Friday, 15 July 2011

The Press and Democracy

Recent events in England that have led to the closure of the News of the World have focussed attention on the press. It may have all come to public attention and scrutiny because of celebrity phone hacking but it has all led to more serious allegations of hacking. These involve alleged payments to the police. it has also and now become a debate about relationships and connections between the press and politicians. The debate has consequently evolved into analysing the functions of the press in a democracy. It is this debate that I find interesting from a local perspective. Is Gibraltar's press incisive and questioning enough to sustain democracy? Before I attempt to answer that question I need to briefly analyse what the functions of the "fourth estate", the press, are or should be. Also its importance to democracy.

The press does not simply have a two dimensional function. The immediately obvious dimensions of the press are to entertain, to inform and to stimulate economic activity. Entertain with crosswords, other games, cartoons, humourous stories and most importantly sport. The stimulation of economic activity is achieved by advertising. Informing is probably the most important function. Without information, especially about government and politicians, there is little or no democracy because politicians cannot be held to account without an informed public. This is what I consider to be the third dimension.

Manipulation of information or the perception of an ability to manipulate information, into or away from press publication or the emphasis given to it by opinion, undermines the credibility of the press. If the credibility of the press is undermined the credibility of democracy itself will not stand up to scrutiny. Voters will vote on the basis of distorted opinions based on partial or outright propagandist information. Governments will be elected on the basis of partially biased votes manipulated by those politicians who at any given moment in time have power and/or influence that they can exert over the press.

The reason is simple: the press influences and creates debate, opinion and thinking. It does this in the main amongst those of us who do not generally hold strong opinions (undecided voters) or do not hold strong opinions on specific issues. For example, it is most unlikely that the press will change the mind of someone who, on religious grounds objects, to any form of sex outside marriage and, then, only within a heterosexual relationship. However, that same person may well have his/her opinion influenced on another subject, like which political party is more likely to protect against a change of the law that will allow gay marriages. If the information published by the press is purposely or inadvertently wrong on that subject, then the adverse effect on democracy becomes palpably obvious.

It is the obligation of the press to be inquisitive, in a responsible manner, in its search for the truth. It is its obligation to seek out wrongdoers and corruption in every sense of the word. Especially wrongdoers and corrupt persons who and practices that undermine and can destroy democracy. This is a solemn duty owed by the press to any community. What is presently being criticised in the UK is the methodology adopted by the press to achieve this objective.

The reasons for the criticism is that intrusive practices, allegedly in breach of the criminal law,  were adopted. These interfered with people's right to privacy, which outweigh the right of free speech and so the freedom of the press.  As Mark Twain puts it "There are laws to protect the freedom of the press's speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press". It is this debate that is now being had in the UK. It is about what steps can be taken, not only to protect people's privacy, but, more importantly, to delineate the relationship between politicians and the press. Parliament will have the responsibility of legislating carefully to protect without stifling the requirement that a free press is essential to the survival of democracy.

In a perverted way what a good place for the UK to be in.  Much of Gibraltar's press has not even arrived at a stage where such a debate is necessary. Not that I advocate having to reach that extreme and allegedly criminal destination that some parts of the UK press have arrived at. My point is simpler than that. We have two main press organs, GBC and the Gibraltar Chronicle. Both either directly or indirectly funded with public funds. There is absolutely nothing wrong with publicly funded press, after all that is exactly how the BBC is funded. There is a lot wrong, however, if the general perception is that because the source of funding is the government neither of these important press organs are as incisive or as informative as they should be, especially in terms of wrongdoing and corruptions. There is soemthing wrong if there is a perception of bias.

Each of GBC and the Gibraltar Chronicle are ultimately controlled, call it governed, by independent boards, in the latter case, I understand, by trustees. It is these bodies that should provide the primary defensive line against attack and or influence of journalists by governments. The responsibility of these governing body should equate to the repsonsibility that judges and, in relations to appointments, the Judicial Services Commission, have to maintain independence. They should apply the same level of safeguards, both institutional and legal, as the 2006 Constitution provides to the judiciciary.

