EDITORIAL:  Who are we?

Photo taken from: writinglives.org

OBSERVER Media Group strives — unapologetically — to be your primary news and information choice, in large measure because we believe we have earned and maintained your continuing respect, trust and support.

Within that informal compact lies our obligation to keep pace and meet your heightened expectations of our role in the Caribbean news business. It is a role that strives to serve a diverse array of audiences in the immediate region, as well as Antiguans and Barbudans residing abroad who want to keep tabs on the home front.

There are also millions of tourists and expats who have spent some of their lives with us and want to check in occasionally to see what’s happening. Thus, every day we evaluate our news product with one key question in mind: Where do we want to go, and how will we get there?

It’s a haunting conundrum for news professionals in the Caribbean and indeed throughout the world as we sadly witness media outlets closing doors because their efforts have failed to move with the punches to avoid the knockout blow of lost advertising revenue and audience erosion.

So, we evaluate our news product against this question of journalistic destiny every day.

The answer to the first part of the question is the simplest one to answer. Every day, all day, we know we are your immediate source for true, honest, accurate, credible and reliable news and information that matters to you.

Our job, plain and simple, is to give you news you need to make informed decisions in a democratic society. In the trade, it’s called “Journalism 101”, and as journalists and patriotic lovers of our country, we endeavour to make that obvious with every word we write and speak.

As for the second part of the question— how do we get and stay there— therein lies the rub. The bedevilling influence and impact of technology on our daily lives comes rapid fire. As soon as we settle in and master the latest new thing, here comes another.

In the media business, we have to serve distinct audiences. Many of you prefer to hold a newspaper in your hand, relying upon it to fill you in. Some, simultaneously, have radio and television broadcasts in the background because they know that the broadcasters are bringing breaking news. Still others are on social media, devouring a whole other type and quality of information.

No matter the medium, our goal remains meeting you where you are and keeping us as your preference for news that matters.

Wesley Gibbings, president of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, said recently that, “Today, what we are witnessing seems to be the emergence of a capacity to occupy a multiplicity of dimensions simultaneously through communications processes that are dramatically changing prevailing notions of how information flows, relatively unmediated, from person to person and from place to place.”

Added to the challenge to remain competitive in the industry and continue to serve you well, we seek to hire the most experienced journalists available while training cub reporters, editors and producers. Our company proudly holds its own in that business environment where, as Gibbings observes, ”Newsroom operations are shrinking, budgets are being cut, investments in new technology are being put on hold and the Big Bang of liberalisation in the 1980s and ‘90s is imploding.”

While our goal is to always serve you well by hiring the most qualified industry professionals available and pay them accordingly, it’s a costly one and the playing field in the region is not level. In a pilot survey conducted in 2011 and 2012, UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics revealed that four CARICOM nations have “… no qualifications required by law/regulation for an individual to practice as [a] journalist.”

In that vein and assisting us to remain on the cutting edge, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority convenes “media clinics” to keep industry professionals abreast of technological changes within the industry.

Be that as it may, we need no rules to help guide our commitment to professionalism. And so, like Muhammad Ali, we float like a butterfly but we must dodge the bee sting of a negative bottom line. We have intentionally and forthrightly decided to hire the best gatekeepers and purveyors of information who are your vigilant and active watchdogs—going where you are too busy to go—to give you the law of the land so that you can analyse and evaluate the unfettered facts for themselves in furtherance of democracy.

In sum, we respect the time and attention you give to every word you read or hear from us in service to you 24/7/365.

Unwaveringly, we remain committed to you. Why? Because at the end of every day, we can comfortably ask ourselves, “Who are we?” and boldly reply, “We are you.”

Please continue to support our work which we do on your behalf.  Our survival and your democracy depends on it.

We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions 

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