Letters & Opinion

Charlatans Hurting The Media Industry

By Franklin Solomon

FOR some time, media in the Caribbean has taken a beating. That is unfortunate because there are excellent publications and journalists out there. Unfortunately, it seems that they are paying the price for the charlatans masquerading as ‘mainstream media’, but who are actually selfish lobbyists pushing their own agenda, and who are muddying public opinion by the garbage they publish.

For instance, there is a self-professed expert, who has to have a long appendage attached to every article he writes (clearly trying to compensate for something) that wants to present himself as a champion of the common man and an advocate for the people, but who has shown in Saint Lucia, for instance, that he is nothing more than an undercover ‘politrickcian’ who has long opposed the United Workers’ Party, while conveniently lofting up the Labour Party.

However, I would like to advise Mr. Melanius Alphonse, the management and development consultant, senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now, political, economic and global security developments guru, a philanthropist advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality and yadda yaddayadda, as henauseously reminds us all the time – that your undergarments are showing, sir, and it is clear that you are naught but a piper playing the tune that is called for you.

Mr. Alphonse, who is also closely associated with an online publication called Caribbean News Now, is trying to spew his venom throughout the region as he bats for his good friend, Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who, ironically is the man who heads Antigua’s Labour Party, so you can connect the dots. In doing so, Mel seems to have put specific focus on Sandals Resorts International and its Chairman Butch Stewart, the continuation of what appears to be a malicious and concerted effort over the last few months.

Recently, Melanius wrote an article which slanderously accused Stewart of hacking regional elections, while heaping scorn on the Jamaican Observer, a newspaper that was founded decades ago with the help of one of the region’s most outstanding publishers, Ken Gordon.

Melanius took issue with a contributor to the paper, Glendon Phillip, who has questioned the rationale behind PM Browne’s epiphany that hotels should be nationalized throughout the Caribbean. However, instead of producing a sound counter-argument, Melanius spent his time spreading spurious allegations about Stewart, and offering empty rhetoric on the issue of concessions.

In other words, he displayed the same behaviour he accused Phillip of displaying. And as one person commented after, Alphonse seemed to forget that a concession agreement between an investor and a government is not illegal.

Melanius then followed that ‘commentary’ up with an ‘editorial’ in Caribbean News Now titled ‘Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’ – which again attacked Stewart and regurgitated half-truths about a matter in the Turks and Caicos Islands involving monies paid to disgraced former Premier Michael Misick, and for which Sandals paid a US$12 million fine to the TCI government.

He went on to cast all sorts of aspersions, going so far as to quote a story from the Bahamas Tribune, when he could just as easily have gone to a known TCI publication – Magnetic Media – where he would have found that Sandals was actually complimented by the Department of Justice and the Special Investigations and Prosecution Team for the unprecedented manner in which it cooperated with the authorities for this investigation, even describing the company’s level of co-operation as both extraordinary and unique.

In the end, both Sandals and Stewart were vindicated. It was found out that the treasurer at the time had gone off reservation, and he was the one culpable in the matter – all of which was conveniently left out of the ‘editorial’. What it does have a striking resemblance to, however, is what Gaston Browne said about the company earlier this year; who is paying the piper?

Ironically, Browne’s attack back-fired because having always engaged such world class auditors as Price Waterhouse and Grant Thornton, Sandals is considered to be one of the world’s most compliant companies.

If at any point I thought Caribbean News Now had any credibility, that’s certainly shot to pieces. And, as for Mel, he accuses the Observer of being biased yet proceeds to display the same level of bias in his writings. Why doesn’t he talk about the recent arrest of Asot Michael? We wait with bated breath to see how that pans out because you are right about one thing, those in glass houses really shouldn’t be throwing stones.

It is this sort of behaviour that has caused problems for legitimate media houses. The advent of the internet and social media has opened many doors; unfortunately, it has had severe repercussions for practicing journalists.

