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LOW EARTH ORBIT – Friendly Media



Friendly Media

Existing in low Earth orbit does indeed enhance perspective. There’s nothing like being far removed from the earthy hungers of the moment: it keeps the values clear, the priorities straight, and the thought processes lucid. It also helps a lot with writing.

On the other hand, being down on the surface, swept up by the madding crowd, really does help to confuse the issue. I believe I’ve written about that phenomenon before, to the effect that standing with your nose pressed right up to a picture blinds the viewer to most of the detail. That limits perspective, warps judgment, and leads to quite inappropriate interpretations of the matter at hand – or at nose, I guess.

Of all the Earth dwellers, bustling about on their so-very-important affairs, Yours Truly pities politicians the most. Not even the most rapacious, unscrupulous bandit of an international pirate – or even an investment banker, for that matter – is required to deal with the internal moral contradictions that go with the territory of being a politician.



That issue has a great deal to do with my own personal commitment, acquired at some cost, to not ever become a member of a political party. A political organization, a civil society pressure group working to maintain a clear, non-partisan perspective on national affairs is another matter entirely. Yours Truly is entirely convinced that the primary weakness in the Antigua & Barbuda body politic is the weakness of civil society: both source and symptom of a lethal national disease.

A necessary counterbalance to the power of the legislative and the executive powers of government, civil society should combine its influence with the weight of the judiciary and the media to ensure that politicians do not run away with a sense of their own importance. Civil society includes such social subsets as religious groups, labor and business organizations, professional and community service associations.

All these institutions represent the legitimate interests of citizens of all ages and at all levels of the socio-economic structure. Civil society includes in its mandate the right and duty to articulate, represent and promote those interests. When civil society fails to perform its essential function all other institutions are weakened. This results in the establishment of a culture of endemic corruption.

A culture of endemic corruption is invariably accompanied and fostered by a condition where the political directorate has acquired excessive influence over the body politic, which incorporates all institutions including the judiciary and the media. This is the pathological condition in which we in Antigua & Barbuda find ourselves, as endemic corruption has emasculated the body politic in its entirety – many even fear that the judiciary itself is at risk of political influence, if not already subject to it.

Antigua & Barbuda is not alone in this unhappy state. Many other small, young, developing, former colonial possessions face the same pathology. The condition is supported by a poisonous combination of negative factors: endemic and widespread poverty; an authoritarian, plantation-based colonial culture; an absence of civic education that facilitates an anti-democratic mindset; a high demand for corruption arising from within the society. African nations are further beset by tribalism, which infects the body politic to the extent that “political parties” are really tribes – thus ensuring that democracy cannot thrive in hostile soil … and the blood continues to flow.

In the Caribbean generally things are not as bad as they are in other parts of the world; but the signs of a developing political disease are writ large for all who care to see. The problem may be that, endemically corrupt and politically emasculated as they are, the institutions that make up the regional body politic may prove unable or unwilling to recognize the danger and react appropriately before it is too late. The spirit of dictatorship is creeping softly up on the CARICOM region, and its stealthy footprint is recorded in the desire of governments to deal with something they quietly refer to as “friendly media”.

A healthy and alert body politic should immediately recognize any quest by a party in power to engage only with a “friendly” media as an impulse toward dictatorship. This is a basic truth for the simple reason that the media and government are not supposed to be friends. Any attempt by a government to unduly influence, intimidate, dominate or otherwise “corral” the media must represent an intention to distort the workings of the body politic to its own partisan advantage. A government that insists on dealing only with “friendly” media is basically up to no good.

This truth is amply demonstrated by our own recent history, here in our twin-island paradise where freedom of the media is still a relatively new thing. The power of the media to transform a political equation is such a pivotal factor in today’s Antigua & Barbuda that the ruling party has struggled mightily to find its feet in the arena of public relations, forever playing catch-up to rapidly-developing public opinion. In this level of ferment we may perceive the possibility of a freer and more democratic country, as freedom of the media continues to shine the light on governmental misbehavior.