Persons in power or seeking power will have little or no qualms in exerting their power to massage news for their own selfish benefit. If these governing bodies fail in their duty or fall under the influence of a government or other politicians, journalists lose their primary defence against being unduly and unfairly influenced. I add immediately that they retain their personal moral fibre, principles and ethics as journalists but that can be a lonely position to maintain.

My question is do the governing bodies that I mention feature at all in the eyes of the public? I hate to say but the answer is a rotund no. This is, importantly, unfair on the journalists that work in each of GBC and the Gibraltar Chronicle because it can leave them feeling unprotected. It is also not doing right by the public because perceptions of partiality and bias on the part of either of GBC and/or the Gibraltar Chronicle are more difficult to dispel. Additionally the ambition of journalist to uncover wrongdoing and corruption can be dampened by a feeling that adequate and robust protections will not be available to him/her should the proverbial hit the fan.

There are other press publications in Gibraltar. The Panorama that provides sterling criticism of government, despite the perception by some of partiality because of family connections with the Leader of the Liberal party. A perception that on an objective reading of Panaroma's content is probably unfair because its content is eclectic. There is also, now, Vox online, which is also critical. There is the New People, which suffers by its admitted close connection with the GSLP. Finally we have 7 Days but again, whilst not admitted, this is clearly a GSD partial publication. All of these provide some balance to the discerning but they do not detract from the reality that GBC and the Gibraltar Chronicle are the main organs for the dissemination of news and so the main opinion formers.

All in all not a great state of affairs only made worse by Gibraltar's size. Size dampens the desire to overly or unnecessarily harm someone due to personal or business connections and/or ties. These considerations or influences can also influence what is published. This is even more reason to, first make the governing bodies of each of GBC and the Chronicle perceptively more robust and independent and secondly to achieve electoral and parliamentary reforms.


  1. Que te gusta menea la mierda roberto.

  2. The Golt Syndrome?

  3. How sadly typical of the low democratic expectations of so many that debate on important issues should be said to be shit stirring (anon @12.10) Grow up Gibraltar! We must be the most unspohiticated people in Europe.

  4. No picha esque en Gibraltar no hay democracia, estamo to acribillao y nos faltan mas opiniones. Pero aqui que pasa, el pallaso de anon 14:46 me dice que somos unsophisticated? Tu que ta tonto ovque te pasa? If you're looking for unsophisticated I suggest you get out if Gib for a bit.
    Lo que somos, es una gran manada de pansistas.
    Y Roberto, stick to the day job man..:)

  5. Anonymous at 20:53

    I must be doing something right to deserve that comment :) I think I will rely on my day job for money and keep this as an enjoyable hobby ... greta fun!

  6. Eso Robert shut it mate!!

    To hell with freedom of expression and all of that...............:P lololol

    My oh my!! How undemocratic!


  7. Bob's Blog is a breath of fresh air. The Gibraltarian media panders to a humourless, unsophisticated repetitive section of Gibraltraian society. Not all Gibraltraians are unsophisticted as can be seen from the wit and depth of comment displyed by some in Bobs Bog. Apart from the crushing bores who keep bleating on about who moved from what party to which when,there are many fine minds in Gibraltar.

  8. Robert

    I am sure that none of the publications that you have mentioned would censor or distort the much awaited detailed and robust response from Mr Picardo to the Chief Minister's attack on Mr Picardo's comments on the Budget.

  9. Anonymous at 11:00

    I am sure that you are right, nor do I suggest otherwise but there is more to the press than just regurgitating press releases.

    It is also a disgrace for Gibraltar that politics has been taken to the level of mutual accusations of lying. The public should be given the wherewithal by which it decides who is lying. That is the job of the press. Investigate analyse and inform so that the public can come to a view.

    There is no way anyone can decide who is lying based on party partial accusations and counter-accusations. It is for the press to step in and inform so that a debate on substance can be had. Otherwise it is like watchin two children accusing each other of cheating at a game. Politicians should be ashamed of the spectacle that they are involving themselves in.

    I think our politicians should GROW UP and stop behaving like SPOILT CHILDREN on a playground!

  10. Ohu picha the statement of the month so far "Politicians should Grow up and stop behaving like spoilt children" and from none other than mr tantrum who throws his toys out the pram whenever Caruana opens his mouth. No doubt cornflakes will jump in now and have a brown nosing moment.