21 Comments

  1. Mr. Solomon, who gave you the right to call Mr. Alphonse’s writing bias and yours objective? Sir, please be reminded that a journalist or writer is either telling the truth or not. When you use words like objective, bias, slanted, agenda, etc., you are not saying anything meaningful. If Mr. Alphonse is deliberately not telling the truth in his articles then he is a liar. Similarly, if you are doing the same then you are a barefaced liar. There should not be any objectivity in journalism. A journalist should be in search of the truth and write his piece without any fear of reprisal or contradiction. I expect truth and accuracy from all journalist and not objectivity.

    I think your critique of Mr. Alphonse is baseless and sophomoric. if you are looking for objectivity from any journalist then you would have to wait till the cows come home. So, the right that you have to print your article gives Mr. Alphonse the same right to print his piece. Remember the words of Voltaire ” I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    1. Jacques: I don’t think you know what the word ‘objectivity’ means, when you state “[t]here should not be any objectivity in journalism”!

      However, you are right when you state that “[a] journalist should be in search of the truth and write his piece without fear of reprisal or contradiction”; how about giving us an example of a journalist in these modern times? Otherwise, one would just consider your comment to be idle musing on the existence of unicorns.

  2. Garcon, Mr.Solomon your sentences are too long. I had to take a break so I could drink some water in your second paragraph.

    Next, what scorn he he heaped upon the Jamaican Observer? As a curious reader, I want to know the answer. Because the newspaper was founded many years ago doesn’t make it’s reporting correct. Melanius uses big words and cumbersome phrases so his writing is as hard as Chinese arithmetic. But your writing needs a lot to be desired. It is too patchy and incomplete.

  3. malphonse@rogers.com lives a life ensconced in Toronto.

    Perhaps he should spend more time here in St. Lucia and listening actively to people of all walks of life about their challenges and their successes, and their hope for them and their children as we continue to charter a path in the 21st century.

    Hence it is very easy for him to seemingly play what could resemble a colloquial ‘armchair quarterback’.

    His columns are at some points lacking in established fact, sometimes prefaced nonconstructive vitriol and a curiously high level of bitterness, his logic does not sometimes seem to have a clear flow and is occasionally disjointed, and he occasionally cites quotes and graphics that are not attributed.

    He claims to be a management consultant but that does not make his opinions from Toronto worth any more or any less than anyone else in St. Lucia. Too often the media, the private sector, and the public sector bring in consultants and are sometimes disappointed when they are told what they already know or are disappointed by the consultants’ seeming lack of deep understanding of the particular subject. Been there, got the T-shirt, having retained consultants ranging from top-shelf global to one-person operations. Some were good, others were lots of sizzle and no steak.

    Where do we get signed up for paycheques from several media outlets for writing often very, very politically slanted columns that might appear to harken back to the days when Melanius was with the Lucian Peoples Movement (LPM).

  4. Franklin,

    Please name those “excellent publications and journalists” which are out there; because, I cannot remember when ‘mainstream media’ has never been “actually selfish lobbyists pushing their own agenda, and who are muddying public opinion by the garbage they publish.”

      1. Marcus,

        I see that you too cannot definitively name any “excellent publications and journalists”; so you’ve taken to surmising.

        1. Nudge,

          What is your point? Are you the arbiter of objective journalism? “Excellent publications and journalists” exist in the eyes of the beholder. To understand this is to view life thru a different prism. You will agree that there is a difference between rationality and reason. If so, then, there is no balance in the truth. Either a statement is true or false. The issue is, there is no objective good. Good is what is good for me. Therefore, in the eyes of Franklin, Marcus and myself there are ” excellent publications and journalists.” You may disagree but you cannot negate the fact that we all see the world as we want to see it. Why, because we are all motivated by self-interest, which is a law of nature.

          1. Jacques,

            What is the difference between rationality & reason, besides how they are spelt?

            You, Marcus, and Franklin cannot name “excellent publications and journalists” because you’re afraid to expose your irrationality & unreason.

            Objectivity: a state or situation in which something is based only on facts and evidence (synonyms: truth; fact; actuality). Your subjective assertion (motivated by self-interest) that there are “excellent publications and journalists”, without providing the evidence has as much effectiveness as a fart against a gale – your opinion means nothing if not evidenced by facts.

