Local media houses again came under fire from the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) as the 62-year-old political organization held its third FACTS conference at the Belfield Community Centre in Black Rock last evening.
Two of the three main speakers delivered a verbal onslaught on the media – an issue that attracted the loudest and most sustained applause from the party faithful.
At least one male supporter was heard heckling a journalist, but Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss, who started the verbal attacks, quickly rebuked the supporter before continuing his own tirade.
“You are not doing your country that you born in any favours at all. I don’t care if you don’t like Donville Inniss, I don’t care if you don’t like Freundel Stuart, I don’t care if you don’t like the Democratic Labour Party . . . I say to you as journalists, you have a duty to act more responsibly,” Inniss said while trying to shout above the boisterous cheers from supporters.
“What happens in Barbados . . . is that you got individuals who write articles for media houses in Barbados [who] do not check the facts,” he added.
He lambasted reporters for “regurgitating what other people are saying and run wid it” without verifying the authenticity of the sources.
While declaring that he did not care if people thought he was fat or ugly, the outspoken Cabinet minister warned: “But leh me tell wunna something, you all are Barbadians and your country must come first and foremost . . .”
“You got individual organizations who the media in Barbados never check their credentials, but yuh know, once it comes out of the United States of America, yuh believe it is gospel,” he added.
Inniss complained that media houses then get “a few individuals who really don’t give a darn” about Barbados or the Government, who believe the best thing they could achieve is to see the back of the DLP, giving, ‘I told you so’ reactions.
The Government minister further complained that anything that was negative about Barbados coming from overseas was “plastered all over the front page”, while the positive news was relegated next to the court pages or obituaries. He claimed that factual stories from reputable agencies did not make the front pages of local newspapers.
Stinging comments on the media also flowed from the lips of Parliamentary Representative for St Michael West Central James Paul while Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy was more concerned about “the misinformation” being spread by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
When he took to the podium, Paul said he agreed with Inniss’ comments about the local media.
“We lack the Press of the past. Gladstone Holder, a true Barbadian statesman in this country, he was no friend or foe to any party, but he had a philosophy which he did not allow any particular political party to undermine or compromise . . . he had a philosophy . . . it was not based on ‘he say, or they say’,” said Paul.
He contended that no Prime Minister could call him in any office and cause him to compromise his philosophy, which was focused on research.
“What we have today is our Facebook freaks,” who were only confusing the minds of the people, Paul added.
Sealy, while not specifically taking on the media, directed his condemnation at the Opposition for spreading “misinformation and fake news” to the public.