of governments can be appreciated in the specific contexts of the nation’s interest.
Tensions will naturally occur but these can be managed. So that it is not always the lure of commercial activity that can define the sway of the media house, but more realistic, is maintaining a fair degree of presence to the truth and facts while never allowing integrity or intellectual honesty to be ever compromised. It is particularly that balance that goes amiss, but when pointed out, the defence is that “you over there are covering” the ineptness or other fault of the government.
Caribbean Times, even with its limited resources and relative newness in the newspaper industry in Antigua and Barbuda, will not create unnecessary fights; instead, Caribbean Times will continue to report fairly and validly on the things happening. When government appears to be going off track, or when politicians step out of bounds, Caribbean Times will report on such things. Equally, Caribbean Times has no reluctance or resistance, whatsoever, to reporting several of the positives being done by this or any other administration.
Perhaps, there may be need for the olive branch. The extent that this is possible cannot solely rest with Caribbean Times pitting government against opposition and vice versa. However, it is fairness and understanding that symbiotic association and always putting the people’s interest first that will guide the direction of Caribbean Times, at least under the tenure of the current editor.