News, integrity, and discussion, but the freedom to choose

“The news media can set the agenda for the public’s attention to that small group of issues around which public opinion forms.” – (Maxwell McCombs).

“People learn from the media what the important issues are.” (McCombs & Shaw, 1972: 176).

Caribbean Times believes in that the media, like any other entity so pervasive with its presence in the public, ought to be responsible and duty-bound to those things which hold up the profession to scrutiny and best practices. Aware that the media is often described as a potent and powerful tool, we at Caribbean Times would never encourage the readership to take things for granted, nor to totally dispel as mythical the presence and possible effectiveness of the media in shaping public discourse, if not necessarily shaping minds.

Indeed, a Princeton University Scholar – Bernard Cohen, contends that: “The press is significantly more than a purveyor of information and opinion. It may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling readers what to think about.” Caribbean Times makes claim of upholding its integrity, and it recognises that there are elements of subjectivity that can slant stories and articles though objective reporting remains a valid aim.

However, what appears preposterous, are the denials from some writers, some publishers and media outlets that theirs is the unbiased, and untainted truths; and that the headlines offered to the public are never intended to sway emotions or discussions. That, as far as Caribbean Times is concerned, is an intellectual dishonesty that will often be served up until object to such blatant mischief.

Indeed, the degrees to which news will flow to the public along a continuum is reflective of how much influence such a medium intends to deliver its messages, and the further subtlety that may be used to ignite public discussions on particular issues and matters. Take for example the dearth of public education on matters relating to the Caribbean Court of Justice and Caribbean jurisprudence. Since the discussion has been reignited and even with the presence of a CCJ delegation in Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean Times has made a decision to inform and educate, without coercion to take a particular position.

Of course, the more insidious may find this as entering some form of courtship with one group or another. However, one must be reminded that to be forewarned is to be forearmed, and therefore, with the general public at some time in the near future being asked to give its vote, one may well feel that now – well before that time arises – is the best to be educated, informed, and to be put in a better position to choose. This is precisely what Bernard Cohen is speaking about. Not being the silent or loquacious observer, but observing the effects once things are put in the public, and then become the observer that can report candidly but without falsehood. We know at Caribbean Times that “misperceptions do not occur without prompting,” and there will never be any attempt to produce or allow false statements to win the day or have a ‘sell-out’ on next market day.

Caribbean Times, admittedly therefore, understands that it will influence discussion on particular topics, but for national good, and certainly in the interest of still allowing people the freedom to choose. It will help to formulate opinions and subject true or false claims to scrutiny in its news, analyses, and editorials. Clearly nothing wrong with those things. Moreover and at all times, this Caribbean Times newspaper will be influential and diligently work towards attaining to its motto of being ‘informative, reliable, enriching’. This, without being forced to retreat in the face of truth.

There is no reason that an entity understanding its potency and power should resort to observing or sharing with the public on the basis of a hidden agenda, unless it is up to no good intent or objective. Caribbean Times will not be forsaking the very things that it pledges to stand for, only to fall flat while a casual observer looks on with glee at the demise.

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