Negative Reporting: Afri-centric Analysis

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
March 31, 2013

Dr. Kwame NantambuWithin recent times, the public domain has been over-flooded with a plethora of accusatory statements by some among the leadership of the People’s Partnership (PP) government.

Indeed, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has gone so far to adamantly/emphatically inform the nation that “rouge elements” exist in the media. And not to be outdone, National Security Minister Jack Warner has also publicly scoffed at “negative things” been revered in news reporting.

From an Afri-centric perspective, the leadership of the PP government needs to clearly understand that democracy is not a one-way street. Democracy has always been a two-way street.

The leadership needs to understand that in a democracy, the role of the media is not to function as the public relations mechanism or mouth piece of neither the ruling government nor the loyal opposition. The media does not take a pro or con position on any public issue. The media always takes a neutral position, albeit to inform the general public. The media only reports; it does not analyze or give an opinion. That’s the job/role of political pundits/analysts/columnists.

The leadership of the PP government must realize that the media represents the voice of We the People in any democracy.

And in this regard, it is very interesting to recall the Prime Minister’s acerbic accusation of “rogue elements” in the media, but conversely, when the media even vaguely hints at putative “rogue elements” as in ministers in PP government, suddenly, the media is anti-government.

The PP government just cannot have it both ways, period. If the leadership cannot stand the democratic media heat, then, it should get out of the political kitchen… plain and simple. The media must do its job, by any and all means necessary in this democracy.

This writer must hasten to remind the leadership of the PP government about the 1972 “Watergate scandal” in the United States. At that time, then President Richard M. Nixon publicly criticized/accused The Washington Post newspaper for the “negative things” its reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were publishing that apparently sought to contradict his public assertion: “I am not a crook.”

In the long-run, it was this media news reporting/expose that was the catalyst to bring down President Nixon; he was the first president in US history to resign while in office on 9 August 1974. The media, therefore, played its vital, neutral and responsible role in America’s democracy.

In terms of “negative things”, Minister Jack Warner needs to understand that in the media-newspaper business, negativity sells. This is what enables this business to maximize profit, period. The PP government must face the stark reality that sensationalism is synonymous with media news reporting worldwide — it goes with the territory.

By way of Afri-centric elucidation, when he attempted to boost the rating/popularity (money-making aspect) of his TV programme “Crime Watch”, host Ian Alleyne did not air the positive video of a thirteen year-old girl neatly dressed and receiving her first Holy Communion. He did not air the positive video of an innocent, happy couple taking their marriage vows after the pastor said: “You may kiss the bride.”

On the contrary, Ian Alleyne resorted to “negative things.” Whether that decision was immoral and/or illegal is totally immaterial and irrelevant to this discussion, period. It is just par-for-the-course in the beast called the media business. “Negative things” in the media attract additional viewers, readers and advertisers… it’s all about making money. The media is a capitalist business… reporting is the name, maximizing profit is the game.

In addition, it is quite apropos to remind minister Warner that Hiomla Daniama, the lead actor in the drama series “Jacob’s Cross” that airs on The Africa Channel (Cable TV # 54) once stated in an interview that a certain country in Europe refused to air the series because “a positive visual” of Afrika is presented. Mr. Dandala also indicated that he was told by the European executives that the positive images of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa that are shown in the series do not really exist in Afrika, period.

Positive images just do not work in the media business, Mr. Warner, if any entity wants to survive and make money— it is just that plain and simple.

On the contrary, if “Jacob’s Cross” were to present “negative things” about countries in Afrika, then and only then, would these European businessmen/capitalists in the media have rushed to air the series.

Truth Be Told: As the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, once opined in 1800, “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.”

In the final analysis, the leadership of the PP government must understand that the “media can play a positive role in democracy only if there is an enabling environment that allows them to do so.” In addition, it is vital that the media must also be “free from intervention of media owners and the State (government)”.

A healthy “democracy is impossible without a free press” – regardless and irrespective of the genre of its news reporting.

Shem Hotep (“I go in peace”)

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecture at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

11 thoughts on “Negative Reporting: Afri-centric Analysis”

  1. I think what the PM meant was that there are certain media houses that use the newspaper to consistently attack the government. For instance in one newspaper today there are two former PNM ministers demanding that Warner resign. Well what would anyone expect from the PNM former ministers, but this is not the first time, this is a daily event by that particular media house. MSJ leader, Rowley Leader of the Opposition along with other commentators continue to be given space to demand Warner resign. No one who supports him as a minister is given space to voice their opinion on Warner a man who won his seat by the most amount of votes in the history of TnT elections. A politician who earns a great deal of respect by his constituents. But why the constant attack on Warner? He is no longer in FIFA an organisation that everyone knows function to the beat of their own drum. The fact remains that he has not been charged with anything. So why demand his resignation?

