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Media Monitor: Does moving T’dad Express editorial finger find sport nothing to write home about?

Yesterday’s Express leader, headlined “Victory for all,” purports to be a celebration of the recapture of the CPL title by the Trinbago Knight Riders on Sunday evening. However, if editorials can be viewed as the equivalent of Test matches, I submit, then this one was a T20-type effort, a brief, not-on-song-Darren Bravo innings of 9 or 4 but nothing like his unforgettable unbeaten 94 against the St Lucia Stars.

Instead of being what an editorial should be, an unambiguous, unequivocal, clear, fact-based statement of the newspaper’s position on a topical issue, it came over as a private thought. It reminded me of the phrase associated with the “The Passing Parade,” a mid-to-late-last-century, regular, weekday radio feature hosted by Larry Heywood. “random thoughts about things in general.”

Photo: TKR pacer Ali Khan (centre) celebrates an early wicket during the CPL final against GAW at the Brian Lara Academy in Tarouba on 16 September 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

When a pretty young lady in the Brian Lara Cricket Academy queue inquired aloud whether Dwayne Bravo was married, a witty response leapt unbidden into my head.

“I don’t know if he is married,” I privately thought of saying to her, “but I do know he is wedded to the idea that he should bowl at the death.”

I thought better of it. For three reasons. The first was the old warning about cobos’ dietary habits; the second was that people often take conversation with pretty young ladies for something else—and my “people” were not too far away in the female queue.

Reason number three was that I genuinely believe—unlike, I am told, a substantial percentage of Facebook regulars—that many private thoughts should remain private. Private thoughts, as any CPL televiewer who’s listened to Daren Ganga for five minutes can testify, can easily become public torts.

And so I also thought better of including a private thought in the colour story I wrote on last Sunday’s CPL final. “The red-clad 15,000-strong sell-out crowd were behaving as if the result was pre-ordained.” Originally, that sentence continued, “perhaps even pre-ordwayned.”

Photo: Trinbago Knight Riders fans get behind their team during CPL action against Jamaica Tallawahs at the Queen’s Park Oval on 10 August 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images)

Would-be reporters in my Fundamentals of Reporting class were told that truth is a sure-fire, foolproof defence against the tort of libel. And that the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. Had I on Sunday had DJB’s post-final statement to the Wired868 interviewer, I would not have deleted the three additional words.

“We know once we play Guyana in the final again,” DJB admitted, “we gonna beat dem and beat them badly.”

Unsurprisingly, the Express editorialist opted not to go there. But less defensibly, (s)he also opted to completely ignore such issues as the success of the CPL as sport tourism, the Rowley Government’s “purchase” of the finals for three years, the no-holds-barred embrace of franchise cricket by locals despite widespread initial disapproval and the potential impact of the TKR’s recapture of the title on the return of the local cricketing prodigal sons to the regional fold.

We are instead treated to such stirring stuff as “Having won the inaugural competition in 2013, the Jamaica Tallawahs lifted the tournament trophy again in 2016, while the Barbados Tridents won in 2014.”

And “Khary Pierre, who (…) has signalled his intentions of going ahead with a career that seems his for the clutching. His down-to-earth, unassuming demeanour gives way to a highly deceptive, cunning and calculating deliverer of doom, as those who faced him Sunday evening would concede.”

Photo: Jam-on?
A patron pays homage to late pop superstar Michael Jackson during CPL action between TKR and the Jamaica Tallawahs at the Queen’s Park Oval on 10 August 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Mind you, to be fair the Express editorials rarely miss the mark, are generally solid and often excellent. One notable example already cited in this space is the August 15 one headlined “Neither fun nor foolishness.” “Silly stand-off” of August 14 is marred by silly typos (“OTWU”) and other errors (“This, has already been established”) but any of “A dangerous option” (Aug 16), “Catalyst for change” (Aug 20), “Time to take on the gangs” (Aug 29), “Still not getting it right” (Sept 2), “Remove this threat to journalists” (Sept 5) or “Cut the ugly ‘Oreo’ talk” (Sept 13) is a fine example of what an editorial should be.

Regrettably, however, “Victory for all” loses the plot. Its writer’s focus is by no means sharp, his/her command of its core material questionable. Additionally, neither of the other two relatively recent attempts to comment on sport is worthy of note either; “Football foul” (Aug 12) and “National Policy on Sport an important document” (Sept 15) do not really, in my view, pass muster.

One comes away with the impression that the Express principals feel the need to now and again acknowledge the existence of “a majority—51 per cent—(who) consider athletes a positive influence overall, compared to just nine per cent who see them as a negative influence.”

Might it really be that the Express principals, unintentionally or otherwise contemptuous of sport audiences, merely seek to humour them with an occasional editorial on a current topic—with or without real conviction?

Photo: (From right) FIFA official Veron Mosengo-Omba, Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe and TTFA president David John-Williams inspect the TTFA’s Home of Football in Couva on 20 August 2018.
(Courtesy MSYA)

One might, after all, argue that there would be no real point to feeding sponge cake to cobo, of casting pearls before swine.

Perhaps that too is a private thought that should have been kept private.

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