  11. confused-dot-com16 July 2011 at 12:05

    Robert Im sorry but are you not placing too much responsibility on the 'press'... ?

    I mean the Opposition is just as obligated to uncover stories, corruption, scandals, issues. Is that not why we voted them in?


  12. Robert@11:15

    Whether we like it or not investigative journalism is extremely expensive and in Gibraltar's case unsustainable given the limited size of the "inelastic fund base". Investigative journalism could only be financially viable if circulation increased as a result of it therefore boosting the demand for advertising.

    I doubt whether an affordable journalist would be more capable of investigating and analysing than any conscientious member of the public. The font of the information is, after all, similar.

    However, "The Press" does accept Letters to the Editor and more selectively Articles, Opinions and Comments that may be accessed by any literate member of the public. Anyone is free to expose any pertinent details that throws light on the mutual accusations of lying by the politicians involved. Access to the press is not restricted to the political parties.

    Of course, a journalist could always hack the politicians' phones and e-mails in order to get to the truth. I think that I have just had a very original idea!!

  13. Anon@12:05

    Not only do I agree with you on the duties of the opposition but I would also add that the taxpayers pay for them.

  14. Anonymous 11:47

    "Tantrum" means "an outburst of bad temper or petulance" I believe that I show neither on this blog unless criticism that is supported by argument can be said to fall within this definition. I believe that the word best describes the behaviour of senior politicians.

    Throwing toys out of the pram? I believe that i use very carefully chosen language, not like the recent language used by our senior politicians. I do not accuse of lying or deceit ... I try and argue and justify what I say. I believe that I do it successfully. I accept that there will be those who disagree with me.

    If this was a debate, I would be asking you to justify your accusations against me. By the way is the toy PRC? If so the solution is in his hands. He has the power to put right what is wrong ... no one else yet.

    Anonymous at 12:05 and 14:54

    I fully agree with both of you about the Oppositions duties. I make this point in my final paragraph. My analysis of the functions of the press is taken from basic analysis of what the profession of journalism is. I have not invented the wheel on that subject.

    Anonymous at 11:15

    I do not agree that the resources are not available or that investigative journalism that I advocate is expensive. It takes choosing a subject and dedicating time to it to investigate just Parliamentary debates and analyse what each party and politician has said, When I use the word corrupt I do not mean bribery or illicit acts I mean the corruption of argument and facts in Parliament. For example the accusations of lying would take a journalist several hours to read the various debates and come to an informed conclusion on what each have said. I bet none have lied. I bet it is down to the use of different arguments for different purposes. Hence the use of such vitriolic language os forbidden by parliamentary rules and practice.

  15. confused-dot-com16 July 2011 at 15:59

    Robert noted,

    But now that you have opened Pandora's Box on the issue of Press, bottom line is the following:

    Gibraltar is a small place and it is a well known fact that the Chronicle has a PAYE debt with Government. Obviously, the upshot of that is that if they want to stay afloat they are going to have scratch the Government's back and not publish unsavoury articles which would tarnish their 'reputation'. Sad but obvious I think.

    Now where is the Opposition? I could argue that given one of the Opposition member's tight links with the Panorama, they could have been maximising their resources all this time to bring to the fore Government wrongdoings etc by way of their 'daily paper'.

    Why does this not happen? They have the infrastructure, and yet all we hear are rumours about corruption and illicit practises undertaken by some of our Ministers, rather than hard facts and more investigative journalism which Opposition could very well immerse themselves in.

    If Opposition doesn't pull their finger out who the hell will?

    Guys wake up, we are not in Fleet Street, we are in the Piazza! We can't measure ourselves by the same yardstick as the London broadsheets and tabloids!

    The best we can hope for at the moment is an Opposition that puts their money where their mouths are! - except the reality is that they have proved to be a weak and feeble side, so Gd help us either way next election!

    confused-dot-chron lol

  16. The opposition has and is a disgrace over the last 16 years and confines to be so. It chooses to sit on the fence and offers no solution to it's mostly ridiculous politically motivated outbursts.
    This is particularly shown in their lack of any concern toward responsible politics, they choose scaremongeing and rumour over substance and logic. They show no ability to lead and choose to ignore their own misgivings.

