Tuesday, 20 April 2010

An Independent News Media?

How many of you are happy that newspapers and GBC provide sufficient editorial, commentary and  analysis on current affairs in Gibraltar?  It is intriguing that after only 4 months of operation this blog has such a comparatively large following.  This indicates a hunger for informed opinion, commentary and analysis (not that everyone will agree with all that is written here)  that is not being stated by the established news media.

One of the reasons this blogger started blogging was frustration felt at the lack of editorial, comment and analysis in the news media generally.  The other reason is that at the end of last year this blogger had had 3 letters published in the Chronic in a matter of 3 or 4 months and did not feel he should abuse of the letters page further (although 2 further letters of his have  been published recently in the Chronic, in addition to what he writes in this blog).  Importantly also someone alerted him to the existence of something called a blog and explained to him how to set it up! Consequently, an ideal outlet for these frustrations was handed to him on a plate without any expectation that many people would actually read it and comment.

Back to the main subject,  the Chronic and Panorama are the best known print newspapers.  The Chronic largely blandly reports news and reproduces press releases.  Intermittently it carries interesting and well written editorials. Other than that, the only opinion or commentary that it publishes are the letters to the editor or "Opinions" contributed by various individuals.

Panorama does better and publishes more diverse views and opinions apart from also reporting news and press releases with some comment and analysis of the latter. Also, commendably, it invariably expresses its own views and opinions and those of contributors on many issues.

In addition to the Chronic and Panorama, the other print newspapers are the People, the Key and 7 days.  All are party political rags.  The first two of the GSLP and the third of the GSD.  They provide a service but each of them are party motivated and as such contain biased party propaganda.

Then we have GBC, the only civilian broadcaster in Gibraltar. It is a monopoly and so has a massive responsibility.  Broadcasting is renowned internationally as being the predominant media for news dissemination. GBC provides daily radio and TV news programs.  These news programs usually limit themselves to blandly reporting the news and repeating press release.

Fortnightly GBC broadcasts Viewpoint and Talk about Town.  The former is a serious debate based news program but which seems intent on avoiding discussing any controversial issues.  When it attempts to do so it deals with subjects with such delay that the issue is nigh on forgotten and interest has waned (for example, where is the debate on the gay age of consent issue?).  Talk about Town is a more light hearted look at current and other affairs about Gibraltar. It does not contain serious editorial comment or analysis (and, in fairness, nor is it intended to so).

Surely Gibraltar deserves better from all its news media but particularly from GBC? A democracy needs an independent and proactive news sector. It needs incisive and probing analysis. It is not right just to point at trust deeds and charters that require independence and political neutrality as an excuse for not providing editorial, comment and analysis.  The opposite is true it is that quest for independence that requires them to provide that which is so sadly lacking.

If you need to be convinced listen to the Today program every morning between 7 and 10  broadcast by the BBC (and in Gibraltar by BFBS2).  It is extraordinary how probing of issues and people (including ministers and people in the news) that program is.  GBC's charter derives from that of the BBC, so there is no reason why GBC cannot do the same. Hopefully we can look forward to a change, at least in GBC, now that a new general manager whose background is in television news has been appointed.

What do you think comment below? But please if anyone commenting is connected to any of the media mentioned have the decency to declare that interest, despite the wish to remain anonymous.


  1. Thank you Llanito World for yet another excellent piece and of course you are absolutely right. This takes us right back to independance.....there is no real independance in Gib. Who pays the piper calls the tune.

    It would be interesting to know how many hits you are getting.

    Can I ask you readers to forward a link to your blog to all their email contacts as I am sure there is lots of support out there for most of what you are saying.

  2. I am afraid that I cannot tell how many hits I am getting. All I know is that approx. 800 persons have viewed my profile!

  3. We desperately need true investigative journalism. The Chron merely regurgitates Govt or Opposition press releases without asking the other side to comment. Panorama tries harder but has to tread a fine line to avoid losing Govt funding (look what happened to Vox). The New People's Juan Carlos Perez is a good investigative journalist but isn't perhaps taken so seriously because his paper is a party political organ and has a relatively low circulation. The 7 Days? Costing us a lot of money and not worth the paper it's written on.

  4. Plato says:
    You should start a newspaper. Subject matter this blog and its contributions. Overnight you would become a multimillionaire!

    Having said this, Panorama has 'improved' over the past few months. Going in the right direction, I am so pleased to say. The Chronicle waste of time completely. GBC similarly a waste of time. The New People although political can be sometimes interesting. 7 Days useful for Guy Fawkes day.

