Archive for October 23rd, 2007

October 23, 2007

The business of communication

Back home at 10:30 from the radio programme this time Tony and I chatted with COP candidate Clyde Weatherhead who is a former trade union leader and now lawyer. He was unassuming and came across as earnest and well rooted in community which is always a good combination. I think his union background should help prepare him for the often ugly world of politics..we will see how he does in the Tunapuna seat.

Like several others in my family I gravitated naturally to communications as my preferred field. Currently I am working on ieTV 1, Radio 90.5FM and writing my assignment for Fodor’s Travel Publications. This blog, now almost two months old is purely a labour of love but then again so are my other jobs. Each medium has its own unique characteristics and I think they each serve an important function. Television is powerful and, when used correctly, can be a powerful way to get ideas across. It has entertainment value too, of course, but it is in news and current affairs it can be a force that can topple governments. It gives the fourth estate a way to not simply explain but also show what those in authority are doing or not doing. Much of this is affected by legislation governing what can be said or not said, and T&T has a woeful set of laws that needs updating badly, but even with these constraints television is able to effect change in a society.

Radio is a very different medium in that it relies on the use of intonation, and verbal content alone to get the idea across.When I first started in radio we used to scoff at television saying “radio is like TV but radio has better pictures”. In the hands of a good writer and announcer it is indeed possible to create vivid mind pictures and by doing so make the listener interested in the ideas being conveyed. Radio is also a more personal medium as the pictures created are generated in the mind of each listener and thus vary from person to person. While television requires the complete handing over of the viewers eyes and ears with radio it is possible to get news while driving or doing any variety of chores. Radio fills, in these instances, a niche that television simply cannot fill.

The written word has the considerable advantage of being endlessly re-readable. Complex ideas or deep insights into political or social issues are possible in print that would be impossible to get across in the electronic media simply because the reader can pause, start from the top , ponder, put down and then pick up again. You can take your newspaper, magazine or book into bed and read yourself to sleep – what could be more personal? Ok, fine, there are many things that are a lot more personal, but we are dealing with the media here. While my writing of late has drifted more towards the best souffle and who has the nicest pillows but I have also written more relevant things over the years…not to say cushy pillows are not relevant on some level.

Blogs or, more properly, web logs are a strange development that form part of that mysterious collection of things called “New Media”. They are essentially online diaries allowing individuals to speak to a potential audience of billions but in reality usually dozens. There is an abundance of blogs on the internet and some have huge readerships but those are normally associated with another larger organization such as CNN or the BBC when journalists extend their coverage via personal observation. The majority of blogs are uploaded by people who feel they have ideas to express, need a way to give voice to their frustration, feel they are voiceless and discover the internet gives everyone a voice and some are simply narcissistic extensions of the blogger. The wonderful thing about the internet, or, if you are George W. Bush, “internets”, is that it allows people to express themselves whatever the motivation. The key with the net is that people get to pick and choose what they read online. You may choose to read my blog or is that simple. It is simply my expression of ideas and completely personal views. I write what comes into my head after ( ok..sometimes..but rarely..during) work and whoever wants to read it does so.

I write this because while I started this blog with no comments feature ( I am really writing to myself so what would be the point?) I  was convinced by my dear friend Bruce that comments would allow readers to give a quick response and possibly allow interaction between readers scattered around the globe. I told him that it was a stretch that a handful of people could be considered a worldwide network of readers but he is always convincing despite my fears it could descend into a venting of spleen…other than my own …which was the whole point of the exercise. Today I had occasion to hide some comments which I felt were not in the spirit of the blog and best discussed via email which resulted in some recrimination via email. I am clearly not a fan of censorship and, to my mind, this being a personal exercise and not the New York Times, I feel I have a duty to monitor comments that I feel do not fit into the lighthearted spirit of this blog. I may well be wrong but if we regard this as an online diary, which to my mind it is,  and not a media house then i believe I am within my rights to hide comments that I think are not in the spirit of the thing. It really has nothing to do with opposing views and more to do with tone. The democratic nature of the internet is that anyone can post opposing ideas on their own blog. Censorship is not possible on the internet by its very nature.

I am exceedingly happy that this blog has resulted in further communication with people I have lost touch with to some extent over the years and I hope that will continue. It also serves as a happy stop-gap measure to make up for my busy schedule preventing me from communicating via email to many people. One of the reasons I came back to Trinidad was the Caribbean Free Radio blog that kept me in touch with the everyday life on the island. In fact, every page of this blog has been written on powerbook 12 inch…that I bought from Georgia when she advertised it on CFR. Jay Leno…my big Mac,  has become my secondary machine since I bought Tinkerbell.

Blogging may have dangers but my experience has been largely pleasant and I plan to continue. If people read it I am fine with that – and if they don’t and I am only talking to myself, that is fine too. If a tree falls in the forest…….

My opinions are my opinions and I need justify them to no one just as yours are yours. I say we celebrate our innate right to feel whichever way we feel on the worldwide web.