    This is the type of media bias that irritates politicians. It is not specific to any government but is common to all government. Eric denied newsprint, Chambers called a weekly “that dirty rag”, Panday sought to introduce the “green paper”, Manning lashed out at them…the list goes on. Politicians would like their achievements to be recognized. Unfortunately that may not be the best news story. After all a politician son assisting the FBI sounds a lot more entertaining.


    Negative reporting, huh? I get it , so in essence , journalists/ reporters , should be held ,to a different standard ,than intellectuals , with direct influence on impressionable minds, and or former students, who might have evolved into policy wonks/ political handlers , for clueless leaders , hmmm?
    Sorry Doc ,it ain’t personal ,but ‘me think , you’ll agree with folks on the streets, when they say,’you have ‘burned your ghetto card,’and as such,I ain’t taking your comments on the pertinent issues of the day ,as they applies to beat down of Afrikan folks, too serious.Sorry , I take that back, media freedoms.
    As you can see from the link above , I did me a bit of google searching, only to find that you share de exact viewpoint as Uncle Ryan , that Soca music is the prime reasons , as to why our underachieving country T&T , remain’s a backward, crime ridden , social cesspool.
    For de record, Professor Emeritus /Uncle Ryan is , what ,104,and probably has his eye on some ,soon to be open , T&T,cross tribal Commission Chair , in between another book, and or desertation supervision, for a UWI bloke or two.
    Well, he might be forgiven , added to the fact that he can be also considered, a Euro jacket and tie -in de Eric Williams mole, that Uncle Shah complained , so vehemntly about recently- but not you.
    Last I Checked you were pushing the style of a neo radical ,intellectual activist ,concerned about poor basic fundamental Human rights, creating equal playing field justice, and better yet- keeping dem mainly neo tribal , misguided, unmentionable political bozos , honest, Si?
    Then maybe , I am the idiot , for not spending a few more Yankee dollars studying to get myself a Phd as well,for then I would have been able to dig deeper beyond my scratch de surface, sub par CUNY leanings to appreciate correlations between music , and crime , huh?
    Let me guess, Rap music was not a reaction by American ,inner city kids ,to social issues they experience ,and saw reflected ,in society,but they too cause more , fatherless Afrikan folks ,to saturate that Eurocentric , racist Prison Industrial Complex ,so many have complained about.
    It encouraged gang bangers, teenage pregnancies, and high school drop outs,hopelessness, and dehumanizing poverty ,many Afrikan families , not named Obama , and Mechelle Robinson , endured daily,yes?
    Even I myself , am getting a bit tired of beating up this government uncle Kwame, as they often remind me more of that young , naive ,pimple face kid , with the buck teeth, whose papa,gave him the keys for the family car ,to go on his first date , with- of all people -prettiest girl I the school. This girl , I should add , only decided to go out him , because she was jealous with her former boyfriend -a football stud,who had his eye one her rival.
    They’ll get it right, I am certain , maybe midway into the second , Kamla led ,PP term of office. Maybe more energy should be expended towards de Rotw… Well, .. You get my drift, hmmm? ‘Dey say,’ and Opposition , is just that , a government in waiting.’
    Aaahh, the Easter night is young, and I like most Tribis , have places to explore.
    For de record,I prefer me my Latino music folks! I wonder what Uncle Gabriel Garcia Marquez ,have to say about that, and it’s impact on his Society?
    Enough Neal!

  3. PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s attempts to “duck and hide” on the issue of a reported FBI corruption probe into “Minister of National Security Jack Warner shows to this country and the international community “that she cannot touch (him)”, said Movement for Social for Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah. He noted that Warner himself had said he was not going anywhere and the matter shall pass like the Flying Squad issue.Abdulah said, however, the MSJ will not allow this issue, the Flying Squad or Section 34 “to pass”.The MSJ called on Warner to be removed as National Security Minister, as he cannot function in the position and interface with his US counterparts with the allegation of the probe.” Express.

