Media Matters: Glasshouse of Babel?

Who is an Editor? And who is a Talk Show Host? And what does it take to be either?

In Saint Lucia, it all depends on who’s asking. And who’s answering. That’s the inescapable conclusion you’d arrive at – that is, if you only knew what yardstick some (in the media) use to measure who qualify as editors or talk show hosts.

Traditionally, to qualify, you simply had to be a host (or co-host) of a show, or an editor of a newspaper, radio or TV news department. But now things have changed. We have excessive ‘online’ news media today and the Internet has become the next new world to never conquer. The definitions of who is what in the media have also changed—and drastically too.

Today, some here choose to personally decide just who is what—and who is fit to share in a glasshouse debate on issues in the news or affecting the media. Suddenly, selective yardsticks are being applied to different talk show hosts and editors, us being graded according to the dislikes in the eyes of the beholder.

By one local yardstick, anyone doing the job but wearing a red or yellow shirt cannot be described by his or her permanent or temporary or part-time job description, regardless. And some who fit the selectively applicable yardstick aren’t even measured, far less graded. And you won’t even get invited into the glasshouse if you ever happen to have a quarrel with the gatekeeper. Or you can even get thrown out. And nary a quiver thereafter…

Of course, not all in the glasshouse shower below Babel. Some ask simple questions like why membership (of this particular press club) seems to be so exclusively exclusive. But even the simplest of questions may not be responded to—depending on the question. And who’s asking.

Strangely, some of the more exclusive cardholders and gatekeepers at the (sometimes) mutual admiration club talk like they actually believe the pen is mightier as a sword than as a pen.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Like a fellow wordsmith of yore usually warns today’s online hookers and lookers too quick to read what he didn’t write (or who heard words never uttered): Don’t understand me too quickly.

I’m not at all holier than any of the fellow sinners in the glasshouse atop the hill. But I find it difficult to want to kneel in the same confessional booth with all.

After all, we all know there are Talk Show Hosts and talk show hosts, Presenters and presenters, Editors and editors. Not all are (and can ever be) the same. But, after all, each has an audience—a viewership, a listenership, a readership—and/or an online following, no matter the size.

Communication with an audience is the common denominator here. That underlying factor, you would think, is what makes each practitioner who and/or what he or she is. Besides, each is doing it as a job, whether permanent or part-time, free or freelance.

I used to think I knew what it took to qualify to be called, regarded or treated as a Talk Show Host or Editor. (I actually think I’m both.) But it would seem (to me) that, never mind it’s made of pure glass, some of the more pristine beings therein appear to be bent on stoning some of those locked out—and from inside, at that. Now, that doesn’t sound (to me) like a good idea. But then, since when have good ideas sounded good?

All of which reminds me of a real story, in a very different Caribbean country, about a different type of glasshousing…

A popular TV media baron—who thought he could turn viewers into votes— entered the political fray as a presidential candidate. He met the local press ahead of an upcoming national poll and (among other things) he promised:“My Cabinet will be fully transparent.” A reporter dutifully asked, “How can we be sure of that?” To which the man who wanted to be President of the Republic replied, “Because I’ll build it with pure glass!”

Believe it or not, neither the reporter nor the politician, were stoned!

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