Media Matters

Actually, I’m ‘off island’, half-a-world away from home, and two St. Lucians the same place I am, told me Thursday morning that there had been responses by some colleagues to my first article for this column. I laughed and told them: “That’s why I write – to get to people, which is what journalism and communication is all about.”

Asked whether and when I’ll respond, I told them “I won’t even think of responding.” They suggested I check the responses on Facebook, to which I replied in my usual (facetious) way: “I’m not on Facebook.” Thing is, dear reader, big and broad as you may think I am in media matters, I have consistently shied away from the ‘new media’ of the social networking type.

You see, long before Edward Snowden surprised the world by letting us know that Uncle Sam reads all our e-mails, I knew that US Intelligence has long been taking steps to ensure that Uncle Sam sees and knows all things being said by everyone everywhere, whether it’s his business or not.

Before Snowden there was Julian Assange and Wikileaks, US Army Corporal Bradley Manning and many others before them, who said the same thing in different ways over the decades. Thing is, Uncle Sam knows so much about me that I don’t know about myself – like how I used to be detained by Immigration at all US airports I landed at for the past 15 years, with no reason given, until an officer in-the-know quietly told me it was “because a terrorist has your name…”

They know I’m not the guy using my name, but they tie me with the ropes each time anyway. Another officer more recently assured me that “we just have to keep holding on to you each time, just so that the false guy doesn’t get through.” I asked what recourse was open to me to clear my name and the officer said without blinking an eye: “The only way you can get out of this is to change your name…”

See what I mean?

But now, back to last week’s first article here…

The moment I saw the first article with my name wrapped in a Fire Engine Red flag, I felt like someone wanted to salt and season me as though I was delivering freshly-wrapped stale fish, with old wine in new bottles. I’m no longer Kenny Anthony’s Press Secretary and I don’t write this column with my friend Kenny in mind. Instead, I offered to do this column because I feel the media debate here is most lacking of any serious content.

I read, listen to and watch colleagues pontificate, gesticulate and otherwise engage in lesser versions of verbal and literal non-intellectual masturbation as they try to say what they think people want to hear them say or write what they feel people want them to write.

I hardly hear or see anything to convince me that there are any media standards being taught or observed here. I don’t hear, see or read anything that would encourage young persons seeking a career – or even a job – to want to try out journalism. Like the politicians we pin-prick all the time, we drive more young people away from journalism than we attract.

I hear local reporters referring to persons by titles that sound like they were pulled out of an academic rabbit’s hat, erroneously equating them with serious academics who spent decades earning similar titles. Thing is that those who have earned these titles hardly affix the lofty labels to their names, humbly preferring the lesser titles, not caring to be considered too big for the small man to want to connect with them.

But for now, I’ll leave that for another show – er, excuse me, I mean for a later edition of this column…

Naturally, I expect responses to my articles – otherwise I will feel like I’ve wasted my time and didn’t connect or communicate well. I welcome all responses and I will not respond through a blog because I still haven’t been convinced I need one; I certainly don’t intend to create unending spools of writing thread by responding to everything any and every person writes or says about what I wrote in the first place.

More than anything else, what I want to do with this column is put the issues on the media table and to encourage others to respond. Every single response is an acknowledgement that I’ve connected – which is my original and ultimate objective, no matter what. So I will not in any way discourage responses by responding to them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying ‘I’ll never respond’, because there will always be those times when a response is so wrong and off-target that it just has to be put right and on track. If and when such occasions arise, I will first try to determine whether the action was deliberately or mistakenly the result of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation – and then I’ll decide whether it’s worth a response.

All I’ll say to my critics – visible and invisible – is that when you’re coming at me, write and talk carefully, because I come from the old school that taught us that there’s no book that can’t be reduced to a chapter, no chapter than can’t be reduced to a paragraph and no paragraph that can’t be reduced to a sentence. I can be long-winded like a Hurricane from Hell — but I can also tell you all what I want to say in just two words.

So, to all my media colleagues – friends and critics alike – I say (like Marvin Gaye): Let’s get it on; and let’s keep on getting-it-on!

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