The people of Trinidad and Tobago have been described as 'banwagonists', especially when dealing with sports and I believe that a big reason for this is the lack of sporting coverage by the media. This, in my opinion, has resulted in an ‘out of sight, out of mind syndrome’ where we only become interested when a national team does well on an international stage or a big international event is on the horizon such as the Olympics, FiFa World Cup and the Cricket World Cup. It’s like this because this is the period when the media become interested and in our society we tend to follow the hype.
Yeah, sure we get highlights in the sportscasts, but, who really knows what’s going on with swimming, what about athletics? What’s the latest with Mark Burns? Can Devon Joslin produce the kind of form for T&T that helped the Defence Force capture the Pro League title this season? These are all questions that the average person cannot answer because they are not well informed. As a matter of fact people know more about Digicel Rising Stars and the next T&T Top Model than they do about any local sporting league or events.
I admire the Americans, the British, South Americans and the Europeans because they understand the importance of sports in a society. To them it’s a big deal and they treat it as such. This is probably why they are always at the top of the game in many different disciplines. There are numerous sporting TV and Radio stations such as Sky Sports, ESPN, Fox Soccer Report and Fox Sports that are entirely about the different sports that are engaged in their countries. Most of our local ‘sports journalists’ are a waste of time, in my opinion. You can tell by listening to them that they are unfamiliar and do not have a sporting background or even a broad handle on sporting jargon. Maybe it’s the media’s fault we’re 'banwagonists 'and maybe it's time the media give sports its due justice.
New sport on the rise in Trinidad and Tobago, Extreme Cycling
Gone are the days of old when granny used to put us to sit in front of her while in her old creaking rocking chair, with either a pipe or a whip in her hand, to tell stories of old tradition to life.
What ever happened to Papa Bois, La Diablesse, Mama Dlo, the Soucouyant with her fiery flamboyant skin, Ligahoo and Douens? Miserable little tricky back footed, faceless bastards who used to lead children into the bushes till they were lost.
Many of the young people who may be reading this would be lost as to who or what I am referring to. However, before the advent of reality shows, internet, play station 2, I pods, cell phones, social media etc, this is how we ‘old folks’ used to intrigue our imagination.
It’s a shame that the dominant media have taken over our culture to such a huge extent that our valuable old time stories are being swept under the carpet with very little hope of return. In addition to the imagination, fascination and scariness those stories brought. They also brought a sense of togetherness amongst friends and family alike who would listen attentively to granny speak while a bake roasted on an opened fire.
This was how families used to interact no so long ago. Even though people might complain about the alleged demonic influences accompanied with our local folklore, the fact of the matter is, these stories opened the door way for discussions and conversations amongst family members. I dear you to have an intellectually bonding conversation with someone chatting on Facebook, Twitter or BBM.
What is the local media doing to keep the flames of folklore burning? Definitely not enough, because the media hardly ever bother to do a feature story on Trinbagonian tales from long ago by interviewing the last remaining elderly souls that actually remember a good local Soucouyant story. No one even bothers to do docu-series on proposed titles like “The search for Papa Bois” or “I think my neighbor is a La Diablesse” to cement some sort of culture and imagination in the minds of our youth. Coincidentally, thanks to the media, our Trini youngsters can clearly identify a Zombie, Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and the Boogieman to name a few; all of which by the way are conjured from foreign folklores brought to us by the media.
Sad to say Uncle Papa Bois and Aunty Mama Dlo that your time has unfortunately passed and you are hardly remembered in the fragile fading minds of those like me.
The topic of Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gays, and Transgenders (LGBT) has been a very sore topic in Trinidad and Tobago for a number of years. People are afraid to discuss the issues that surround LGBT’s in our society mainly because they are afraid that they are going to offend some people. The ones who are more on the fearful side are the LGBTs. The reason for that, aside from blatant discrimination from the general public, is that the law is not on their side.
