Our Readers' Opinions
February 12, 2016
The media bias of which the PM speaks

Editor: I took just another look at one of the latest issues dominating the news cycle, that is, the issue of media bias and the recent exchange between the Prime Minister and a reporter. I believe that the perception that some media are biased has merit. We need not point fingers as the biases are fairly obvious to the average Vincentian.{{more}}

I also feel that the Prime Minister must resist the urge to be the great political fighter he is and focus more on being the great Prime Minister he has been and can still be. Those who supported his politics for the last 15 years and counting are not swayed by the agenda of his detractors in the media and his Education Revolution has made more people discerning to resist the influence of the intellectually dishonest communicators of information.

I want however, to look at the treatment of national issues by some media. Mixed into the latest hoopla is the geothermal energy project and how it has been recently spoken of by the two opposing leaders in government, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

A proactive newsroom would have wondered some time ago what the effect of the recent record low oil prices would be on the project, which is supposed to combat the high cost of energy. Many newsrooms are however, reactive and jump on national issues only after either of the two leaders speak to them.

So on January 29, during the laying of the Estimates before Parliament, the Prime Minister stated that the project’s business plan took into account fluctuations in oil prices and that its feasibility going forward is unharmed. Most newsrooms missed this or decided it was not a big story. Then came the Leader of the Opposition at his party’s “victory” rally at Layou on January 30, when he asked if the project is still viable with today’s low oil prices.

A proactive newsroom would not have reported on the Opposition Leader’s question, then later asked the Prime Minster to react to the question in its pursuit of balance. Instead, the newsroom should have contacted the Leader of the Opposition and asked follow up questions not limited to: 1. The Prime Minister has said the project’s business plan takes into account fluctuation in prices; do you have any estimates on how the price of oil can harm the project? 2. As an economist, do you see oil prices staying low in the long term? 3. In limiting our dependence on fossil fuels, what would be the other benefits of geothermal energy? The newsroom could have also followed up with the Prime Minister and asked similar questions.

No one can argue that the Prime Minister does not consistently articulate his positions with the depth of a university professor. On the other hand, the Leader of the Opposition is given free reign by most of the media to treat national issues far apart from his training and experience. Perhaps, this is the bias of which the Prime Minister speaks.

House Bound