  17. RV@15:34

    When you talk about "corruption of argument and facts in Parliament" you appear to have omitted the corruption of facts in Facebook Podcasts and Twitter.

  18. RV@15:34


    You state:-

    "For example the accusations of lying would take a journalist several hours to read the various debates and come to an informed conclusion on what each have said".

    Why do you think that members of the public are unable to read and analyse the details of a debate and arrive at an equally informed conclusion? The source of the information is exactly the same yet the "informed conclusion" as reported by a journalist could be suspect.

  19. Anonymous at 18:35

    Agreed ... and in party press releases.

    Anonymous at 19:09

    Because that is the profession of journalism read my piece. They should go behind press releases to inform. If any member of the public wishes to do it, of corse he can. The material is available. Most members of the public are usually too busy doing their day jobs. But you are right anyone who wishes can do it.

  20. Tyrone Duarte says:

    Hello Robert, I have been away for a while, but thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece on the CM's very less than forensic comments against the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. I particularly agreed with your references to Erskine May.

    On the subject of press freedom all I can say is that the Chronicle does have an independant journalist or two, regardless of perceptions.

    However, Mr Oliva's cheerleadering pieces for the current administration make one cringe. Some of the comment is valid, but because it is not delivered in a neutral tone, what one would refer to as an "Economist" style, it loses all authority. Pseudo-psycology-cum-philosophy is also, to my mind, unhelpful in explaining matters to the public. Perhaps matters will improve when Mr Searle returns from leave, if has not already done so.

  21. Why does the GoG advertise its official notices in the 7 Days but not in the New People?

    Does the GSD honestly expect us to believe the & Days is not as affiliated to them as the New People is to the GSLP?

  22. Tyrone@07:50

    I may not always agree with Mr Oliva's "Opinion" and I have taken him to task in the past. However, I have revisited his latest article "Shooting from the Hip" 28/07/2011 and found the delivery to be tone neutral and lacking a cringe factor.

  23. Anon@09:55

    Good question. Perhaps the opposition should ask the GoG for an explanation.

  24. Tyrone Duarte:


    I was not referring to a single piece of work on the part of Mr Oliva, but a general trend. You will also note that I do state that some of the commentary is valid.

    As regards the specific article you refer to,I happen to agree with Mr Oliva that there is a law and order problem in Gibraltar.

    However, I would add that I have my reservations about the capacity of elements of the RGP to deal with the issue, and in some cases I think they exacerbate it - a veces hay mas chulos en la palma ke afuera.

    I would also add that part of the problem rests with the socio-economic gap that exists in Gibraltar, whether one wishes to ascribe that to ongoing government policies, or whether it is symptomatic of global trends, is a matter for debate.

    Before I am accused of excusing criminal behaviour: I do support the RGP and "ke le den al ke le levante la mano a otro o robe". I hope that is clear enough.

  25. An example from yesterday's chronicle highlights their need to deliver uncomfortable news whilst ensuring the Government's image is not tarnished.

    Both beach-goers to, and the residents of Catalan Bay speak of little else these days than the dust coming off the sand this year.

    The Chronicle attempts to address it with an article headlined by:


    and yet the opening paragraph states:

    "LIFE’S A SUMMER BEACH: Gibraltar's much improved beaches and beach parking facilities are in full swing as the summer season with its soaring temperatures continues its slow and relaxed rhythm enjoyed by bathers young and old alike. "

    How can Government be investigating the dusty sand of an 'improved' beach?

    I know of a few families with very young children, who have moved to Camp Bay, as the sand is too dusty for their little ones to play in, and yet according to this 'the young and old' are enjoying the 'improved' beach.

    Confused, I read on...

    the second paragraph gives a totally different picture:

    "Gibraltar Government is investigating complaints by members of the public that Catalan Bay has been affected by inordinate amounts of dust which was becoming an annoyance to bathers"

    So what's it to be? improved facilities enjoyed by young and old alike or annoyed bathers affected by inordinate amounts of dust?

    Then we are told works to remedy the problem started yesterday. Problem? If there is a problem, then we cannot fly the 'improved' flag, can we?