The laws of Trinidad and Tobago view Lesbianism, Bisexuality, Homosexuality and Transgenderism as criminal acts punishable by imprisonment. “Trinidadian criminal code prohibits sex between two people of the same sex, as is the case in much of the English-speaking Caribbean. Section 13 of the Sexual Offences Act 1986 criminalises "buggery". This section, strengthened in 2000, states: (1) A person who commits buggery is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment: a. If committed by an adult on a minor, for life; b. If committed by an adult on another adult, for twenty five years; c. If committed by a minor, for five years."
Even as the law is expected to be common knowledge to all, some of our local T.V. Stations and Newspapers broadcast and publish content that are not in accordance with our laws. The Ellen Degeneres Show, Will and Grace and even America’s Next Top Model, are just a few of the shows that encourage what our law is against. I personally have no issue with LGBT’s, they are human beings just like the rest of us and should be treated as such. The question here is whether or not media houses have a responsibility to broadcast content that upholds the law of the land? Or is it okay to adopt the copycat syndrome even if it goes against what we as a nation are supposed to abide by?
All last week I heard ads on the radio and saw several on the television pushing Halloween parties and movies. Since when do we celebrate Halloween? Where did we get it from?
Yes the media is to inform and entertain us, but can they change our traditions? What happened to All Souls or All Saints when we pray for those who have departed? We have thrown this away for Halloween. Do we know the origins of the festival? Why do they wear masks? What is the purpose of the “trick or treat”? But we have people counting down the week … Wednesday, Thursday, Friday… Halloween Party!
What is going on with our media houses? Our television stations advertise and air Halloween shows during the final October weekend, our radio stations play and endorse Halloween party ads. It’s one thing to look at running the ads as a business venture but how come our media houses do not endorse All Souls or All Saints (which is originally celebrated November 1st) so that we light candles and pray for the souls of those who have passed - the persons who were killed on our roads, on the job, the victims of crime. Instead we have Halloween stories and Halloween sales.
Let’s look at the facts – according to the Colombian Encyclopedia, Halloween, Oct. 31, the eve of All Saints' Day , observed with traditional games and customs. The word comes from medieval England's All Hallows' eve (Old Eng. hallow = "saint”). However, many of these customs predate Christianity, going back to Celtic practices associated with Nov. 1, which was Samhain, the beginning of winter and the Celtic New Year. Witches and other evil spirits were believed to roam the earth on this evening, playing tricks on human beings to mark the season of diminishing sunlight. Bonfires were lit, offerings were made of dainty foods and sweets, and people would disguise themselves as one of the roaming spirits, to avoid demonic persecution. Survivals of these early practices can be found in countries of Celtic influence today, such as the United States where children go from door to door in costumes demanding "trick or treat." To read more… http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Halloween.aspx
The media does not tell us what to think but what to think about. But, they should not promote things because everyone else (country) is doing it. Is the profit from advertising more important than the messages being fed to citizens?
On behalf of T&T Bloggerzine, to all the families and friends of those who have passed away, accept our condolences.
Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them
May they rest in peace. Amen. X3
May the souls of all the faithful who have departed rest in peace. Amen.
Have you ever turned on your television set onto one of the local stations to watch the news and left it on past an hour only to wonder if you were still on the same channel, as the programming was from one of those American networks?
There are about 13 television stations in Trinidad and Tobago, most of which are on Cable, with only about four that operate nationally.
There are scores of international cable channels, predominantly American, yet still some of the local stations still find it necessary to include a large amount of foreign content in their programming.
Imagine you can find shows like USA’s Burn Notice, Lifetime’s Army Wives, NCIS, CSI, Without a Trace, Ellen DeGeneres, Desperate Housewives as well as various sitcoms throughout the night and day on these local stations. Several of these shows follow closely behind the new episodes from the American Networks and one can imagine the cost for such popular, foreign shows.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that some of the popular shows or movies cannot form part of the local programming, but at a minimal, to perhaps accommodate people who live in rural areas and do not have access to Cable.
Some may say that there isn’t a lot of local content to broadcast, but I beg to differ. There are a couple of stations that broadcast all local or even Caribbean content. Local does not have to be restricted to Trinidad and Tobago, we are part of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and we share some of their culture.
