I can’t say that I held any particular brief for the bashing the media took last week from politicians, political apologists and hacks alike. Truth be told, in many cases, the heap of burning coals thrown the way of the media last week, was quite deserving. Even though if you have no way of “woozeying your own bab” you shouldn’t throw hot coals at others.
But what has really irked me recently during the whole media brouhaha, is the interchangeable manner in which the terms “the media,” “media workers,” “journalists” and “reporters” are used.
Last time I checked, meaning yesterday, a journalist was defined as: “a person who writes for newspapers or magazines or prepares news to be broadcast on radio or television.
A “reporter” from everything I know, is also a journalist who researches, writes and reports information and prepares reports.
A “media worker” on the other hand is anyone working within a media establishment (radio, TV, newspaper, magazine and so on). In essence, the janitor, receptionist, typesetters, graphic artists, accountants, radio announcers, news presenters and so on are all media workers.
But to hear it from platforms and coloured pulpits, all of the above are now sworn enemies of the state. That is, if you believe those trained in guerilla warfare and constitutional matters and the law as well as the paid consultants and propagandists.
So in essence, the Castries market noise-makers on radio straining their laryngitis, the DJs and those “gossiping” on radio all seem to be journalist nowadays. And even though his very own bosses slapped him with a label “for entertainment purposes only,” Sam Flood falls in the above category.
So now I am in a quandary. That is, if I were to be swayed by the hype, and even though one red consultant last week labeled me a sworn enemy of highly paid consultants. I would rather like to think of myself as a journalist always seeking answers. And the fact that government after government have failed to explain many of their decisions or actions to the people, will continue to be my fodder. So whether the issue is highly paid consultants, ALBA, expensive feting on Labour Day by government officials at the expense of tax payers, it is my business not only as a citizen but also a journalist. I will continue to seek answers and write without compromise. Still, I am open to sitting and slurping down a cup of tea with any of the consultants. By the way, by what yardstick or qualifications are consultants measured here? And by the same token, who exactly is a journalist?
The Atlantic Wire last week ran an interesting article entitled Terrorists and Julian Assange Aren’t Considered Journalists by the Senate.
“Assuming approval by the full Senate and the House (which one should never, ever assume), here is who the federal government will consider a journalist: Someone who works for or is an agent of a news-distributing entity, or has worked for such a place recently,” wrote the Wire. The article went on to point out that this was a very brief summary of the compromise definition passed on Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It noted; “the definition is part of the Senate’s media shield law, a bill that would provide certain federal protections to journalists in the course of their duty.”
Under this protection act a covered journalist will be an employee, independent contractor or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information. The individual would have been employed for one year within the last twenty or three months within the last five years.
According to the Wire, it would apply to student journalists, editors or someone with a considerable amount of freelance work in the last five years.
But there are exceptions. Terrorists and foreign agents are exempt and it does not include any person or entity whose principal function, as demonstrated by the totality of such person or entity’s work, is to publish primary source documents that have been disclosed to such person or entity without authorization. “This shall be hereafter known as the Assange clause,” says the Wire.
Therefore, is the Media Workers Association waiting on Government to legislate a definition of “journalist?” Or will they put aside the Sabbath and come up with a clever one on their own? From all that we have heard and read, we have to wonder as well whether the government is seeking advice from ALBA on how to set up state-owned and party-owned media? Which in any event will be one and the same. And will we also see the reemergence of 361 clothed in South American clothes?
Last I checked I was still a journalist and will continue to write and ask questions.