Media Freedom Comes With Great Responsibility

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Da Wutless media operating like "JUNGALISS-ES"!
Da Wutless media operating like “JUNGALISS-ES”!

By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press

A free press is a fundamental human right and not a privilege granted by Governments and ruling bodies. The current Government, has given the media fraternity great latitude to exercise their right to unimpeded information dissemination. However, with every human right enshrined in the laws of the land comes concurrent responsibility and adherence to the tenets of journalism, with truth being a prevailing factor, and this is mandatory for every media operative to practise in order to sustain and retain individual credibility and the credibility of his/her media house.

The press is a powerful medium that can help to shape and transform society. The current administration has therefore allowed great leverage for media houses to operate at will, which, sadly, has been overwhelmingly abused by media hostile to the Government. Instead of information dissemination, they instead peddle misinformation, distortion of facts, and even, at times, outright lies.

The industry has been commercialised and degraded to such an extent that it has become a tool to exact revenge on perceived enemies and to destroy the character and credibility of entrepreneurs and their businesses and/or products for rival business houses. The advertising dollar is king and dictates the direction of the moral compass of some private media houses, to the extent that fiction has become fact in the psyche of the nation in many instances – so powerful a tool is the free press; and so morally depraved is most of the private media in The Bahamas.

In some other societies, journalists are persecuted, and even killed, for defending the truth; but defending the truth seems to be an alien concept for some media operatives who are abusing the freedoms that have been conferred on them. They override every tenet of principled journalism.

The credibility of the press is linked to its commitment to truth, to the pursuit of accuracy, fairness and objectivity and to the clear distinction between news and advertising. The attainment of these goals and the respect for ethical and professional values may not be imposed. These are the exclusive responsibility of journalists and the media. In a free society, it is public opinion that rewards or punishes.

In The Bahamian landscape, the Government has fully endorsed and kept faith with these principles, but has had to contend with a hostile private media that do not see it incumbent upon their journalistic ethics to report the news as it unfolds – fairly and accurately.

With every right in a democracy comes requisite responsibilities; but the irresponsibility displayed in most media operations in The Bahamas has generated at times tragic consequences in our country and caused this country much grief and developmental retrogression.

The most recent case of irresponsible, hateful, untruthful and biased journalism, is that practised by the editor of one of the morning tabloids on the issue of certain equipment at the Met office allegedly, not being operable during the recent visit to our shores by Hurricane Joaquin.

It has become patently clear that the lady editor is on a personal mission to destroy the legacy of PM Christie and the PLP, and she will stoop to any level to achieve this. She obviously has the backing of the Caucasian owners of her tabloid and the white merchant class who are hell bent on replacing Dr. Minnis as leader of “their” party.

At first, I was somewhat annoyed at the stuff I had read on social media about the personal behavior of the lady editor, as my personal view, under normal happenings, is that one ought to debate the message not the messenger. But you know what, when you say all kinds of untruthful things about people, and consistently seek to discredit, denigrate and ridicule them, oftentimes in very personal ways, then, game on. To the best of my knowledge, I know of no special reason why she could possibly believe that she could hit people and their family members and always expect them to turn the other cheek. To do so, amounts to arrogance that I find suffocating. On occasions, when my wife use to ‘cuss’ me out for what she perceived as wrongdoings on my part, my response was always: “Woman you suppose to be a Christian! Her retort was always: :God’s spirit don’t dwell in man all the time…”

My dear, when you live in a glass house, you ought not to throw stones!

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