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Having read a recent article and press release concerning the launch of the GoBrave media watch group, I am motivated to contribute some comments regarding the media in Saint Lucia and the region generally.
First of all, though, turning negative experiences into a positive one is commendable; however, on this occasion it takes the heart of a champion to devote time and resources to bring some sense of responsibility, integrity and ethics to Caribbean media.
Mainstream media in the Caribbean is at a critical juncture. Social media has broadened the art form and the need likewise to fact-check accuracy, fairness and balance. Simultaneously, reflecting diversity is a critical component to embrace shared elements affecting the region.
Particularly, when “prior attempts to oppress and intimidate the local media … did not work. As such, no amount of calculated attempts to instill fear in opponents with the intent to silence voices and derail strongholds of freedom, or to disregard the rights of freedom of expression guaranteed under the constitution of Saint Lucia, or even to show signs of manipulating the democratic process should be tolerated by any government or group of persons.”
Additionally, this becomes more threatening when information dissemination is suppressed, stifled and controlled by corrupt regimes, who seek to control networks and information dissemination that hardly pass the test of accuracy, transparency and accountability.
“But, if there was any doubt why the backdoor formation of the National Broadcasting Network (NBN) by the government of Saint Lucia, then there must be even more vigilance and a rapid response to debunk fallacies” that seek to support authoritarian regimes that are not transparent and accountable to the people and does not seem to provide for protection of human rights, freedom, liberty and free market economics.
At the same time, Saint Lucians have watched and listened to efforts to intimidate and instill fear in specific media by threats of law suits referencing information that did not originate from any media house or journalist in Saint Lucia, meanwhile not attempting to approach the source.
In instances where “It appears that the [St Lucia Labour Party] SLP administration has developed a pattern of intimidation to gain total control of the media” the International Press Institute (IPI) has had cause for concern and a previous US ambassador to the region once referred to threats of this nature as “a standard political bully tactic”.
The value of democracy depends on the full protection of people’s rights and liberty, advocating for transparency and greater accountability to address issues of corruption, more so, in light of US action in the region.
It takes courage and tenacity to expose corrupt and biased reporting that manipulates facts and statements but, knowing the mindset that exists, the formation of #GoBrave is admirable. And I encourage all concerned to participate, and reduce the excuses to turn a blind eye to the seeds of corruption, political and economic systems that stifle debate, dissent, diversity and democracy.
Civil society has a versatile platform to facilitate advocacy and transparency, through oversight that calls to account the public good to reach full economic and social potential.
A single stand of straw cannot sweep dust, but a bundle of straw can. – Filipino proverb.
While others have idealistic notions as silent observers, #GoBrave has undertaken the challenge to identify the issues, share common values, diversity and shape sentiments that are pragmatic.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) www.lpmstlucia.com critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at [email protected]