By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- In an interview last week, Rick Wayne, publisher of the St Lucia Star newspaper, referred to the local media as, by and large, "incompetent."
According to Wayne, the Saint Lucia media “does not do any research whatsoever and consequently does not serve the purpose to the public for which it exists, so the media ends up inadvertently or otherwise misleading the public by withholding information important to the public.”
Wayne’s outspoken comments came on the heels of an apology
issued by local radio broadcaster Timothy Poleon, following threats of legal action against him by government ministers in relation to a Caribbean News Now article entitled “US action against St Lucia may be connected to visa revocation
” that Poleon read on air in September.
Wayne said he called into the radio station to ask for an explanation for the apology but the people who took his call were too scared to comment.
“The media is either too stupid or too inept or too scared. They don’t even realise they have the right to ask questions about the wording of the apology. They have a right to do that and they can do that that without themselves creating any libel but we’re incompetent and we don’t read, we don’t research, etc.,” he said.
Wayne then took a turn on the Saint Lucia Media Association, which he referred to as “a waste of time.”
He pointed out that all Poleon did was read something on air “but it’s interesting that the origin, the original people who put out the article have not been stopped; the article remains in place; everybody can read it.”
“If the idea is that Timothy ruined people’s reputations, the magazine article was the first to ruin the reputations and continues to ruin the reputations and so on and so on; so Timothy had been turned into a scapegoat,” Wayne continued.
Asked if he thought the Media Association is doing a fair job, Wayne responded, “The Media Association is doing a terrible job by pretending to be a media association because people believe that’s a media association when it’s not. It’s a group of people who don’t know their aft from their elbow; who don’t discuss journalism at all.”
Pressed for a solution to the problem, Wayne said, “People are always accusing me of underscoring the problems and not offering the solutions. That’s because they have not learned to hear well because it is not possible to talk about a problem without the solution being automatically there. So if I say the reporters are lousy and they don’t research, I’m obviously saying the reporters ought to learn to research; reporters ought to learn their craft.”
Meanwhile, Saint Lucia’s minister for information and broadcasting, Dr James Fletcher, said that he would like to see the local media regulate itself while, at the same time, indicating that steps are underway to “standardise” the media in Saint Lucia.
“There are many FM stations, many television stations operating in Saint Lucia,” Fletcher said. “They are all competing for a very small market share and I think that has caused some of them to be very aggressive in their programming; to take some risk that... to try to be ahead of the pack and unfortunately that has happened in an environment that has not been regulated. So, the challenge for us now is to try to put in place some sort of regime.”
Fletcher said he hoped to see legislation go to Parliament soon and that consideration will be given to comments and suggestions on the Bill.
The new Broadcast Bill speaks to cultural policies, promoting and shaping values and contributing to a national identity.