Glasshouse of Ba­bel?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Earl Bous­quet

Who is an Editor? And who is a Talk Show Host? And what does it take to be ei­ther?

In Saint Lu­cia, it all de­pends on who’s ask­ing. And who’s an­swer­ing. That’s the in­escapable con­clu­sion you’d ar­rive at – that is, if you only knew what yard­stick some (in the media) use to mea­sure who qual­ify as ed­i­tors or talk show hosts.

Tra­di­tion­ally, to qual­ify, you sim­ply had to be a host (or co-host) of a show, or an editor of a news­pa­per, ra­dio or TV news depart­ment. But now things have changed. We have ex­ces­sive ‘online’ news media to­day and the In­ter­net has be­come the next new world to never con­quer. The def­i­ni­tions of who is what in the media have also changed—and dras­ti­cally too.

To­day, some here choose to per­son­ally de­cide just who is what—and who is fit to share in a glasshouse de­bate on is­sues in the news or af­fect­ing the media. Sud­denly, se­lec­tive yard­sticks are be­ing ap­plied to dif­fer­ent talk show hosts and ed­i­tors, us be­ing graded ac­cord­ing to the dis­likes in the eyes of the be­holder.

By one lo­cal yard­stick, any­one do­ing the job but wear­ing a red or yel­low shirt can­not be de­scribed by his or her per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary or part-time job de­scrip­tion, re­gard­less. And some who fit the se­lec­tively ap­pli­ca­ble yard­stick aren’t even mea­sured, far less graded. And you won’t even get in­vited into the glasshouse if you ever hap­pen to have a quar­rel with the gate­keeper. Or you can even get thrown out. And nary a quiver there­after…

Of course, not all in the glasshouse shower be­low Ba­bel. Some ask sim­ple ques­tions like why mem­ber­ship (of this par­tic­u­lar press club) seems to be so ex­clu­sively ex­clu­sive. But even the sim­plest of ques­tions may not be re­sponded to—depend­ing on the ques­tion. And who’s ask­ing.

Strangely, some of the more ex­clu­sive card­hold­ers and gate­keep­ers at the (some­times) mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion club talk like they ac­tu­ally be­lieve the pen is might­ier as a sword than as a pen.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Like a fel­low word­smith of yore usu­ally warns to­day’s online hook­ers and look­ers too quick to read what he didn’t write (or who heard words never ut­tered): Don’t un­der­stand me too quickly.

I’m not at all holier than any of the fel­low sin­ners in the glasshouse atop the hill. But I find it dif­fi­cult to want to kneel in the same con­fes­sional booth with all.

Af­ter all, we all know there are Talk Show Hosts and talk show hosts, Pre­sen­ters and pre­sen­ters, Ed­i­tors and ed­i­tors. Not all are (and can ever be) the same. But, af­ter all, each has an au­di­ence—a view­er­ship, a lis­ten­er­ship, a read­er­ship—and/ or an online fol­low­ing, no mat­ter the size.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion with an au­di­ence is the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor here. That un­der­ly­ing fac­tor, you would think, is what makes each prac­ti­tioner who and/or what he or she is. Be­sides, each is do­ing it as a job, whether per­ma­nent or part-time, free or free­lance.

I used to think I knew what it took to qual­ify to be called, re­garded or treated as a Talk Show Host or Editor. (I ac­tu­ally think I’m both.) But it would seem (to me) that, never mind it’s made of pure glass, some of the more pris­tine be­ings therein ap­pear to be bent on ston­ing some of those locked out—and from in­side, at that. Now, that doesn’t sound (to me) like a good idea. But then, since when have good ideas sounded good?

All of which re­minds me of a real story, in a very dif­fer­ent Caribbean coun­try, about a dif­fer­ent type of glasshous­ing…

A pop­u­lar TV media baron—who thought he could turn view­ers into votes— en­tered the po­lit­i­cal fray as a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. He met the lo­cal press ahead of an up­com­ing na­tional poll and (among other things) he promised: “My Cab­i­net will be fully trans­par­ent.” A re­porter du­ti­fully asked, “How can we be sure of that?” To which the man who wanted to be Pres­i­dent of the Re­pub­lic replied, “Be­cause I’ll build it with pure glass!”

Be­lieve it or not, nei­ther the re­porter nor the politi­cian, were stoned!

What does it take to be a Talk Show Host or a jour­nal­ist these days? Clock­wise

from top left: Rick Wayne, pub­lisher of the STAR and host of TALK on DBS; Ti­mothy Poleon of RCI and Choice TV News and Talk Show Host; Ja­dia Jn Pierre, Press Sec­re­tary to the PM and host of InTouch on Choice TV; Claudius Fran­cis,

Se­nate Pres­i­dent and Host of Straight Up on HTS/Ra­dio 100 He­len FM.

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