    How much does a printing press cost? LOL

  5. Plato says:
    Hi Gibcrier

    I wonder how the GSD, GSLP and PDP are 'reacting' to this blog. I welcome any comments from anyone on this. Certainly this bog started off as a ripple, now a wave but I am certain in time it will be a tsunami!

  6. Llanito World start a newspaper? Dennis Cardona has just done so. Wonder how long it will last. All other recent attempts have fallen by the wayside: the Daily Paper, the (revived) Gibraltar Echo. No paper can succeed without Govt funding as the 7 Days and Vox have clearly shown (New People has managed to survive somehow but we don't know who's funding it or , its office in Watergardens 3).

    Monthly or quarterly magazines seems to survive - GibMag, Insight, B2B, In touch, B, Globe - but they're filled with ads. Don't think advertisers would have the appetite to support another daily or even weekly paper. Might be worth a try, though. How about it, Llanito World?

  7. Hi Plato and Mark

    In this age of the internet the expense and trouble of publishing a newspaper do not appeal. What needs to happen is to spread the word so that this blog gets more and more readers and hits so get onto all your friends, email contacts and Facebook contacts.

  8. Plato

    You forgot to mention the Libs.

  9. Plato says:
    Mark, my apology for not quoting GLSP/Lib Alliance. Typographical mistake not a deliberate one.

  10. Honney Bee says..

    One does have to have some sympathy for our journalists though - they`ve got their backs between a rock and a hard place.

    Gibraltar does deserve better though and surely with the will, it should be possible to have proper investigative journalism that is not held hostage ( by way of withdrawing govt business) every time an article is published that is not favourable to the govt - whoever that might be. Or am I just being to idealistic ?

  11. Vex populi:The late editor Eddie Campello showed the importance of a free press in a community such as Gibraltar when Vox led the campaign against drugs and the fast launches in the 1990s and eventually to the GSD breaking out of the 20% popularity ratings in which it had languished for years. In those years Charles Gomez' weekly contributions under the pseudonym UNO started people openly questioning Joe Bossano's style of government and ironically made Peter Caruana electable. Of course Caruana being Caruana, he never forgave Campello or Gomez for having accidentally engineered his election. Vox went on for a few years after Eddie's death. For a while Paul Ignacio kept it going and more recently Eddie's son in law Mr. McGrail. Does anyone know why Vox closed down? Meanwhile I am sure that Mr. Gomez regrets having lent his pen to supporting Caruana.

  12. Plato

    Sorry, thought you'd written off the Libs. Wonder how long the alliance will last if they get into Govt. For that matter, also wonder how long Danny will put up with not being anointed GSD leader-in-waiting. My guess is he's has enough already and will not stand again unless Peter C. gives him a clear indication that he will take over as leader sometime during the next term.

    Vox Populi

    Vox closed down simply due to lack of funding. Towards the end it was being written almost single-handedly by Peter Schirmer so was very exposed to Peter leaving or retiring. In the end the money simply ran out.

  13. Vex Populi says: The absence of a thriving press demeans Gibraltar. I hope that Vox can be revived. It is not the first time that it has gone off the shelves for a while. Panorama could also do with a make over and although GBC and the Chronicle are much derided I think that Dominic Searle, Stephen Neish and Clive Golt (saw his interview with Sol Seruya this week) are excellent journalists who would have done very well outside Gibraltar and have much to offer.

  14. Plato says:

    It is clear to me that Mr Caruana is now time expired. I admit that I do credit him with a significant intellectual capacity at the very least. However he is now omnipotent even to the extent that even his own ministers are afraid to act independently. Moreso they are afraid to present a matter for discussion if they remotely think that Mr Caruana will get upset with them etc etc. This I know personally and not hearsay. This does not say much for Mr Caruana or his ministers.

    So the GSD theoretically should be electing a new leader. The GSD committee must be aware of the above just like I am. So what is the problem. Who is 'good' enough to be the new leader? Mr Feetham? The word is not out in the street on this issue.

    But if we are to crticise the GSD ministers and the GSD executive committee, we must similarly criticise the GSLP/Lib alliance. Mr Bossano prior to his first election was a great Union Official, and the foundation stones of the present Gibraltar were laid by him. He created jobs, housing and wealth which the GSD has capitalised on. It was indeed unfortunate for him that he permitted the smuggling period to destroy his tenure. No doubt avant garde critics like Mr Gomez helped, the public was aghast at the the Phantoms and let us not ever forget that the Foreign Office contributed significantly to his downfall. For me he was a great man and still is, with an intellectual capacity equal to or more than Mr Caruana.

