In a letter found elsewhere on this page, former TV news
reporter turned-political candidate Kenneth Bryan has raised questions about
whether local radio talk show host Austin Harris can be unbiased and fair given
his current position in the Coalition For Cayman political group.
“In a time such as now, the people of the Cayman Islands
need clear, clean, unbiased fact and commentary to make an informed decision on
how and who to vote for in the next general election,” Mr. Bryan writes.
According to the drafters of the Cayman Islands Data
Protection Bill, who made statements to this effect at a recent Chamber of
Commerce gathering, Mr. Harris would not be considered a “journalist” under
that legislation. So, we’re not sure if “unbiased commentary” is germane to
this issue. As a professional opinion-giver, Mr. Harris is free to be partisan.
However, with regard to voters having appropriate
information to make decisions in May, Mr. Bryan is spot on. For instance, is
Austin Harris, or for that matter his radio co-host Gilbert McLean, seeking
public office next year? In fact, we don’t know for sure who any of the
Coalition For Cayman-supported candidates are at the moment. Actually, we don’t know for sure – six months
before the election – where the group stands on specific issues or who its
leadership is – officially anyway.
Also, six months before the election, Mr. Harris and Mr.
McLean are being allowed – presumably by the “alleged” founding member of the
Coalition For Cayman group, Hurley’s Broadcasting owner Randy Merren – to go on
the radio two to three hours a day.
The station may argue that political candidates and MLAs are
given the opportunity to appear on the show, but none of them are getting
anything close to 10-15 hours a week of free public exposure.
The issues, in our view, are fairness and transparency
rather than journalistic practices.
We hope the coalition group improves vastly on both of those issues in the coming months.