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Editorial: All sides or no side; Wired868 guarantees readers continued vigilance and responsible journalism

The definition of journalism in the Age of Social Media is a work in progress. It is work to which, we flatter ourselves, Wired868 is a major contributor in terms of the Trinidad and Tobago media landscape. As involved as we are, however, in the nitty-gritty, as involved as we are in the hammering out, chiselling out and refining of that definition, we do not presume to know precisely where media—and by extension, the definition—are going.

What must be clear to all our readers, however, is that, whether or not we remain in the vanguard, we do not propose to be left behind.

Photo: A satirical view of the new age media.

It is worth reminding readers that Wired868 began life as a site devoted exclusively to football; that, at any rate, was how it was conceived. We proposed to target audiences with an interest in the beautiful game, bringing them match reports and analysis and relevant general information pertaining to the sport here and abroad, regionally and internationally.

Audiences, however, are rarely one-dimensional and it was not long before we discovered that the reader who is interested in Joe Public is also interested in the issues that affect John Public. It was not long thereafter that we also discovered not simply that John and Jane Public also had opinions on the issues that affect them but that they now had both the desire and the means to share those opinions with the wider public. With or without the conventional media.

And so the new, improved Wired868 was born.

From a paper that perceived itself as a source generating and dispensing all football light, we have become a paper that attracts light of all sorts.

And heat. Which is the major issue we wish to address today.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago citizens march for racial unity on 12 March, 1970.
(Courtesy Embau Moheni/NJAC)

We want to make it clear that, without abandoning its core function of illuminating the football landscape, Wired868’s continuing commitment is to being a general education forum. We are neither about promoting our own views nor about taking sides on any issue. Indeed, our business as a news source is to not take sides but to even-handedly present all sides so that John and Jane Public, our stakeholders, can make their own minds up about who is right and who is not.

That holds good for everything we present here, whether it be in our news stories, in our features, in our letters or in our commentary columns. Our letter writers have their own views, which may, we concede, be erroneous or misguided. We are neither concerned with the authors’ names nor with their interpretation of the facts; respecting their right to hold personal views, we merely ask of our contributors that they make every effort to ensure that the facts be accurate, not be distorted or misrepresented and that, whatever their views, they be expressed in ways that do not seek to offend any individual or group.

Whether it be the scholarship and erudition of Master’s Voice or Claude’s Comments or the studied negativity of Media Monitor, we make no attempt to dictate what our columnists think. Whether it be the unfettered forthrightness of No Holds Barred or Street Vibes or the deliberately irreverent levity of Mr Live Wire, we take no responsibility for the opinions of the author; our responsibility is for unwavering responsibility on the part of all.

Without responsibility, there is no serious journalism and serious 21st Century journalism is the name of the Wired868 game.

Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) makes a point to Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 26 March, 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

This, therefore, is our commitment and our guarantee: We shall neither relax our vigilance nor cease to require of all our contributors, whether they be mere letter writers or guest columnists, reporters or editors, that they be entirely responsible; without it, their offerings will never see the light of day on Wired868.

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27 comments

  1. To be honest. I am biased I trust wired868 for truth and transparency. I don’t trust out sports ministry. ( nothing for a bronze medal in the last Olympic ) shit hole ministry

  2. Lasana, I applaud what you are doing and how your platform has grown. I think in the recent past some of the contributions have been “controversial” and in some cases I personally have disagreed with the arguments being made but I believe that people have the right to make those arguments and for constructive debate to occur.

    A platform like this allows those opinions to be “published” whereas conventional media in Trinidad would probably have shied away from its content.

    On the discussion of “real” journalism vs “citizen” journalism my only comment is some of our established media outlets are already dropping the bar such that soon it may be difficult for the layman to tell the difference!

    • Thanks Nigel. I’d like to think it is easy to tell between our columnists and letter writers and the actual sport news section of Wired868.
      I agree that blurring the line can be self defeating for the media. If a reader can’t differentiate between a Facebook chat/rant and a news piece then they will eventually stick to Facebook.

  3. Lasana Liburd you are like my Trini version of Arsenal TV …..you provide a very important platform for fans and supporters alike (might be a redundant statement) to make their voice and opinions heard. PS just thought I’d use the Arsenal analogy to make sure you cringe a little COYG lol ….yeah umm have a nice day

  4. Glad that you and the team do what you do.. Keep up the great work!

  5. you know you didnt need to write this eh? We’re here not cause yuh cute (kindah. ish) we’re here cause wired868 is #TRUTH

  6. I am not sure what precipitated the lecture, but the sentiments will find favour with anyone who treasures freedom of expression. There are grounds though to contest the assertion that the definition (I read core values) of journalism is (are) changing with the advent of social media. In my view these values essentially remain the same and help make a distinction between the work you do and what others are hoping will be defined as journalism. You have not often fallen short. Columnists are columnists (I am one). It is our obligation to make our respective cases from our own vantage points. We can disagree on perspectives and analysis, but not on verified information.

