The heavily promoted 21 September edition of FLOW CC6’s “You Decide” raised expectations that by the end of the TV show, the Grenadian people would have been more enlightened and more educated about the current constitution process and on the referendum to be held on 27 October. But, what a disappointment the show was! It inflicted a virtual black eye on the media; arguably, it’s one of the most ignoble moments, in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, for a fledgeling profession.
As the program progressed, it became crystal clear — minute by minute — that the panel of journalists and broadcasters — Beverley Sinclair, George Grant, George Worme and Cheavon Benjamin — was not there in the TV studio to ask questions to solicit meaningful answers about the referendum process or the bills that will be put to a vote in next month’s referendum. Instead, they were determined to power through with what appeared to be a pre-arranged agenda; to practically try and put lawyer Ruggles Ferguson, a member of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC), in his place. In fact, it was undoubtedly an attempted ambush on Ferguson, with him being told at one point that he should be quiet, because “for months we have been listening to CRAC, you need to listen to us now.”
What unfolded from the exchange was journalists and broadcasters, rather than playing the role of purveyors of useful information and acting as the channel for bringing facts and figures and enlightenment to the public, were engaging in a quarrel match and using national TV to ventilate and litigate old personal and political grudges; self-righteously pontificating, seemingly to their constituents of readers, viewers, listeners, surfers and political friends; and using the show as an, “Ah go get it off mi chest monologue, at all cost.”
Caribupdate Weekly received several email comments from Grenadians who viewed the program. One said: “The whole thing sounded like a bunch of jagabats kawaying in the Market Square. What a pity!!!To turn a national debate into party politics and melee.”
Another commented: “I thought that some of them were saying that they know nothing about CRAC; now they are saying that they are tired hearing from CRAC.”
A third email described the TV event as, “a tabanka that was carefully planned and orchestrated. But because it was mischief, nasty and malicious in intent, the whole thing bung away.”
We have no problem with any journalist, any broadcaster, any worker or any professional having a political bias, a political preference, or supporting a political party or leader; it is his or her right to do so; neither do we take umbrage with any media worker who, instead of reporting the news, wishes to elevate himself or herself to become the star of news or to make themselves the news — as appears to be a growing trend in Grenada and elsewhere.
However, there is a time and a place, when the issue is so very serious and important, that the media worker ought not to get his or her role and responsibilities crisscrossed. Unfortunately, in the opinion of this newspaper, our esteem group of journalists and broadcasters allowed the crisscrossing of role and responsibilities to occur on “You Decide,” on 21 September.
Rather than shedding light on the constitution process and the referendum bills, the media personnel brought more darkness to the debate with their absence of objectivity, their lack of in-depth knowledge of the very bills being criticised, and an unadulterated desire to share petty political blows on the altar of constitutional reform.
In the end, the program unfolded as an absolute sham and we want to believe that FLOW CC6 was caught unawares by this farce. Still, FLOW ought to take an intense examination at the use of its brand in such a spectacle, especially with some of the comments uttered on the show that, frankly, bordered on slander and defamation of character.
The program, too, proved not to be one of the finer nights of refereeing for Byron Campbell, the moderator. Mr Campbell seemed stunned at what was transpiring before his very eyes. He would request breaks as a respite, but few allowances were made for timeouts.
All in all, it was a very dishonourable occasion for media in Grenada. The only bright side to the farcical television event was Mr Ferguson. Throughout the program, he remained unbelievably calm, gracious, and professional in his disposition.
Mr Ferguson, a former media worker, was the only shining light when some in the media launched an ambush in the night on him, and when local media suffered a severe black eye.