    An unknown government spokesman then goes on to reassure us the dust has been analysed, and there is no contamination so its okay.
    Okay for whom? asthmatics? young babies? the elderly with respiratory diseases?
    So maybe the 'young and the old' are not really enjoying the beach as much as the first paragraph leads us to believe?

    In the last paragraph we are told that:

    "In order to eliminate the unpleasant and nuisance aspects of this dust" (of the 'much improved' beach?), the Government is going to wash away the dust, out of hours over a few days starting Monday (not Saturday as previously announced a few paragraphs up!)

    Out of hours? By whom? A private company? How much more is this experiment going to cost?

    Why are these questions not asked?!

  26. anon @ 10:06, unless I happen to be in the X-ray Department waiting room or any other Government Department waiting room for that matter, I rarely bother with the 7 Days so I wouldn't normally be aware of the high level of attention it regularly receives from the GoG. My information comes from reading in the Chronicle, session of Parliament after session of Parliament, questions asked by the Opposition with reference to the amount paid by the GoG in advertising to the 7 Days, and the large amounts quoted by the GoG in reply.

  27. Anon 10:55. At least this Govt goes out of it's way to address things and seeks to improve our daily lives on all counts. 16 years ago the headlines may have read b
    "beach goers to afraid to take a dip amongst fast launches" the Govt of the day then just stood by and watched, whilst we endured deaths, increaseD illegal activity and general disorder everywhere.
    But yes let's accuse the Gib Chronicle if not amplifying everything like the Panorana does in order to misrepresent reality so that you can spank your monkey over the issue.

  28. Trevor@10:35

    You said @07:50:-

    "Some of the comment is valid, but because it is not delivered in a neutral tone, what one would refer to as an "Economist" style, it loses all authority".

    I pointed out an article by Mr Oliva delivered in what I believe is in neutral tone. As for chearleadering I can only say that cringe is in the mind of the beholder.

    I am not commenting on the state of law and order in Gibraltar because Robert's article is about The Press and Democracy.

  29. anon @ 11:11 is that your only argument?

    so by implication, asthmatics, young babies, the elderly and others with respiratory diseases must suffer in silence because 16 years ago the fast launch activity was also dangerous to the public?


    'This Government goes out of its way'? Excuse me?
    This Government is there to serve the public, mate, and if its cocked up with the beaches with its very costly, last minute 'experiment', then fixing it for the benefit of the people its there to serve, is its DUTY, not going out of its way! (even more now)

  30. anon @ 11:11, do you write for the 7 Days? LOL

  31. Anon@11:06

    You forgot the large amounts paid to Panorama. Must slipped your mind.

  32. Not at all, anon @ 11:48, whereas the 7days is a affiliated to a party as the New People, the Panorama is as 'free of political bias' as the Chronicle!

  33. "I may not always agree with Mr Oliva's "Opinion" and I have taken him to task in the past. However, I have revisited his latest article "Shooting from the Hip" 28/07/2011 and found the delivery to be tone neutral and lacking a cringe factor."

    I too noticed that Paco has suddenly adopted a "neutral tone" - now that it's dawned on him that the GSD is likely to lose the general election. Paco's no fool!

  34. Anon@11:22

    You seem to forget that the government of the time actively encouraged the fast launches by maintaining that the participants were not breaking the law in Gibraltar. What is more, this dangerous and shameful activity was over a long period of time. It was only ended when its DUTY was forced on them by a public demonstration.

    The present government did not mix the dust with the sand in order to endanger the lives of asthmatics, young babies, the elderly and others with respiratory diseases.

    I hope this helps towards deboggling your mind.

  35. Anon 11:22. You accuse others of having no argument. Maybe you are spanking that monkey a little too much.
    I happen to go to the Caleta and my wife is asthmatic as is one of my kids, at no stage have either of them been affected by the sand or the dust that kicks up. I am delighted however that thus Govt reacts to issues and address' issues of concern. It also give facts and chooses not to distort facts or blatantly lie in order to gain political advantage.