Yet how many local or Caribbean movies, films, documentaries or even sitcoms do we see on our local stations? And there are numerous materials. You only hear about or see them during the annual Film Festivals we host here. Someone very close to me is in his last year of a BA in Film at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. After his class graduates, what’s next? Students have graduated before them and have made films and documentaries. Has anyone of you seen any?
The Fourth Estate (the media) is supposed to be the voice of the people, not only when they are in trouble but also when they are trying to get their messages, in this case creations, across. I think it’s time they approach the Film students at UWI and try to give them a platform where they can create and have their films/documentaries aired.
Don’t think for one second that the Media Companies may not be aware of the Film Degree at UWI, because some of their employees are enrolled in the programme.
As it relates to Caribbean films, if you do some checking you would see that the directors of some of these films are Trinbagonians. We need to give them the encouragement to produce local/Caribbean content or they will simply migrate to where their skills are needed and appreciated. To the local stations that do air predominately local content, hats off to you, but to the others I think it’s time you guys get on the local bandwagon.
'Trini to d Bone' returns
So what do you think, should more local content be aired on T&T television stations?
How often do you open the newspaper or watch the 7 o'clock news and see the scenes of horrific accidents with the bodies of the victims sprawled out uncovered on the highway, a street or in a drain. What effect does this have on the mother, father, children and other relatives of these victims who would be scarred for life?
For example, a couple of months ago a municipal police officer was shot and killed in an attempted carjacking by bandits along the Uriah Butler Highway near the Grand Bazaar traffic lights. The picture of him lying dead on the road, still holding his car keys, was on the front page of all the major newspapers and shown on prime time newscasts on different TV stations. This was one of the most insensitive coverage of a story that I’ve seen in recent times with reporters going so far as to visit the family at their home in such an obvious time of grief and place a camera and microphone in their faces, asking them asinine questions, such as, how they felt about what has happened.
I am questioning the ethics of our media and after some research I learned that there really aren’t any established set of rules or guidelines of ethical behaviour for local journalists. However, I looked at the code of ethics for the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), part of which states: Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children. Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief. Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort.
Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance. I wish our local media will take note of this and be more responsible and sensitive in their reporting.
NB: Only Newsday front pages were used in this article as they were the only ones accessible via the local newspaper online archiving system.
Do you think the local media should be more ethical in their coverage of tragedy and grief?
Trinidad and Tobago was once an island known for its local cuisines which were handed down from generations to generations for centuries from all ethical backgrounds.
The East Indians brought a range of curry tongue-tingling delicacies while the Africans brought their own delicious creole flavours, making Trinidad and Tobago the taste bud paradise of the world. In other words, Trinbagonians could 'reallll' cook.
However, with fast food influences from abroad being magnified by the dominating media, Trinbagonians are quickly loosing the ‘sweet hand’ we could have proudly boasted of just a few years ago.
Instead of one spending 40 minutes over a pot to make a healthy tasty beef pelau or dhal, rice and curry fish, we prefer to spend $60 on a medium pizza or $40 on a 4-piece chicken and fries daily, which by the way research has proven are filled with so much unhealthy trans-fats that it slowly clogs your arteries, killing you while you eat.
It cannot be that these fast food are so popular in Trinidad and Tobago because of the ‘fastness’ because if you have ever been to a local fast food outlet, you would definitely see that the lines are extremely long, notice the very unsanitary conditions (particularly in the bathrooms) and the service is unbearably slow which is also accompanied with hoggish customer service representatives.
It's simply because the media have pushed the convenience of fast food so extensively throughout the world that we now wonder how the hell can we live without fast food, which companies spend millions of dollars on monthly advertising to ensure the messages are delivered and registered.
The speed, the luxury of not cooking, the yummy taste; all these messages and thousands more like it are being fed to us in all 'forms and fashion' - Internet, billboards, television, posters, banners, etc. All this effort to ensure that you the public are hooked on fast food.
As for me, the fast food brainwash of the dominant media can take a back burner because nothing beats my great-grand-mama's curry crab and dumplings washed down by some sweet homemade passion-fruit punch.
What's your opinion? Do you think the media turned our cultural Caribbean cuisine nation into a fast food federation?