Cyber Cowards & Media Access

Caribupdate

by Caribupdate Weekly

14 April 2016

One of the more exciting and interesting components of our secondary schools’ education system in the last few years has been the Grenlec–sponsored debate. The teenage debaters always are thorough in their research, passionate, eloquently articulate their points of view, and forcefully challenge one another on issues — and issues only.

We wish we could say the same about our adults, including those adults who are elected or appointed to high office in the land, as well as those aspiring to political office and their ardent supporters.

It is shocking, often painful and embarrassing, to hear these big men and women — sometimes in the Houses of Parliament, often on radio and television talkshows — engaging in direct and indirect insults; and providing non-sequitur responses to comments and questions.

But by far, the worst of this phenomenon is reserved for cyberspace; for those places and spaces where many use the anonymity of cyberspace and hide behind fake names, to cowardly attack in the most gratuitous fashion, anyone with whom they disagree.

This type of behaviour is evident on many blog sites frequented by Grenadians, and even on Facebook. It takes a higher level nasty viciousness when the political stakes are heightened around particular issues.

One such issue is, and has been, the future of Camerhogne Park in Grand Anse, St George’s. Incidentally, on this issue, the cyber attacks have been directed mostly at those whose opinions are in support of relocating Camerhogne Parke. We have seen it happen to Dr Lawrence Joseph; we have seen it happen to Arley Salimbi Gill, a regular columnist for Caribupdate Weekly.

After Gill wrote a commentary advocating for relocating the park, few of those who disagreed presented any argument on why they disagreed with him. Generally, they ignored the message and attempted to shoot the messenger, Arley Salimbi Gill. This is easily confirmed by a sampling of the responses.

For example, one person responded to Gill, saying: “Yes, you moron! Deny us access to enjoy the pleasure of our own beach in exchange for a couple of low paid jobs designed for uneducated Grenadians. Low life, ignorant, partial scums like you make me sick’’.

Another sunk into the use of obscene language, telling Gill that “Peter David, all ah U, same f..king thing: greed, greed, greedy bunch’’. A third contributor to what ought to have been a debate would let Gill know that, in her opinion, “you are an idiot’’. Other attempted put downs, totally unrelated to debating the Camerhogne Park issue, were comments of “another political opportunist’’ and “you are a sell out; a house slave’’.

The point is, we can’t build an adult, a mature society, when our adults are acting immaturely; when adults are saying one thing and doing the complete opposite.

We spare no moment reminiscing of the good old days of mannerly Grenadian children and admonishing today’s generation for not exhibiting good behaviour and manners. Yet, in our public discourse as adults, we swear at one another, and launch verbal assaults at one another, especially our political opponents.

And Adults, instead of taking the lead in cleaning up and preserving the environment, are the worst polluters. As Senator Brenda Hood, the Minister of Culture, told reporters last week:  “A lot of the times, it’s not the children that mess up; the adults who are doing it.  The children are the ones that really, really take the lead on that (environment cleanliness). I think they can influence the parents and the teachers. If you want to protect and keep your country clean, each one has a responsibility.’’

We often hear the repeated claim of creating a bright future for the nation’s children. If we really and truly want to do that, we must act and speak in ways conducive to creating a bright future.

And, as a final note, Caribupdate Weekly would like to briefly comment on complaints we have heard from some colleagues on media access to the just-concluded Pure Grenada Music Festival. Some in the accredited media are upset and alleging “disrespect’’ at being told that they would be “granted general access only and taken backstage only by prior request and then approval of artistes’’.

We are sure that the security and safety of performing artistes were one of the paramount concerns of the organizers in whatever conditions were set down for media personnel, patrons and others.  What we are seeing, however, is a pattern emerging when it comes to dealing with local journalists and photographers when there are big events in Grenada. Too often, reporters and their media houses are treated as an after-thought, and grudgingly accommodated as an unwanted appendix at these so-called big news events.

But, it ought to be said, that the media — the owners mainly — must bear the brunt of the blame for the treatment of their journalists and photographers. For most of the year, owners and managers seemingly allow themselves to be used in the cheapest of ways; apparently establishing no criteria for distinguishing between genuine news and infomercials and blurring the lines between free promotions and news; and allowing their staff to run around covering no-news events, where trinkets would be on give away and, perhaps, free food and drinks.

Until the media themselves up the ante and take their operations to a higher professional level, they’ll never get the respect they only recognize is not given to them when they feel shutout at a major event they were not able to cover or were severely restricted in covering.

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