            Get the point?

        2. Nudge,
          I would summarize by saying that Mr. Melanius Alphonse is an excellent journalist and the Voice a superb publication. What is wrong with this statement?

          You fail to understand that in any discourse, whether it be political, philosophical, etc., every term has two meanings; an official meaning and a technical meaning. What you cited was an official meaning of “objectivity”. It can be argued that there is no objectivity or truth, only the interpretation of the truth. I would further argue that your interpretation of the truth is solely based on your moral prejudice. As a consequence, people can create their own reality since everyone has a moral prejudice.

          Are you there?

          1. Jacques,
            What is wrong with your statement? It’s meaningless without evidence!

            Any absence of objectivity or truth has a word you avoid like the plague; it’s called a LIE. What you call “interpretation of truth” is known the world over as LYING; “misinterpretation” of the truth” is known as LYING TO ONESELF.

  5. Wow. John, breathe and gently try to unbunch your panties. Frankie has some good points that you have failed to to address, even if you could understand. The verbage might be a mouthful, but maybe he’s a guy who still in thesis mode. What is important is the message. And that is “A lot of people calling themselves journalists and/or even bona fide journalists now seem to have pockets to fit 40 extra pieces of silver”. This phenomenon seems to have taken firm root over the past couple years especially on social media, and it has been on a global scale. I wold think that Caribbean scribes were slow in following this subversive counter-culture, but at least it fall in line with the “fake news” phenomenon, so it’s easy to identify. The Nazis used the same tactic through traditional media to spread their misinformation during WW2. What is extremely bothersome is that in one instance, persons hide behind fake names, fake profiles and fake avatars to promulgate only one side of the story – the side that favours them. In the other instance, “established” writers secretly choose a side and point their pens in only one direction. The intelligent audience should therefore be able to discern and differentiate these tactics, and only absorb what they deem to be verifiable information. At the end of it all, these phone scribes will phase themselves out, but not before they would have influenced certain portions of society to give up some of their free thinking and instead be guided by their (the writers) poisonous words. Think. If a noted scribe wrote a “cited and verifiable” story that the earth was round, would you (a) blindly agree, (b) think that the 12th Century Catholic church was making a comeback, or (c) conduct your own research and form your own conclusions? I am certain that you would not spend your precious time trying to debate that point when you know better. After all, you haven’t fallen off the edge of the world yet… or have you? Have a blessed day, I shall pray for your soul.

  6. This joker Franklin Solomon could be best describe as Donald Trump “Mini Me”, he wave the Fake News Banner but have yet to provide an tangible evidence to support his contention. Solomon handful of readers may be intrigued by the grey noise presented, but that intrigue alone is not enough to convince the international community the validity or authority of his position in the matter.

    1. Is the J in JMWAVE for Melanius? Melanius is this you using a fake profile and trying to defend yourself? Because that’s the only way I can make sense of this comment, from a fella who clearly thinks he is Batman!

  7. John, please learn to read properly before writing a response. It’s similar to listening and speaking. And I would always support people gong back to school. It does matter how much of a dotard people may think you are. Oh, and do encourage JMWAVE to accompany you. I see you didn’t want to highlight his typos.

  8. One of the best Journalist in the Caribbean (no pun intended) just died. His name Robert Best. Ask any Journalist from the Caribbean and they will tell you that he was as fine as you could get. The next one who is indeed outstanding, Lennox Honeychurch.

    1. If journalists were movie producers , Dominica’s Honeychurch would be a producer of . documentaries. The little that I have read of his writing spoke to me of a sense of national purpose. . Claude McKay the novelist embedded that quality in his writing. V.S. Naipaul also embedded a sense of cultural purpose in his novels.
      For the unique needs of the Caribbean region, I would dwelight in the idealism that our cadre of journalists would share /embed a purpose of exponential Caribbean unification.

  9. This piece does appear to be part and parcel of the international push to impinge Voltaire’s maxim on democratic freedom of expression. It is not coincidental that many of history’s infamous tyrants burned BOOKS and PERSECUTED FREE THINKERS.
    BEWARE!

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