Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We Live In Interesting Times: Threats To The Media

The lead in today’s Sunday Sun sounds very disturbing. It opens:

“EDITOR OF THE SUNDAY SUN, Carol Martindale, yesterday received the threat “to do the right thing” or have her reputation destroyed.

The threat came from Hartley Henry, senior political advisor to Prime Minister David Thompson.”

The report goes on that the threat was:

"to warn her that the results of the poll conducted for the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and released yesterday get the same Front Page treatment as polls done on behalf of this newspaper.

Henry expressed annoyance with the publication of the past several SUNDAY SUN editions, charging they were geared towards publicising and enhancing the image of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley"

This is the most extraordinary story that has crossed my eyes during my time in Barbados. There is either naivete, foolhardiness, or worse at play. Surely, everyone knows that the media usually tape record calls? I got a call from the Nation last week and the Editor was at pains to assure me that we were not being recorded. But, I wont speculate more. I will just put a context.

I recall just a week or so ago, hearing on 'Brass Tacks' a caller (seemingly BLP connected–a name was mentioned on air) complaining strongly to Tony Marshall that Ms. Mottley was NOT getting any/enough coverage on VOB radio. Can these two situations both be correct?

Finally, I would think that most people would think that anyone linked directly to the PM (or other high ranking person) takes the PM’s (or said person’s) image up or down with him/her. That’s not rocket science. Look back at President Obama’s problems with Cabinet members he selected and what happened a their personal problems surfaced.

I imagine that along with the question "What on Earth is going on?" will come "Why on Earth does the PM's political strategist think such actions are necessary?" Those of us outside politics cannot easily understand what the level of political stakes is.


Heaven said...

While I do not agree with Mr.Henry's actions, the Nation newspaper is truly biased. What about those instances when the former PM threatened not only media but workers in the private sector? No one could openly disagree with the previous administration without suffering the consequences.

Anonjam said...

From what I understand, Politicians always call, curse and complain to newspaper editors for negative stories brought about them.

However the difference this time seems to be that the person called and theratened to tarnish the reputation of the editor if she did not publish a particular story in a particular way.

That action seems to be a bit more egregious.

Heaven said...

I have no respect for anyone at this newspaper because they kept a known rapist on staff for years until a young lady and her family decided to go to the police.He sexually harassed staff members especially young girls and management did nothing to stop him. Under the BLP NO ONE dared utter a word about being threatened by any Minister. It says a lot when the Editor in Chief and the other members of staff are close friends with the Leader of the Opposition.

Dennis Jones said...

Heaven, saying the Nation is biased is not really an issue. Most newspapers are biased. What we can ask is why previous instances were not reported. Was it because of the person and position? You mention a politician. That gives a slightly different scenario. Mr. Hartley is not an elected official. There may be some differences to consider.

Books on press freedom in Barbados paint an ugly picture, but for me it is reported history and I take it under advisement and will ask for views from those who lived through the past 20+ years.

Regarding the rapist. My recollection was that someone had been indicted, so the matter is with the courts.

The process says a lot about a lot. Not just about one thing.

Being close friends with someone should not be a crime. In many countries, ties are also close, if not closer.

You have to ask if the reported incidents from the weekend have any real justification.

Dennis Jones said...

Anonjam, the PM has called for more disclosure from those who were present. I have not read of or heard a denial, or another version from the alleged caller, either.

Anonymous said...

But did the Nation ask for the other version? The PM said they published the story without asking. What does that tell you?

Dennis Jones said...

Some wonder if the Nation asked for another version. One could say they were one of the parties, and they have corroborated their side. The 'other' side for them is presumably Mr. Hartley's.

To "anonymous". A title please.

Bimbo said...

Im having trouble understanding how to give myself a name. Its not accepting it. But I don't see how the Nation has corroborated. Maria Bradshaw's evidence would be hearsay. Can hearsay corroborate? Not according to my law books.

Dennis Jones said...

Bimbo, why hearsay? Modern telephone equipment allows more than two people to be party to a conversation, eg, through broadcasting/speaker phone. So, Ms. Bradshaw could easily be a direct party (maybe unknown to Mr. Henry). She is not reporting what someone told her (hearsay), but what she heard herself.