    This is a Prime example of negative reporting. Who exactly is Abdullah? Is he the Opposition Leader, he certainly talk like he is. Did the Movement for Social Jokers win a seat or have any representation in Parliament either in Opposition or in government? Who exactly is Abdullah representing, that he keeps making these statements in both major newspapers that continue to give this moron constant credibility and exposure. The OWTU is bleeding this nation monetarily by there constant withdrawal of service from Petrotrin. Close to a billion dollars have been loss by these belligerent union posturing.

    Yet Abdullah seems to defecate on Warner at every opportunity. When will the editorial board on these newspapers stop giving these radicals such credibility. Their plan do destabilizing the nation (that is their plan) is not good for the nation’s economy. Funny MSJ is silent on demanding Calder Hart be brought to justice.

  4. The US is under no obligation to share any details regarding their investigation of Jack Warner.
    The question is very simple, “Is the Minister under investigation in the FIFA scandal?”
    If the answer is in the affirmative, Jack Warner should step down or be fired until he is cleared.

  5. Can’t argue with your view that the US is not obligated o tell us squat about which jail they are planning to send Uncle Jack to , once they get all the evidence to arrest/ convict him, but here is the clincher mi amigo – they would do so willingly ,to folks they consider friends , Si?
    In the legal / law enforcement Anti criminal world , some refer to it as quid pro quo.
    This nfortunate dvelopment , by a frindly ally ,just maybe an indication of the precarious state of affairs T&T has found itself in , with of all people – Uncle Barrack, leader ,of the regional/ global hegemon.
    Perhaps T-Man , it is time Ish , and Steve ,take their rightful place next to , a cell of famous ,Wall Street bandit ,Bernie Madoff. Time for your UNC dominant,PP , head honchos, to quit playing hardball, and hand over these two guys. It ain’t, worth it T- Man. Let it go, and as expected they would scream like sex starved wolves , to get some kind of deal , and so what, of it means , a sudden election , forced on by a vote of no confidence- because Tom , dick , and bridgelal got exposed. So be it!
    To you ,e Queen maker , in Uncle Jack , might be conveniently expendable ,and so should be fired , by Her Majestick ,Queen K,and that’s ok. However, for de record, Auntie K ,did not -via her splenderous , party ,and National electoral victories-destroy the political careers , of dem two ,competing Nepotestic kings , in Basdeo , and Manning, because she was politically naive. No ,no Sareee!
    There are those who think that an American President is the most powerful leader in the world.Well that may be true in theory, but Uncle Obama , and the other 47 president before could not even decide what color jockstrap to wear on any given day, much less name a judge, or nominate some cabinet official without kowtowing to thousands ,in and out of his party, opposition, and nation as a whole.
    As for that British Westminister System we inherited T-Man? Now that’s power! One must however be very judicious , when in a position to flex one’s muscles , particularly if part of an alliance , or coalition government.
    If you doubt me on this score,then just ask ANR Robinson of NAR fame . That 2 seated ,Tobago bozo , turned Presidnt , ain’t know what spirit lash hit him , once he decided to incur the wrath of Indo Trini Nation, all because he had de audacity to put Basdeo Panday, Kelvin RAmnath, and Trevor Sudama , in their place – by showing dem who was really ‘first amongst equal.’
    Let’s just say , T- Man, our Auntie K , ain’t falling into that trap. She knows-and history would back her up -Uncle Jack , just like Papa Basdeo , might be self serving, polarizing figures, and worst yet ,crook in many eyes , but they are likewise adored by numerous folks who can be considered friends of her party ,as well as admired , by several foes.
    You just cannot publicly humiliate people heroes , and live to tell the tale T- Man.
    Tell you what T- Man , there is something that you ,and I ,are fully aware of , but pretend otherwise , because it suits our cyber jousting purposes, and here it is :- People , across all races, class, ethnic groups , region, and cultures ,trive on respect, and so , generally despise others, who either humiliate them , or seek to do so , to their cherished heroes.
    Surprise , surprise , even terrorist , it is felt ,have indulged in their barbaric acts , because they felt some level of direct ,or indirect ,humiliation.

    Don’t take my word for it .Experts are now coming around to this fact.Ain’t care if proponents , are from Karachi, Southern Sudan, Somalia, Mumbai, Karachi, Bogata Columbia, South Side Chicago, Lavantille , Beetham,Mt Pleasant Tobago, Couva , Never Dirty Movant , Jalalabad Afghanistan, or Caroni.

