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‘The writer’ totally missed the picture

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EDITOR: When I wrote the letter under the caption “Jerry Turning Inside Out Show Upside Down”, I never intended to get involved in a tennis-styled volley with any other writer. Now, I have no choice but to reply to “The Writer” who wrote a letter under the caption “Looking At The Real Picture” in The Vincentian newspaper of December 3rd.{{more}}

The “Writer” seems to have completely missed the point of my submission. It is evident that he didn’t understand what he read, or, as he said in his final paragraph, he decided to lose a few marks just for argument’s sake. That in itself is ludicrous. One must be guided by simple common sense not just for argument’s sake.

My letter was never intended as a personal attack on Jerry George’s integrity and that of his Inside Out programme. But we all suppose that this type of programming was formulated to educate, inform and sensitise viewers on matters of national interest. A journalist’s integrity hinges on his ability to be fair and accurate. One must be very careful not to surrender that integrity, especially when wearing so many hats. It is very easy to off balance and hurt one’s self when under the limbo bar.

If, as “The Writer” said, George came across as a person who was widely versed on the issues he addressed, why did Minister Julian Francis lament that he spent precious time rambling through stacks of papers to answer a question from the guest? Don’t you think an interviewer, well versed on a subject, should have his questions and any response right at the tip of his lips? I think so. And if “The Writer” listened to the Vinlec analogy used by Minister Francis he would have understood the relevancy. George didn’t want to hear any of it. You see, journalists must be very careful not to put their professional integrity at risk.

Now, for the interesting part. “The Writer” asked in his letter: “Why would a sane person (referring to me), use the construction of a highway in Barbados to be compared to concerns of Vincentians over construction of the cross country road?” And he went on to dispel any comparison of the flat lands of Barbados to the mountainous hard soils of St. Vincent. Well here lies his problem. He is either suffering from a lack of simple understanding or, is he conceding marks just for argument’s sake?

In my letter, I never tried comparing the terrain and building of roads in Barbados to road building in St. Vincent. All I did was to show whenever there is a large project of this type there will be some negative impact on the environment, but sometimes the project is necessary for the physical improvement and the good of the country. And there will always be an outcry, especially if there is some degree of negative impact. All I wanted to hear was how the Minister and his Government were prepared to deal with these issues. But was he given a fair chance? NO!

And yes, Mr. Writer, anyone would have asked the same questions George asked, but with tact would have gotten more out of the interview. George, by quoting little pieces of the Ivor Jackson Report and asking a question, meant nothing if he refused to let his guest answer. To me, like many others, it was a waste of prime airtime listening to an interviewer answering his own questions. What did we gain from it? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

“The Writer’s” letter referred to my letter writing as an “Andy Rooney attempted style approach” … whatever that is. Well, maybe he should watch Rooney’s programme more and he would conclude that most of what Rooney says makes good sense. And many people, some senior journalists, who watched George’s programme and then read my letter in SEARCHLIGHT of November 26, thought it was biting, but fair comment, and something they themselves wanted to say. But then again “The Writer” seems to be losing marks for argument’s sake.

Mr. Writer, just read your last paragraph again, for it makes absolutely no sense at all, and the smack of arrogance screams your identity. At first, I thought, maybe if you feel so strongly about issues and want people to see the real picture, you should begin by removing your cloak and dagger and unmask yourself; but then again you may only embarrass yourself publicly!

One would hope, though, that George would take this criticism in the spirit it was intended and use it to improve Inside Out.

Jude Knight

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