Now that the general election is over, please allow me to reproduce, for the most part, excerpts from an article written in 2007 by then newspaper reporter Clevon Raphael, a seasoned journalist of many years standing.
Raphael’s piece appeared in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper following the general election of November 5, 2007. In essence, he was expressing his disappointment over the way certain sections of the media—particularly radio—dealt with election issues at that time.
Raphael wrote, in part, under the headline, Journalists Who Campaign:
“One of the major disappointments for me during the campaign was the blatant violation of the implicit trust between the electorate and sections of the news media.
“My beef is not with the print media as I honestly believe they properly acquitted themselves, both in their news reporting and in commentaries by various columnists.
“I wish I could have echoed similar sentiments about my colleagues in the electronic arm of the media, with special emphasis on so-called radio talk show hosts.
“I have never seen such a naked, unabashed free-for-all, with brazen falsehoods so unconscionably dished out under the guise of freedom of speech.
“One got the impression they were vying to see who could be the most outrageous and downright biased in discussing the issues associated with the parties and the election.
“Journalists and talk show hosts have an abiding duty and responsibility to be fair and accurate when presenting their views to their listeners, even if they are supportive of a political entity. They should never have been allowed to express their jaundiced views on political parties on the air.
“I have never heard such downright rubbish as that which was being spewed by some of these radio “personalities” who threw away basic journalistic principles in order to please their political masters.
“I do hope they do not take it personally as this article is not meant to be an attack on any single offender. I am concerned only about the negative image of the profession they are projecting to their listening public.
“Imagine that one of them boasted that he has never voted but had the gall to tell his listeners which party to vote for.
“Another described one of the opposition parties in a very venomous tone as “that Laventille-hating party,” without producing a shred of evidence to back up this vacuous claim.
“A host at one of the East Indian-formatted stations was equally guilty of this same nonsense by trying to pit the two major races against each other.
“Whether we are reporters, talk-show hosts, editors, what have you, we owe it to our readers, viewers, and listeners to be always truthful and honest with the product that we deliver to them.
“When these people ought to have been analysing the issues in a clinical and philosophical manner, they were instead serving inane and trite talk most of the time. It made one wonder if they were in fact politicians rather than what they were being paid for.”
My only comment here would be to say that I wish everyone who is involved in radio today could get to experience, somehow, what the ‘glory days’ of radio sounded like and what listeners were provided in those “golden years” as they listened to the professional presentations of the period up to just before the airwaves were opened at the beginning of the 1990s to “whosoever will may come”, thus allowing for much of the tripe that is on the air today.
Vernon A Allick,
Retired radio and television broadcaster