Happy New Year! I am starting this new 12 week series today and will revert to the regular Thursdays after this. I write at a time when calypso is in the air and King Carnival is about to make its entry once more and there will be, ‘ba yo babalen Emmanuel’ songs and just for de rum and de party madness on the streets. It is also a time when the media workers are under scrutiny even under attack with no MWAD to stand in the breach.
The Media Workers Association of Dominica is remote and seemingly removed when it should be present and alive as Lennox Linton stands alone against a government whose main agent is alleged to have threatened in writing to f… him.
People may ask why is it that journalists and reporters just like firefighters rush toward a blazing critical situation when everybody else is running away and some will answer, “Its love of the profession that drives them.” I have a simple answer in one word-courage. Journalist have families too and would love to sit at home safe, watching TV and playing with their children and saying silly things to their companions just like you do but what propels them-the real ones- is the burning desire to unearth truth even if they get burnt in the process of finding it.
The recent invasion by eight police officers of the home of journalist and talk show host Lennox Linton under a search warrant supposedly to find documents he should not have had is usually the opening salvo in the process of intimidation and those who believe it will end there can dream on. For those who think that it is not their business and this can never happen to them are thinking like born again babies. History has shown that it always begins legally and even courteously to avoid public indignation but over time breaks down and gets more purposeful and may even lead to a Haitian like “ton ton maocoute” activity consuming all who dare to fall outside the line.
In this information age the Internet has totally changed the usage and also the sharing of information in a dramatic way. The access to various kinds of information including music and images is a finger drop away. WWW no longer only stands for Wine, Women and Woe but for World Wide Web. Anybody can order or book stuff from anywhere in the world from the comfort of home, based on product information posted on the Internet. Today it’s all about passwords and if you forget your sacred password, you are asked to give information about your mother’s maiden name or your pet’s name so as to retrieve your password.
The information most of us crave however is greatly denied. We want to know what our future in our island home may look like. When we hear of suppression of information in particular the MOU with China we apprehensively wonder “what it is they are so keen to hide?”. The press is set up to give information to the public, which is accurate and trustworthy, without prejudice or bias to any political party or other institution. The press is however limited by the absence of a Freedom of Information Act.
Such an Act would “provide a right of reasonable access to information under the control of institutions under the principle that information should be available to the public.” Much too often we are forced to speculate as to the truth of the matter because one or other official is playing hide and seek with-the truth of the matter. A nation without information is like, “a calypso without lyrics,” without its soul intact, and like an unregulated ticking bomb may suddenly explode.
What is the real story of the failed multi million-dollar Layou River Hotel project after we secured majority ownership, or the failed multi million-dollar Stock Farm Stadium project? What is the true story of the villas and who owns them, the garbage bins money scandal and how this over costing escaped the attention of those responsible for securing and monitoring our treasury? We struggle with our leaders to know what gives or gets or goes and are at moments of strife given gifts to “make us feel nice.” The public is becoming increasingly restless over the rumours that go back and forth about this or that scandal on all sides.
Our political leaders obviously believe and take comfort that the people of Dominica have ‘memoire poule’ and a few trinkets here and there will again do the trick. It is therefore annoying and frustrating to the leaders to have a Lennox Linton with his formidable ability to ferret out and shine the light on things that they hoped would go out under the cover of darkness and it is no wonder that they may wish fervently to f… him. I must admit that I mostly respect the journalists that willingly and knowingly walk into danger to find or report a story. It shows a great deal of courage and bravery, above all knowing that they might even die just because they are telling the truth.
However, when all is said and done, the one quality that I respect the most in any journalist is honesty and the motivation to be frank and open about any subject or topic, no matter what it may be. As a country still with a great deal of freedom, we take this for granted but when good things are taken lightly they soon fly away. Support of Linton is not therefore agreement with what he says but a national desire to show any leadership that attempting to silence the media in whole or in part will find serious disapproval from we the people now or at the next elections.
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