    This of course speaks clearly to th bigger point the Professor T was alluding to.
    A Lil bit of respect and dignity is all that’s needed.Make them stake holders , plus give them hope , and the returns are too any to count.
    It’s a beautiful life , especially when we strive to be civil to each other – eeeh T-Man?
    Warm regards , mi amigo!

  6. The thing about the media is lack of responsibility. A newspaper will carry a story one day and the next day will carry a different story about the same subject. In many a case this would mean a total contradiction. No retraction stories no apologies. And they cannot be correct both times. Is that responsible journalism?? Is it journalism?? The same story carried by three different newspapers would be so different someone or two are not reporting facts. Does anyone care??
    When someone says, “Mr. Dandala also indicated that he was told by the European executives that the positive images of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa that are shown in the series do not really exist in Afrika, period.”, who are these “European executives” we talk about and how do we quote private conversations in the newsmedia that cannot be checked??
    I think the newsmedia in T&T is out of hand and we need better libel law enforcement to get them back on track.

  7. Sorry AI , but whether it’s empowering soldiers ,to play police, since some political joker ,thinks they are under used ,new bills refered to as Section 34 – in some estimations -more geared to freeing crooked , political , white color criminal pals, more legislation to allegedly protect our kids, or already abused women,an opaque escapist bill , pretending to give neglected Tobago folks , self government ,or finally treat them like equal partners,with overdue dignity ,they deserves ,or in this case-as you have alluded -more libel laws , for preventing media personel , from calling elected public official ,drunks,criminals, or the likes ,our T&T , don’t need more laws , but maybe enforcement of those already on the books.
    We need not only to demand a certain level of professionalism from our law enforcement officers, but place our entire judicial system on notice, that we ain’t happy about most of the nonesense we have observed in the past , and amidst all the rhetorics is still continuing , as far as practices.
    I am talking about the DPP office, Lower courts, higher courts, and the private legal entities. We need to get into the 21 century, by giving Mamma Britiania , and her anochronistic ,Privy Concil , de booth , as it does us no good , as a so called independent country.
    We need to monitor the bozos ,that seep through the cracks ,to serve as our elected officials – the majority of which are fast talking lawyers , more conversant, in media grandstanding, drafting stupid , ill concieved ,unconstitutional, detrimental ,legislations, destined to exist long after they have gorn to their graves , or their cuddled kids , escaped to European dominant countries.
    Trust me when I say , the pro American litigious society ,some of you naive Trinis – due to too much Yankee TV viewing -think ‘is all dat,’ ain’t worth emulating,one bit , as it only benefit’s self serving ,ambulance chasing , greedy lawyers.
    Give it a rest, and try and demand that your government direct it’s energies into the people’s business.1. Equal playing field socio – economic justice , for all citizens – be they ardent , supporters , or alleged enemies, Si?
    2. Empowerment of the weak ,and disenfranchised .
    3. A coherent immigration policy , where folks with much needed skills set,as opposed to social parasites ,can be attracted to T&T , to help build it.
    4.Educational reform , that is geared to some modern day relevant industry.
    5. A Serious security agenda , that does not entail reverting to barbarianism of State oriented , judicial, and extra judicial killings,led by Flying squad, hang man noose, and only big guns police , working solely in poor neighborhood.
    6.Providing social support for poor , often dyfunctional families, so as to prevent the soon to be created PP , privatized , prison industrial complex .
    7.Land reform , and incentives to grow foods locally ,as opposed to giving away Croni, and other State entities ,only to party hacks, and not to closeted ,country haters,more concern in creating mega stores ,to import shoddy foreign made products, or selling out recently acquired assets ,to export much needed national reserves dollars ,to foreign bank accounts , and educate another generation of similaly unpatriotic , uncaring , Trini dispising elites.
    In short create a pill to make every Trini a true patriot , from cradle ,to de grave.
    Luv humanity AI, and forget de tribe! Such would bring better dividends, trust me on dat, Si?