  36. No it doesn't at all, anon @ 12:06, you see, I can't speak for the Government of 16 years ago because I couldn't even vote 16 years ago. I can only comment on the actions of the Government of today, and if, as an asthmatic, I spent one day in Catalan Bay, and had to use my inhaler after months of not needing it, my consolation cannot be that 16 years ago you felt threatened by a fast launch.

    As for the famous public demonstration, was that the one Mr Holliday MP and Mrs Del Agua MP organised? How convenient for the GSD, then in Opposition!

  37. anon@12:06 so you are happy to sit your asthmatic child (and wife) all summer in a dusty beach that could affect his breathing only to justify your delight in the present Government?

  38. Anon@11:53

    I agree with Robert that Panorama provides sterling criticism of government, despite the perception by some of partiality because of family connections. I, for one, find it an essential source of information that helps me balance my views.

    As for the indirect funding through official notices of New People and 7Days I believe that the opposition should ask questions of the government demanding explanations.

  39. Anon@12:29

    You seem to have an eclectic memory. You cannot speak for the government in charge 16 years ago and yet you seem to vaguely remember the politicians that, supposedly, organised the public demonstration that ended the fast launch activity.

    I am not surprised that your mind, if you are the same anon, is boggled whether with or without a .com

  40. Anon 12:34. If they were being affected there is no doubt we would not go. One might suggest that either I'm not concerned about my family and prefer to support this Govt or there is some serious politically motivated bullshit being stirred by you and others. Given the GSLP's history, I firmly believe the latter.

  41. Anon@12:34

    If I were you I would go to another beach until the pertinent department clears the dust. You must look after your wife and child whichever government is in power.

  42. I see, the dust in Catalan Bay is politically motivated! That explains it! Poor Mr Britto, his last big public act is Government before retiring is being thwarted by the evil-doers of the GSLP! LOL

  43. The-mind-boggles, great points :)

    The Chronicle has a tendency to contradict itself in its very own articles. A bad "habit" that in my humble opinion should concern us all.

    From my perspective it seems that whilst they are obliged to quote stats and facts they do so in a manner that is misleading (as has been noted on this same blog).

    Those who know me will tell you I am not a big fan of Oliva or Searle(for a number of reasons), even though I do enjoy their articles at times.

    Ever since the government financially "assisted" the chronic their articles have become seemingly more and more biased (pro GSD), to the point where in my eyes they have lost ALL credibility. Furthermore the manner in which Oliva is allowed (by Searle) to belittle our own people whilst "pimping" up our Spanish neighbours, is down right shameful and a direct breach of a writers code of ethics. Or so I believe.

    In this piece RV you have highlighted some very interesting and factual points.

    Awareness is certainly the key.


  44. Tyrone Duarte:

    K, isn't pimping a crime?! Great term when referring to the propaganda role of the media. I don't think propaganda has much to do with ethics.

    A los enamorados de Espanya lo unico ke le digo es ke tomen nota - this is Spain:

    La espanya Balkanica anyone?

  45. Just back from la Caleta. No one died yet. No asthma sufferers with petitions or riots. In fact the beach was pretty loaded even with the gusts blowing up the contaminated sand.
    La turbo passed by too, remember the good old days when it used chase our cool young lads and provide our tourists wIth live entertainment? Que guapo man!

  46. When Picardo said that he would find it hard to fill Joe's big political boots, does he mean after he tore him to pieces as head boy in bayside or before? Or was it after he showed Danny the door that be realised Joe was such an inspiration?

  47. anon @ 19:06, not only have you just gone and spoilt the 'Picardo is Bosano's puppet' theory but you've also explained where Danny got the idea when he did the same to Keith and Nick in the GSD ;O) LOL

  48. well you know what they say anon @ 19:03, if you can't beat them, join them and so many of our tourists today do just that.
    They pop in, plonk their cars in the middle of the road, albeit with the hazards on, nip in to one of our high-class tobacco kiosks for a carton or two of fags and then join the queue to go back home, gridlocking the northern end of our highly-popular-as-a-tourist-destination Rock, but hey, think of the duty we collect as a result!

  49. Tyrone Duarte:

    Was Fabian really head boy at Bayside? I must have been stoned because I can't remember.

    As for those harking on about the launches shall we discuss the current gray arms market and Gibbraltar instead? Or maybe restaurants as covers for the profits of tobacco shipments?

