July 18, 2007

Our timid media

I read with bemusement Thaao Dill's interview in the Gazette which deviated into blogs, and more specifically my assertion that Bermuda's media is timid:

He’s a regular viewer of the Island’s blogs, and is frustrated by constant references — particularly from politics.bm’s Christian Dunleavy — to Bermuda’s “timid press”.

“People assume that the media here is softer than it should be, but I think that’s intellectually dishonest as a perception,” he argued.

“One: as a community Bermuda wants nothing more from its citizens than to be polite.

“The press speaking to people with a pickaxe and a shovel is not what Bermudians want. It completely goes against the ethos of people here.

“Two: the people that make these complaints are self-proclaimed pundits that wish they were reporters. They wish they had the opportunity to get in these situations but for whatever reason they’d rather just backseat drive an interview.

“I have asked questions that I know have annoyed the heck out of the Premier, (UBP chairman) Shawn Crockwell, Michael Dunkley. You can ask them, but you can’t force them to answer.

“Then they say the press are timid just because they haven’t answered. It’s wild, man.”

Intellectually dishonest. I'd call intellectually dishonest trying to suggest that a non-timid media is a rude one. Bermuda's media is timid. That's easily proven.

Exhibit A is the Bermuda Sun article on the PLP's candidate announcement of Zane Desilva without even so much as a mention (which is all that the Gazette managed) of the fact that he was the central cog in the wheel of the major allegations of corruption in the leaked police report, including alleged kickbacks and mixing of public and private project funds.

When someone with this cloud over their head wants to run for public office and be entrusted with the management of public funds, the press have a duty to do more than to ignore it or just say "He refused to comment".

The candidate roll-out press conference should have been an out and out grilling, politely of course, to try and get some of these questions answered. Like who were "EB" and "NB" on the business plan for a 5% cut for the asbestos removal to Cuba?

But back to the idea that I want them to rude. You can be aggressive respectfully, assertive and persistent in getting to the bottom of the story.

Also, I note the fact that he says that his favourite guest to interview is Senator Burch, easily the most impolite politician in Bermuda:

While diplomatically claiming nobody has been a bad guest, Mr. Dill declares Senator David Burch as his favourite interviewee. “I dig him man!” he said. “He just doesn’t care about anything other than his job. He doesn’t care if people don’t like him, or necessarily understand him. He just really wants to get things accomplished.”

But I thought that all Bermudians wanted was politeness? Whatever.

Finally, I think it's worth pointing out, as I did to Thaao in an email, that I have no interest in being a reporter and that I'm not doing schtick although I work hard to generate a few laughts.

Thaao may be playing a character, but I'm not. I don't make money from this, I have no corporate boss to tell me what to do, and no advertisers to please. I say what I say because it needs to be said, and our timid media is missing a huge swath of political coverage, may the chips fall where they may.

The issues I write about (accountability, racial tolerance, good governance, modernizing Parliament) are ones that are fundamental to a properly functioning democracy. I make no apologies for that, whether Thaao thinks it's sincere or not.

I guess it works for Senator Burch but not me.

Posted by Christian S. Dunleavy