    However he too is time expired. It is a shame that the GSLP committee do not act on what the public knows and I believe they also know. What is worse, is that Mr Bossano himself should analyse the situation and come to the same conclusion. He should not be standing for election at all. Only then would the Alliance stand a chance. After all, I am convinced that the GSD are winning elections purely and simply because many electors have voted GSD purely to keep Mr Bossano out. The last election was close but I believe that the anti Bossano sentiment was a major factor in permitting the GSD victory.

    In much the same way that it is unclear whether Mr Feetham will be the next leader of the GSD, it is also unclear who the next alliance leader is likely to be or indeed whether the Alliance will continue should Mr Bossano be out of the equation.

    The PDP is as yet not a force to be considered but however I know very little about them so I will not comment more.

    Interesting times lie ahead.

    Last anonymous (21.58)

    Panorama as I said previously is improving in the nature and quality of their statements albeit still tamish . They know only too well what happened to Vox.

    Clive Golt is an excellent jounalist BUT ostracised by Mr Caruana. So much for democracy and freedom of the press. investigative jounalist. Who is going to employ him as a 'aggressive' jurnalist. No one! Mr Searle may be a fine journalist but I doubt it very much whether at this moment in time he would dare upset Mr Caruana. I do not know enough about the Chronicle's present internal problems to qualify further but perhaps you or one of the othr bloggers might expand on this.

    Mr Neish on the other hand who is a very competent and intelligent person is of these three individuals in the best position to 'attack' both the Government and the opposition. He cannot be fired etc etc and is truely independent. Maybe it is time that he did.

  15. Hello Plato

    Thank you for your contribution.

    Whilst I agree with the sentiments that you express about Mr Bossano I fear he cannot disappear entirely from the GSLP/Lib line up so quickly and radically. He has a massive personal following that he has to marshal for his successor.

    This may be best achieved by his standing down as party leader (so he would not be Chief Minister if the GSLP/Libs win the next election) but remaining in the line up. This would likely deliver to any new leader the unflinching 40% (approx) of the electorate that invariably support him.

  16. Power concentrated in the hands of one man, whose ministers are emasculated and can make no decisions without his say so; a government who undergo little or no scrutiny from the media, let alone the electorate; European descrimination legislation openly flouted; the main daily newspaper and the only broadcaster controlled to all intents and purposes by central government, unable to criticise or scrutinise; a powerful Catholic Church wielding influence on state matters. Italy? Berlusconi? No. Gibraltar: a country sliding inexorably toward the true definition of an elected dictatorship. Let's try and stop this right here, right now.

  17. You must have all seen the poll in today's Chron by now. GSLP Libs ahead by a wide margin but large number of 'don't knows'. Both Bossano and Caruana are past their sell-by dates as leaders, which leaves Fabian P. Danny and - dare I say - Keith in the running to lead Gib. However, the PDP's share is so low that it would have to forge an alliance with either the GSLP Libs or the GSD if it were to have any hope of getting even one seat in Parliament. Which brings me to the question: why has PDP Deputy Leader Nick gone all quiet of late?

  18. A good day to you, 'Llanito World'

    Burning the midnight oil eh...

    First things first. If you want to know how many people visit your blog daily, cast your eye on this very helpful explanation http://www.eblogtemplates.com/how-to-install-google-analytics-on-blogger/

    (just copy and paste the http address into the address bar of your browser if for some reason the link above is not active)

    The GSLP/Libs point out that we need a change because Caruana has been in power for as long as he has. If said GSLP/Liberal collective had grown the spine it needed/needs to at the appropriate time and had taken steps to remove Bossano after successive failed (sometimes embarassing) election campaigns, they'd have at least a modicum of credibility. It is pathetic in the extreme that the GSLP/Lib alliance have continued to bow to the wishes of the so-called 'eminence' of Mr Bossano, an 'eminence' incapable of grasping the very real probability that that it has been his very presence at the party since his ousting from Government in 1996 that has kept the GSLP from power in successive elections.

    The he was the one who endorsed the lawlessness the community endured, in the name of our financial security and that his party has been unable at best, or unwilling at worst to remove him from the leadership begs the following two questions.

    Exactly who's interests have Bossano and, by implication, the GSLP/Lib Alliance been looking to advance and protect over the last 14 years other than Bossano's own political ambition? and

    How exactly is anyone other than the staunch, practically extremist and blinded GSLP core voter expected to vote for a party-load of meak and self-effacing politicians unable to remove a leader which has cost them successive losses at the polls.