  50. Are you guys really suggesting that tobacco trade today is now the reason tourists come to Gib? Si vienen en la phantom y la baja. Y si el Danny showed the door to Nick and Keith after they all planned to out Caruana. You guys could take Jeffrey Archer to the cleaners. Before we know it you'll be telling us that GPNoble, Blueprime and the ones that are under the carpet are a figment of our imagination.

  51. Tyrone Duarte says:

    Anon 2153, please share the details of the cases you mention with us.

    You are a bit behind on your knowledge of powerboats.

    Jeffrey Archer is a convicted criminal. I am not.

    I tend to be deadly serious in my trade.

  52. anon @ 21:53, there's the hordes of Spaniards who cross every day for the 2 cartons of fags and then there's the Spanish day-trippers who may extend their shopping experience to the odd bottle of perfume or packet of biscuits apart form the two cartons of cigarettes.

    Even the hallowed tourist from the cruise liners don't leave without the cartons of fags and the bottles of gin/vodka/whisky.

    So yes, part of the allure for visiting our oh-so-interesting Rock is the cheap fags!

  53. I really enjoyed reading this blog Robert, as the power and influence of the press, both locally and internationally, concerns me.

    Their power to manipulate realities is often insufficiently controlled and checked. I think the political bias/favour some papers express is generally correctly assumed and those who read these papers read them in the knowledge that they are pro-GSLP or whatever party. The responsibility also lies with the reader. However, generally people seek confirmation of their opinions and may be reluctant to hear or read opposing views which may call their own into question. This is human nature I suppose.

    I was greatly disappointed by the reaction of GBC's Board regarding the sexist remarks made by Mr Andlaw and others on the TAT programme a while back. I do not believe that their actions, or lack of, (regardless of Mr King's response which also fell short) did anything to show their independence or the fulfillment of their responsibility to the viewer (and taxpayer). And that was after a public debate regarding the sexist references made. If those comments had not been under public scrutiny it is clear that similarly the Board would have not got involved. I can only imagine what other circumstances have come about where the Board has failed in its duties. I agree that the relevant governing bodies need to be made more robust and independent.

  54. Is it possible to debate matters maturely without pondering on the past.

    Yes the GSD stopped the despicable fast launch activity...well done. However, problems that we face today should not be ignored and the GSD indemnified against liability just because they "saved us".

    Live today and the past is the past...move on!!!

    Al Carajo!!!

  55. Anon23:03

    Before we move on we must be accurate about the past. It was not the GSD that stopped the fast launches but the GSLP that was forced to.

  56. Robert is right to question the role and effectiveness of Gibraltar media as part of the democratic process.

    An infuriating aspect of reportage within the Chronicle and on GBC is the tendency to accept at face value the press releases / statements issued by whomsoever and, when obviously requiring a response, waiting until the 'other' side issues their statement. Not only does this draw things out, but creates the impression that whichever statement is read last is the 'correct' one. (Lack of staff resources is obviously one reason, but simple editing down of press releases to their core would present a more pithy account, leaving the more important items greater space.)

    There are numerous pressing issues for business in Gibraltar - for example, the possible government investment in office development: the lack of progress with meaningful environmental policies (how many times have we heard that 'green' solutions are being "investigated; at least three successive budget statements); the delay in completion of the airport terminal and it's mounting cost, and so on.

    But I am sure if journalists try to get an answer from government, none will be forthcoming, or it takes weeks before some bland statement is produced. Have you ever seen a report that says: "We asked Government about... three weeks ago, but none still has been provided"?

    With this in mind, how can there be any 'investigative' reporting, or holding to account? The Opposition could be asked to explain how they would have created a larger, modern terminal from the old building - and at what realistic cost. Then there might be some debate.

    Even the opposing views on public debt that Robert highlights, would make a good head-to-head discussion on TV; and maybe someone in the media (or even a politician) can explain in simple terms why it is important to ordinary people (beyond - but not to the exclusion of - the possible illegality that Robert highlights).

    At the core, is a lack of regard for Gibraltar's media; it is tolerated, used to promote causes and policies, but can be safely ignored because it presents no threat!