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.