    Certainly the Tories over the years have had no issue replacing leaders when they failed. Speak to Messrs Hague, Duncan-Smith, and Howard and I'm sure they'll be happy to explain how the process isn't a pretty one, but look where they are today!

    I will be entertained come the next election whenever the suggestion that it’s time for a change is uttered, particularly if that message comes from the GSLP.

    All the very best

  19. the time has come for change in all the political parties in Gib. Just wish that someone carasmatic and whom one can trust would put his name down for the next ellection.

  20. Plato says:

    LLanito World,
    Should Mr Bossano be included in the line up, it is the best thing for the Alliance not only because the 'emotive and conflicting ' aspect of the Chief Minister post is eliminated and the new leader to be (Mr Picardo, an excellent choice) will benefit from having this battle hardened veteran with him. Joe Bossano in my opinion is formidable and an asset to Mr Picardo and the rest of the Alliance.

    As to the GSD and I refer to this morning's Chronicle poll, assuming that the poll is truely representative of the feeling in Gibrlatar then the GSD has its days numbered.
    I myself welcome this. What is interesting is that within the Alliance, there were individual choices for the leadership. This suggests that these individuals have qualities and exhibits dynamism within the Alliance. In contrast within the GSD only Mr Caruana was considered for leader. This can only mean that those GSD supporters believe that the rest of the GSD line up is pure window dressing and has no substance and unworthy of being a possible successor to Mr Caruana. Well, we all already know this.

    So there is going to be a change if this encouraging trend continues.

  21. Isn't the difficulty with newspapers in Gibraltar that they have such a limited market that they are dependent on advertising rather than sales, and, most specifically, government advertising?

    If a government of any party withdraws advertising from a newspaper for political reasons, a news paper may have legal remedies.

    Depending on the value of the advertising, it may be that public procurement rules will assist. And all government´s decisions must be made for a proper purpose. If a government minister makes what would otherwise be a lawful decision, but with the improper motive of intending to harm the newspaper, a claim for misfeasance in public office may lie.

    Of course, a newspaper that runs out of money to carry on printing may find legal remedies too expensive to pursue.

  22. Brown Cow said

    It is a shame that the post of Chief Executive of GBC was not formally advertised.

    The GSD expresses a "wish" that he be the CEO and a few weeks later he is.

    I am sure this must constitute a breach of our own employment laws (unless its one law for the Government and another for the common muck, as for Town Planning matters).

    Even if it doesn't surely the Government/GBC Board want to be seen to be fair, and have something of a transparent application process.

    If Mr King's successor is appointed in the same way (Government decree) then we can look forward to all potential local applicants being neutered by self interest for the next three years, just like they have been neutered for the last three years for the same reasons.

  23. UNO

    On Friday an extract from the Chronicle in 2004 will be posted here. You will be well amazed with the guts of local journalists.

  24. The whole King thing is probably one the most insulting things to Gibraltarian intelligence during the GSD Reign.

    PC commissions a Review and contacts Mr King to undertake this. No problem, but should this decision have been taken by him?? Isn't there a Minister responisble for Media / broadcasting??? Shouldn't they hjave gone out and sought a few alternatives rather than just appoint Mr King?? No offence to Mr King, and I don't doubt his competence, but surely it would have been fair for this Review to have been advertised and the best from the selection chosen to conduct it. But anyhow, perhaps PC promised mr King this on one of their encounters in Sotogrande where it seems Mr King has been resident since his departure from the Murdoch-vehicle, Sky News.

    Anyhow, the Review happens and the Report kept secret. it seems this is in order to save face because it makes some comments damaging to various individuals! fair enough - nobody wants a name and shame!

    PC "proposes" to the Good Board of GBC that Mr King be considered for the post of CEO. And 2-3 shorts days later, PING! The Board "DECIDE" to appoint Mr King CEO of GBC!!!!!!!!!! How INSULTING!!!! true caruana style - He Dictates and everybody follows suit!!!! What an embarrasing BOARD! it seems "que no hay c*jones!" Why didn't they ADVERTISE the post and keep Mr King "in consideration" if they thought he was valid,until various professionals were looked at?????? On top if it, they are blatant about it, shwoing little self respect, "poca hombria" and insulting the whole of Gibraltar's intelligence in the process!!! The worst, NOBODY in Gibraltar seems to have challenged this and perservered with it!! Not even the Opposition!

    New GBC - Independent????? it seems that on his first day at work, King REPORTED to No6 rather than broadcasting House! WHY???? GBC is merely funded by the Govt but is meant to be independent! No doubt Mr Caruana "ya le leyo la cartilla al ingle'"

    Independent News?? No way!