At last, I have moved my weblog to noulakaz. The transition is slow as I am learning to use WordPress. The main reason for moving from Blogger is the possibility of having permanent pages and increased control over the site’s content. But I’m still learning so it might take some time before things really settle down…
It is now confirmed that some 60 journalists have met to discuss the ways and means of forming an association. According to yesterday’s issue of Le Mauricien (L’express has also published the news), they met on Wednesday and it was Nad Sivaramen and Sedley Assone who started it all.
I’m glad the idea is taking shape and more so to see that even the chief editors of the two rivals L’express and Le Mauricien attended the meeting. Gilbert Ahnee in fact devoted his editorial to that meeting, expressing his appreciation of the initiative (as well as his qualms about how to go about it and the obstacles they may meet). He also mentioned the creation of a mailing list/forum and a blog.
Soho, let’s wait and see whether any common ground can be found. Good luck.
It’s been some time since I last posted on this blog. There are multiple reasons for this: I had to finish a consultancy report, the kids and us were on holiday for a week, and I guess I had sort of disconnected / plugged out…
I however want to report on a radio show I was invited to on R1 on Thursday 27th July. The show is called ‘Controverses’ and was hosted by Francoise Marechal-Charlotte. The programme was devoted to the local media, more specifically to the Media Trust. The other guests were journalists Henri Marimootoo and Sedley Assone.
Death of the Media Trust?
The starting point for the discussion was the alleged programmed death of the Media Trust, which still has no chairman as the PM has not yet designated one though the media reps had already been elected in January. This has handicapped the Media Trust Board which cannot operate as usual.
This lack of decision by the PM together with the announced proposal of a Media Commission Bill is prompting journalists to say that the govt wants to punish the press and drastically restrict its freedom.
As an external observer, I analysed this as a strategy of govt to frighten the press. As I pointed out in an earlier post, this seems to be working to some extent as some journalists are sometimes unduly overcautious in reporting even official speeches and parliamentary questions.
I don’t know what will be the content of the Media Commission Bill (if there is one) but definitely, we will have to be careful that it does not stifle the press (though some regulating would be desirable, specially to protect the interests of ordinary citizens).
Self-regulation not control
However I truly think that it is high time for the press to show its goodwill (and thereby avoid the ‘necessity’ of imposed control from above) by creating its own association or institution to discuss and establish codes of conduct, provide mechanisms for handling complaints and ensure redress and also incidentally raise funds for training programmes. Self-regulation is always better than imposed laws.
I also pointed out that the Media Trust is currently receiving only some 2 million rupees annually from govt, basically to fund seminars and training of journalists. Surely, if the Media Trust were really to die, that would not be the end of journalism in Mauritius.
The need for common ground
The problem is that journalists of the local press itself have not been able to communicate amongst themselves (ironic, isn’t it?). Though diversity of approaches and beliefs is certainly desirable to provide a large array of choices on the market (and thus ensure multiple voices are heard), some common ground has got to be found to ensure freedom of speech that is also respectful of all.
I heard recently that some journalists have met to discuss the creation of an association. Could it be that my suggestions have been heard? I hope the initiative is a serious and solid one…
One of the major headlines in the local media these days concerns the ‘Bookie affair’. To recap, some 7 CD-ROMs were seized at bookmaker Joomun’s place. These are being progressively ‘decoded’ and apparently, important public figures’ names appear on these lists of illegal bets (illegal as they are not declared to the Income Tax and they are done ‘a credit’).
Yesterday (Tuesday 11th July), at National Assembly, the Opposition Leader, Nando Bodha, asked the acting PM, Vasant Bunwaree whether the name of two ministers of the present govt were on these lists and he mentioned the names of the ministers. Of course, Bunwaree denied the info and there was an uproar in the majority. That’s normal…
But what’s not that normal (any lawyers or people from a legal background who can help out?) is that the a major part of the media are deliberately avoiding mentioning the names of the ministers. Most probably because the PM, Navin Ramgoolam, made a loud declaration condemning the Opposition Leader’s stance and warning people who might be tempted to make similar allegations. Yet, during the week-end, the same PM had threatened people who make vague allegations without having the courage to say the names. That’s normal again for him…
This is what Le Mauricien published yesterday:
“Bodha : As a matter of integrity and transparency et dans le souci déclaré du gouvernement de ne pas avoir recours à un Cover Up, peut-il confirmer que les noms des deux ministres … (à ce stade le leader de l’opposition cite les noms de deux ministres, dont l’un est présent dans l’hémicycle et l’autre est absent) figurent sur cette liste ?”
And Radio Plus and Radio One also adopted the same strategy of not citing the names. However, it was easy to figure out that one of the ministers is Asraf Dulull as he gave a press conference to deny Bodha’s accusations and extracts of the conference were aired by the radio stations.
Could it be that our journalists are afraid of even quoting what was publicly uttered by a member of Parliament at National Assembly (the proceedings of which are normally accessible to the public via its website on the govt portal, though updating is delayed by a few weeks)?
Only L’express published the names in today’s paper:
“C’est le moment que choisit Nando Bodha pour lancer un pavé dans la mare. Il cite nommément deux ministres, demandant si leurs noms sont mentionnés sur la liste des parieurs illégaux. Il s’agit d’Asraf Dulull, ministre du Logement et Rama Valayden, ministre de la Justice.”
Unsurprisingly, Le Matinal did not even bother to write on the affair…
The ‘Live Chat’ show on ‘Advertising’ turned out to be a quite light programme. As the name indicates, we chat live on air 😉
The starting point for the discussion was in fact the decision of the govt to ban all adverts on billboards for alcoholic drinks as from 7th July.
As I explained to host Sadhna Teeluckdharry there are no studies that prove there’s a direct and strong impact of ads for alcohol upon people’s behaviour (in terms of buying and consumption) just like for any other type of product or service for that matter. Of course, we must acknowledge that ads have some form of influence on people (otherwise firms wouldn’t spend so much money on ad campaigns) but their influence cannot be isolated. There are a host of many other factors that are intermingling to produce the kind of society we have. We can’t put all of the blame on ads.
Will this ban on ads for alcohol help reduce drastically the consumption of alcohol? Not so sure… The approach should be more holistic (e.g. provide information and educate youngsters, provide people with the necessary cultural, social and educational framework, ensure the provision of healthy activities for all…)
La question est: ki alternative pe propose banne zom ki all boire dan bar pou passe passe zot le temps ek gagne ene kick?
We also talked about shocking ads, for instance using sexual allusions and the female body in ads. This seemed to preoccupy many of the callers who were quite confused about the ideas they wanted to express… Personally, I do not see that many shocking ads on the local scene in terms of the sexual overtones but I do see some ugly ads though as well as some vulgar media creations here and there. This can most probably be explained by advertisers’ lack of ‘finesse’ and money to invest in good intelligent creation.
All ads and all agencies cannot be put in the same bag. Some creations are quite interesting and do win awards on the regional scene, which is a sign of some progress in the mauritian adscape!
For those who might be interested, I will be on the MBC Radio’s “Live Chat” programme tonight from 5.15 to 6 p.m. The theme of the show is ‘La publicité: pour ou contre”. Sadhna Teeluckdharry is hosting the show which is meant to be interactive with questions from listeners over the phone or via chat.