This suppression of the ‘free press’ must end and be replaced

August 17, 2018

Our pitch as we quote: “you don’t need formal censorship to strangle a supply of information.” This is more than relevant to us here in Montserrat, as the success to make The Montserrat Reporter ‘irrelevant’ continues to reign.

This past week the Editor – Caribbean News Now sent the following ‘To our regional media colleagues’:

Many of you will have noted the recent editorial-writing initiative by The Boston Globe that has enlisted scores of newspapers across America proposing a coordinated response under the theme “The dirty war on the free press must end” to President Trump’s escalating “enemy of the people” rhetoric.

“While we may not face the same rhetoric as US media, domestic regional news outlets in particular do face politically motivated attacks, ranging from threats of defamation lawsuits (including criminal libel in some jurisdictions) to economic pressure by the threatened or actual withdrawal of government advertising, all of which leads to self-censorship that is inimical to the concept of a free press enshrined in most if not all national constitutions.”

The Montserrat Reporter over the years have always reported at regional media conferences as noted in the preceding paragraph. But, we have been exposed to politically motivated attacks which came initially from Ministers in the UK Government, but the matter was dealt with and remedial response placed in the hands of local (GoM), for advice and proposals as to how to remedy and change the situation.

This editor observed how our top public servants under the hoodwinked eyes of the political leaders diverted the requests and even the actual attempts by the UKG to deliver as they knew only too well their obligation and responsibilities, especially taking into consideration the Montserrat situation. Gradually and with increasing subtly the lack of interest in providing information (via independent media) aided by the economic pressure as described above, TMR was unable to near adequately meet its self-devoted duties to Montserrat, the ignorance to the detriment of Montserrat’s progress.

That grew worse ten years ago as the political directorate with a public service that didn’t need the encouragement, deliberately set out to kill the only independent media, in even more direct and through legislative actions. (We will mention that through the years TMR remained ahead and was more aware, being the ones who encouraged government to move into the digital area, having been there since 1996.)

We are now at the position after noting the damage being done by starving local media from barely adequately playing its role on Montserrat, for Montserrat and its part of the wider region and the world. We are more than ever in a situation where we can say, that the country through its leaders has become more than guilty of preventing us from carrying out the solemn role of the press, quoting from authority, “to inform the public and serve as watchdogs over our governing bodies — exposing injustices, corruption and deceit before such behavior can destroy democracy.”

Believe it or not they have been led with blinkers, ignoring to their own detriment that, as one newspaper, , concurring with the many other newspapers, “the free press is more important than at any other period in our country’s history.” (See last week’s De Ole Dawg on newspapers – https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-11-a-good-newspaper-is-the-peoples-college/

It cites: “As dutiful citizens trying to stay informed, we are bombarded constantly by false and misleading reports posing as “news” on social media. The increasing inability of the populace to accurately decipher truth from fiction in this steady stream of content that almost seamlessly mixes truth and lies is less about the gullibility of the people and more about the sophistication with which purveyors of disinformation have finely tuned their craft.”

“We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date,” The Globe said in its pitch to fellow newspapers.

The idea as the Globe expected differing views from the editorials, “but the same sentiment: The importance of a free and independent press.”

We were late in meeting the 16th deadline but support Caribbean News Now who had promised to join this effort by publishing an editorial highlighting the different but equally important issues faced by regional media.

This was, “an in invite to regional publications to collaborate this respect,” CNN wrote.

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August 17, 2018

Our pitch as we quote: “you don’t need formal censorship to strangle a supply of information.” This is more than relevant to us here in Montserrat, as the success to make The Montserrat Reporter ‘irrelevant’ continues to reign.

This past week the Editor – Caribbean News Now sent the following ‘To our regional media colleagues’:

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Many of you will have noted the recent editorial-writing initiative by The Boston Globe that has enlisted scores of newspapers across America proposing a coordinated response under the theme “The dirty war on the free press must end” to President Trump’s escalating “enemy of the people” rhetoric.

“While we may not face the same rhetoric as US media, domestic regional news outlets in particular do face politically motivated attacks, ranging from threats of defamation lawsuits (including criminal libel in some jurisdictions) to economic pressure by the threatened or actual withdrawal of government advertising, all of which leads to self-censorship that is inimical to the concept of a free press enshrined in most if not all national constitutions.”

The Montserrat Reporter over the years have always reported at regional media conferences as noted in the preceding paragraph. But, we have been exposed to politically motivated attacks which came initially from Ministers in the UK Government, but the matter was dealt with and remedial response placed in the hands of local (GoM), for advice and proposals as to how to remedy and change the situation.

This editor observed how our top public servants under the hoodwinked eyes of the political leaders diverted the requests and even the actual attempts by the UKG to deliver as they knew only too well their obligation and responsibilities, especially taking into consideration the Montserrat situation. Gradually and with increasing subtly the lack of interest in providing information (via independent media) aided by the economic pressure as described above, TMR was unable to near adequately meet its self-devoted duties to Montserrat, the ignorance to the detriment of Montserrat’s progress.

That grew worse ten years ago as the political directorate with a public service that didn’t need the encouragement, deliberately set out to kill the only independent media, in even more direct and through legislative actions. (We will mention that through the years TMR remained ahead and was more aware, being the ones who encouraged government to move into the digital area, having been there since 1996.)

We are now at the position after noting the damage being done by starving local media from barely adequately playing its role on Montserrat, for Montserrat and its part of the wider region and the world. We are more than ever in a situation where we can say, that the country through its leaders has become more than guilty of preventing us from carrying out the solemn role of the press, quoting from authority, “to inform the public and serve as watchdogs over our governing bodies — exposing injustices, corruption and deceit before such behavior can destroy democracy.”

Believe it or not they have been led with blinkers, ignoring to their own detriment that, as one newspaper, , concurring with the many other newspapers, “the free press is more important than at any other period in our country’s history.” (See last week’s De Ole Dawg on newspapers – https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-11-a-good-newspaper-is-the-peoples-college/

It cites: “As dutiful citizens trying to stay informed, we are bombarded constantly by false and misleading reports posing as “news” on social media. The increasing inability of the populace to accurately decipher truth from fiction in this steady stream of content that almost seamlessly mixes truth and lies is less about the gullibility of the people and more about the sophistication with which purveyors of disinformation have finely tuned their craft.”

“We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date,” The Globe said in its pitch to fellow newspapers.

The idea as the Globe expected differing views from the editorials, “but the same sentiment: The importance of a free and independent press.”

We were late in meeting the 16th deadline but support Caribbean News Now who had promised to join this effort by publishing an editorial highlighting the different but equally important issues faced by regional media.

This was, “an in invite to regional publications to collaborate this respect,” CNN wrote.