As a follow-up from the last piece on the role of the media in the TCI and its involvement or “interference” with things political, it is interesting to see how events unfolded in the Supreme Court this week and in light of facts that emerged. These “facts” illustrate that an interview in a local media house, the Sun newspaper (the “Sun”), made front page news whilst the story reported on was proven false.
In a previous Sun article it stated that the Sun interviewed Dr Ed Smith, People’s Progressive Party (“PPP”) candidate for Cheshire Hall, and he stated that he did indeed renounce his US citizenship prior to elections; that he spoke with the attorney general prior to the elections and that the AG said “all is well” in not so many words.
It was shown that in the TC Weekly News, a well-respected journal, that Dr Smith did not repeat these statements to the Weekly News and that there was an element of incredulity creeping into the front page story carried by the Sun. In sum, it could be said that the TC Weekly News carried the more accurate account.
The hearings this week in the court did not bear these points out and it is now questionable as to what Dr Smith said to the Sun. Wider issues now emerge concerning the objectivity of local media in the TCI.
The Sun’s story seemed to overly favour the position of the PNP candidate, Amanda Missick to the expense of the PPP candidate or that of the PDM’s candidate Oral Selver. Where is the “balance” in this account?
This clash of realities, stories, accounts, etc, does indeed beg a far more serious question about the role of the media in the TCI and whether media houses are indeed free to get so deeply involved in politics and the siding of one political party to the detriment of reality or extreme bias. Essentially was the TCI Sun actually campaigning for the PNP and or were they an integral part of the PNP’s campaign? These are ‘biting’ questions for the Integrity Commission and we must ask whether the Integrity Commission will look into this situation because another issue is emerging.
Some people in the TCI do regard the Sun as a regular media house with the requisite level of impartiality, detachment, independence as a well-respected media house. On closer examination it seems that this perception is subject to further thought and people may well wonder if the Sun is independent enough from the PNP campaign to be taken seriously or sufficiently objective as a newspaper in the TCI? That when I read the Sun, what am I reading? Genuine news, emotional, partisan behavior or actual PNP campaign rhetoric?
It may be safely and sufficiently said that the TC Weekly stayed out of the campaign, remained objective and retained its distinction of a well-respected paper living up to its regional, local and standards of excellence. The editor, it must be repeated ad nauseam, because this is so important to objective reporting, stayed out of politics and the stories ran were sensible, well written, excellent but in reality serious and credible news.
Whereas in the entire election campaign we saw where the Sun run an advertisement, trying to make it look as if the PDM placed an ad “looking for a leader”. Curiously this ad was not run in other well respected media. It did not appear in the Weekly News, the Free Press, WIV, PTV or anywhere else. It actually invited criticism and speculation that the ad may well have been run by the Sun itself and formed part of the editorial of that paper.
Again the Integrity Commission, the Supervisor of Elections, the Attorney General, whoever has oversight, should take these allegations seriously and look into them. The PNP manifesto, it is said, was printed by the Sun Media Group. Certain questions do arise again. Was this printing function paid for and/or whether it a campaign contribution.
It was hard to separate reality from objectivity when it emerged that the Sun developed a personal bias and attack on PDM leader Oswald Skippings. It begged many observers to read what seemed like attacks and “spins” on the interviews that the Hon Skippings gave the Sun. Emerging, it seems, it was a totally different account than what he actually said to them.
In the final analysis, the respect, taint and objectivity of local TCI media is at issue. Newspapers like the TC Weekly News have stood the test of time and have remained untainted from bias, or deep association with either of the main parties PDM and PNP. This is perhaps why many persons wait to “see what the Weekly News has to say” before they can take a story in the media seriously.
The reality is that media accounts, media stories and writings are now being scrutinized so seriously that we must be careful what we read again. Oversight bodies such as the Integrity Commission must really look into these issues. These are biting realities and we as a reading public must now be vigilant to take seriously what is news and what is personal political spin.