    • I think the rise of the citizen journalist and the way news gets to readers now does force a change from Media.
      I agree that the core duty remains the same though.

    • Oh. We have been getting some “provocative” letters to the editor and columns. But we felt that it was in everyone’s interest to hear even the views that we disagreed with—so that we could better understand each other.

    • Though I work in the press freedom world and we all recognise the changing landscape, I have not favoured use of the term “citizen journalist” in the same way other professionals would be disturbed at the thought of “citizen doctor” or a “citizen lawyer”. Imagine being on a long flight and on the public address comes an announcement from “Citizen Pilot Joe.” Some content can be “journalistic” for sure, but to qualify as “journalism” other benchmarks ought to be considered.

      • Earl Best

        That’s a completely unfair equivalence, Wesley. The qualities necessarily possessed by and the specialist training provided to a lawyer/doctor/pilot cannot be compared to the qualities necessarily possessed by and the training provided to a journalist–not in T&T anyway! I shall call no names but I refer you to Wired868’s offerings within the last week.

        Besides, on Wired868, the “citizen journalist” is only a “journalist” in the sense that his work appears in a publication recognised as journalistic. There is a very clear distinction between our “journalists”–the half-dozen reporters whose names appear on news stories and the columnists who have named columns. Öur Letters to the Editor are no more “journalism” than the fare on the op-ed page in the dailies; the real difference is in the boundless VOLUME and the seemingly unlimited LENGTH we can accommodate

        But that’s why we are online. Do you seriously want us NOT to exploit the advantage of our medium?

        What know they of journalism, sir, who only yesterday’s journalism know?

    • I’m very happy that this discussion is taking place. Similarly, I’m not in favor of Citizen Journalist. I’ve often pondered if the availability of a free “free” journalistic platform like Facebook is a good thing. My challenge often comes from such freedoms not constrained by a focus on standards, thoroughness, fact checking, rigor and creativity. Facebook provides a platform for anyone and everything – I’;m not sure where that is taking us. Lasana, I applaud what you are trying to do – its courageous and I know you have a genuine concern for how we develop and move ahead and a nation and as a people connected and harmonious. There in lies the challenge though. “How do you as a one man shop police the quality, rigor and content. Freedom to share is one thing. Responsibility is another. Wesley, as usual a voice of wisdom and constructive challenge. You guys together make a good team. Hint!

    • Preach, Wesley. We should respect our profession enough to not want to use the term. But the barrier to entry needs to be higher. Every Tom, Dick and Harriet with time, a computer and an internet connection thinks that s/he can do what you do. Without editorial filter. And we abet the practice.

    • Can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, for sure

    • Guys, I will use the analogy of the specialist camera and the smart phone camera. When smart phones first introduced cameras, Kodak executives laughed their heads off at the shoddy quality.
      But eventually people started accepting that inferior product as “good enough”. I wince at some of the citizen journalists. They are headaches for investigative journalists. We get a nugget of info and know it is time to start digging. A citizen journalist gets a nugget and puts it on social media and tips everyone off and messes up the trail for everyone.
      But I don’t think the genie is going back into the bottle. It is part of the media landscape now for better or worse.
      Ian Alleyne is the best example of the good and bad of citizen journalism.

      • Earl Best

        “The genie is not going back into the bottle.”

        That, gentlemen, is the whole story. We can pray all we want, we can use all three wishes granted by the genie to bottle himherself up again, that option is simply not open to us. I mean, just listen to the radio stations–almost 30 of the almost 40–or read the daily newspapers if you have any doubts. How many “journalists” can you identify? Is the number greater than the number of DJs and others? So the age of monopoly by the conventional media is now already history.

        The television too is nightly reporting on videos that “have gone viral;” their news are replete with reaction news or news updates instead of breaking news. And what real choices do they have?

        So like it or not, Wesley, Brian, Orin, criticise the term all you want, the “citizen journalist” is the journalist of tomorrow.

        And Wired868 will already be there on the doorstep waiting to welcome them all before you guys even catch the late train.

    • Earl Best

      Wesley, that’s insider talk about core values, “what others are hoping will be defined as journalism,” etc. However, insiders do NOT define journalism, readers–your “öthers”–do. And they will go where their definition, not yours guides the editor’s hand.

      The conventionalists and the conservatives may try to stick a finger in the dyke but it’s in vain; you’d better believe that there ain’t no stopping the damn news dam from breaking.

  7. After getting the treatment from you once — some gentle licks that had my folks all over the world picking up the phone, such is the power of the internet — I am supposed to be among, like the kids say, the haterz. I am one of its biggest supporters, of you as a creative, hardworking journalist/editor, and of a site as your entrepreneurial vision. It must succeed. There must be a space for non-conglomerate or non-corporate publications (for what’s what this is) to thrive. Continue going brave.