The picture is not so encouraging elsewhere in CARICOM although Jamaica, with its very active and diverse political landscape, continues to lead the region in freedom of the press. The media in Guyana has never been free, and it is noteworthy that the People’s Partnership government of Trinidad & Tobago has already established a solid reputation for being repressive toward the media.



The uneasy relationship between the public media and a government that came into office as a popular people’s movement speaks volumes about the contradictions that beset the mind of politicians, as they try to harmonize their own survival interests with the needs of the state. Here in Antigua & Barbuda our recent experiences with our own ruling party have proven the value of an alert and aggressive media that is resistant to government influence.

The various components of the body politic have a duty to work together for the betterment of all the people. The resulting relationship need be neither antagonistic nor overly intimate – “collegiate” might work best – but nevertheless there is grave danger to the health of the body politic when labor, business, religion, the judiciary and the media are all in bed together with the political directorate. When this occurs, outright dictatorship cannot be far behind.



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6 Comments In This Article   

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@ Dr Dredd

#6 Avid Reader » 2013-04-04 13:55

Dr Dredd, your comments bore fruit in the number of thumbs down you received. The people who consume the media really do not take the time to put the brain in gear:
Quote:

ALL of the Media in Antigua is biased. All have an axe to grind. Observer is for UPP; ZDK is for ALP; ABS Radio/TV is for UPP; Caribarena is confused and not sure of their role; NewsPages is neither here nor there.
So all of the so called News is tainted or slanted and people just have to use their brain and figure things out for themselves.
It seems some are offended that you would be so bold as to suggest:


people just have to use their brain and figure things out for themselves.
{/quote]
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Avid Reader

Politics, media & more

#5 JD » 2013-04-04 11:01

So true - couldn't have put it better myself, Mr Sampson!
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JD

With Freedom of the Press come Responsibility

#4 Dr. Dredd » 2013-04-04 09:04

Few realise this. Winston Derrick and Baldwin Spencer told Antiguan to 'Talk as you like'
This cannot be right, especialliy on Talk Radio these days where the callers are annonymous and free to destroy the reputations and lives of those they do not like.
ALL of the Media in Antigua is biased. All have an axe to grind. Observer is for UPP; ZDK is for ALP; ABS Radio/TV is for UPP; Caribarena is confused and not sure of their role; NewsPages is neither here nor there.
So all of the so called News is tainted or slanted and people just have to use their brain and figure things out for themselves.
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Dr. Dredd

i am reminded

#3 tenman » 2013-04-04 08:14

Quote:
The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. Norman Vincent Peale
Some years ago (June 29, 2011), the then deputy PM, Wilmoth Daniel, appeared on ABS TV. On the show he made it clear that he thought of ABS TV as home and made clear his unwillingness to appear on media outlets like Observer Radio. He stated that Observer Radio was trying to destroy him. I am sure Colin can tell stories of other politicians who refuse to give interviews to outlets like Caribarena simply because they only wish to have nice things said about them.

..
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tenman

@ Colin

#2 Jimmy » 2013-04-04 08:08

You are right! When any country suffers from a weak or biased media(s) then the country suffers from poor governance!

The media should all take oaths like Parliamentarians to report the truth - without spin or bias, and allow all persons to have their say.

As it stands now, the media has the country divided! Some see no problem with the Government stealing a power plant - and when the other side gets in the other media will close their eyes to any corruption. To make matters worse, the clergy is no better!
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Jimmy

work together for the betterment of all the people

#1 skyewill » 2013-04-04 06:46

there is grave danger to the health of the body politic when labor, business, religion, the judiciary and the media are all in bed together with the political directorate. When this occurs, outright dictatorship cannot be far behind.

We must determine if thei si what we want. :cry:
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skyewill

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Mr. Colin Sampson

 Mr. Colin Sampson is a Journalist and the host of "The Colin Sampson Show" on Caribantigua TV 

 

 

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