Suggestions have been made over the years
within certain circles, and most recently last week at the opening of the
Cayman Islands Grand Court, that local news media groups should form some kind
of association, union or governance council.
Despite vague interest expressed within the
local media realm for something akin to a Society of Professional Journalists –
an informal gathering of the industry which would, among other things, set best
practices, lobby on legal issues and perhaps even dole out awards – such an
idea has never caught on. And we at the Caymanian Compass believe it won’t
catch on this time either.
There are many reasons for why this impasse
exists, but the main one can be stated as follows: The government wants
something entirely different out of this group than do the members of the local
press. The two sides are at polar opposites and will never meet in the middle.
We will reveal in this editorial that the
Cayman Free Press – our parent company – was approached several years ago with
a proposal to become the ad hoc “regulator” of the local media business;
similar to CIREBA within the local real estate industry. We would set the rules
that others would follow and dole out the punishment for those who did not.
This model applied to the news media
business is not supported by the CFP and, we feel quite safe in saying, it is
not supported by any other members of the local press. A quasi-regulatory body,
without any real legislative backing, can only work if it has either the
proverbial carrot to entice other members to join or a stick to beat them with
if they don’t. The Cayman Free Press, unlike CIREBA, has neither.
After examining this issue from every
conceivable angle, we can’t seem to find any benefit to our company or any
other sizeable media operation in the Cayman Islands in joining a
quasi-regulatory press association or union.
We cannot do what the government wants us
to do; and we don’t see any reason why we should do what some other members of
the media wish us to do. We already work and live by a stringent code of ethics
at CFP. The answer is no.