by Larry Smith
Nevertheless, comparisons with American texts show that far more quotes are used in Bahamian newspaper reporting. And frequent use of the adjective ‘said’ indicates that local journalists merely repeat what others have to say.
Naturally, this differs from a newspaper’s editorial stance, or the views of its publisher, or the contributions of columnists. But it is a clear fact that professional journalism has a structured process that works in favour of neutrality and accuracy.
Just as in any other field, the media can make mistakes and lean one way or another editorially. But few would disagree that there is a huge difference in the quality and reliability of the information presented by institutional media compared to alternative news sources.
To take an obvious example, simply compare the information on a site like Bahamas Press or Bahamas News Ma Bey with that presented by the Guardian and Tribune.
Any reasonable observer would concede that the online stories are distorted and sensationalised at the expense of accuracy. It is not all fake, but if you are familiar with Bahamian politics you should be able to discern the key messages that these propaganda sites seek to convey.
Screaming that the Tribune or the Guardian (or their leading journalists) are biased against the party in power does not make it so.
In fact, the endless vilification of the news media by politicians and others serves to diminish the power of an independent press. And this in turn damages our democracy by poisoning the debate to the point where nobody knows what to believe.
Efforts to improve political reporting and editorial oversight are desirable, because bias exists in every decision we make. But perhaps the best advice is to read critically, seek out a range of views, consider the source, discount obvious propaganda, and fact-check wherever possible.