  8. The beauty of T&T is anyone can say anything and not be responsible for what is said. We like it so and we will not change it. Chaos rules. Rules and laws are for underlings. We are VVIPs. Laws do not apply to us. The application of laws are foreign ideas that people with foreign holds try to enforce on us.
    Take for instance two foreign ideas – the cellphone and the motor vehicle. Those are foreign ideas we can take. But trying to link the together. Well that is taking a foreign idea too far. We are good drivers and better talkers so talking on the phone and driving is easy pickings.
    And anyone who think we do not have our own problems to solve has to be a foreigner. Just look around and you will find problems. But we do not want those with fporeign ideas to try to solve them, we can solve them ourselves. Now if only we can attract the “right” people to solve them. (Coded word, of course.)
    The best part of being Trini, notice I did not include Tobagonians, is deciding what everyone is and want without asking. Because we are brilliant, just look around and see. We can solve every problem if those other people only let us.

  9. AI , it’s just very sad , but yes, true,for I am just beginning to suspect that you did not make your parents too proud ,and probably did not advance too far , in that ‘education thing,’ that is so vital, to make a complete human being. Let me guess,you only got as far as Standard 1 ,at ripe age of 15,huh?
    You’ve just wasted a significant part of your life , writing four paragraphs of utter hogwash- and dat is putting it mildly, amigo.Learn to review what you write ,before pressing the send button , buddy! People globally ,follow Trini Center, and we ain’t wish for them to think Trinis are , with few exceptions ,a bunch of simi literate bums, when in actuality , we lead the Caribbean , in that area (literacy)
    Ooops , and for de record /incidentally, as deficient as it might still be, we did not just evolve to that sate, a short 3 years ago , Si?
    Let me see if I can decipher ,what lay behind your murky cranium, AI- and trust me when I say , it will be a challenge.
    Did you say that our authorities ,attempting to curb callous Cellphones usage ,while driving,or ensuring that citizen’s vehicles ,are properly maintained , and not defective ,are in fact ,foreign ideas?
    I understand, you ain’t mind ,if a fellow idiot Trini, spend’s $8000 a pop,for his girlfriend to jump up in a Carnival mas, but still drive with smooth tires , huh?
    You could live with them not even taking the time to get a vehicle inspection done,to ensure their brakes are in order, as long as they , can run to Miami , London, and Toronto , every 3 months to shop, or jump up in Trini water down Carnival, correct?
    So , ‘we have problems , and don’t need foreigners to solve them ,’ yet you, and similar Trini tribal blokes ,were jumping up like excited ,Las Cuevas Zandolees,when your Kamla led, PP government ,brought in a fake expert , white Canadian ,name Gibbs -in what looked like ,two days ,after her coronation ,as our 1st Female PM-to run our maligned Police Service?
    You did not have a problem with them paying him more money than the last 50 , all put together,only to then fire him ,in the dark of night ,long before his contract had expired, once they realized, he was not prepared to bend over , like a young ,lower caste prisoner ,in one of Canadian born ,Israel Khan Jr ,mismanaged prisons?
    Let me guess, you had a problem , when Cubans,and Nigerian foreign born doctors ,were brought in to take over our decrepit Health service , since the many doctors ,placed in the hospital , by high end UWI Medical Professor – now turned exalted Education Minister – Dr Goopiesing, weren’t, up to the task , Si?
    Make up our mind AI,or am I to believe that you ,and your slick AG ,Arnan Rammy , speak a different language , from the rest of us? The last time I checked , he too was saying things publicly, then trying to distant himself from them later, when confronted, by our savvy media , hummmm?

    In short , to quote you ,” not be responsible for what is said.”
    Sorry AI , it ain’t how things works in the modern world. One just cannot expect to have one’s cake ,and eat it likewise.
    I Luv this land people, but goodness me , should we ignore the fact AI , that foreign yardsticks are used ,by of all people foreigners , to assess us local Trini peons, to be the third fattest nation on planet earth?

  10. Don’t get it twisted AI, by confusing yours truuly, with others,who adhere to a fatalistic opaque culture.
    ‘You allzs,’ are the ones, with the tendency to not only resort to shot taking,from Professor Goopiesing’s elite, UWI trained doctors,in efforts to control, your unsurpressed demons, but a bit too often ,will consume that unpalatable liquid-at de drop of a hat- that was intended to destroy ugly weeds,and parasites, prevalent in our soon ,nonexistent agricultural sector- where state lands ,remain underutilized, by nuvo rich , country hating creatures.
    Instead of pretending to be a John Agitation reincarnated,yet failing miserably,in your attemps at humor,here is a better suggestion.
    Prove me wrong,-that you ain’t some clueless high school drop out-with a grown up ,intelligent, coherent response,so that we progressive Trini patriots,can accord you the respect you are yearning for, deep in your twisted soul.
    Luv Humanity people!

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