There’s another Barbados Blog online called Barbados Free Press. It’s wildly popular. I believe that it regularly makes WordPress’ top 100 blogs.
It scares the hell out of me.
This blog, has been one of the harshest critics of the Barbados government, and the politicians here. (And lord knows they need criticizing). Problem is that BFP is sloppy. They will publish anything that’s going in the rumour mill with no regard for checking facts. Further their tendency for hyperbole is amazing. Here are a few examples:
1. They regularly compare Barbados’ democracy to that of Zimbabwe. Gee I don’t think that you will find the leader of the opposition in Barbados having any concern about being physically abused by the police at the behest of the Government. I don’t think that there are any laws making it illegal to criticise the government either. (Two features of government Zimbabwe style)
2. They equate a grass fire near the hotel of a prominent government critic with Arson. In case you aren’t familiar with Barbados it’s currently dry season. It hasn’t rained since the World Cup Final 🙂 grass fires are a dime a dozen these days and will continue to be until rainy season starts.
3. Somehow a lottery that is being set up by the Barbados Cricket Association (a non government entity) merits the headline: Owen Arthur Government Targets Bajan Wallets With 2,500 New Video Lottery Terminals – “A Tax On Stupid People
I’m still not sure how they reached that one! For the record there are several examples of sporting bodies having lotteries to raise money the most successful of which being the Barbados Olympic Association. How the government gets into this I’m not sure.
4. Their coverage of the cricket world cup was almost gleeful when it was clear that Noel Lynch’s overly optimistic projections would not be met. Wonderfully illustrated with pictures of exploding cruise ships. While anyone can see that CWC was not the bonanza that it had been billed to be, let’s just say you will be able to find more balanced assessments elsewhere.
5. In one of it’s earlier posts BFP accused a new high court judge of having a conflict of interest, by remaining a director of the Central Bank of Barbados. Having made all sorts of implied statements on the character of the otherwise blameless judge. It was revealed (by the same judge) that she had resigned from the Central Bank Board when she accepted her appointment to the bench. The extent of BFP’s “investigation” had been a quick check of the Central Bank website. I’d say that’s fairly a fairly cavalier approach before you slander someone who is completely innocent, and who’s reputation and ability to fairly conduct their job could be damaged by the smear.
Now in BFP’s defence, there is corruption in Barbados, as there is in every government. It’s an interesting feature of our evolving democracy that everything that before was only quietly talked about in living rooms can be posted in public without fear of reprisals (and if you are thinking of something sinister here I’m referring to the risk of being sued for slander). Maybe the politicians will think twice because their transgressions will be trotted out in cyberspace for all to see. (I don’t think so but we can always hope) but also its possible that people outside of Barbados may actually take the nonsense on BFP seriously and serious damage may be done to the island’s reputation.
The tragedy of Barbados Free Press is that the good that it might do in keeping politicians on their toes, is completely undermined by their almost total lack of credibility. Also the good that it might do might be completely cancelled out by the damage that it might cause.
The complete and total freedom that blogging makes available should be treated with a little more responsibility.
That’s just my two cents.