Home / View Point / Earl Best / Media Monitor: A bevy of Guardian gags and CNC3 gaffes but who gets the last laugh?

Media Monitor: A bevy of Guardian gags and CNC3 gaffes but who gets the last laugh?

“A La Romain man who was shot and killed on January 10,” CNC3’s Jesse Ramdeo reported just over a month ago, “has died.”

You laugh. In spite of yourself. 

Photo: CNC3 trio (from left) Bavita Gopaulchan, Jesse Ramdeo and Kalain Hosein.

Raucous mid-morning laughter had also filled the Guardian newsroom way back in the 1990s as the word got around. Crime ace Francis Joseph had reported that a man who had been shot dead was buried alive the next morning. 

And it had somehow managed to get into the day’s paper. 

But if it’s any consolation, it’s not just here in T&T that stuff of that sort occurs. From a media source in the US of A came a similar report about the sister of CNN’s Don Lemon. It seems that, three years ago, she ‘unexpectedly died after drowning’. 

It’s some consolation too to know that the best of us slip up sometimes. Last week, still half-hidden on the set, the peerless, unflappable, seemingly infallible Desha Rambhajan allowed us to think for a moment that she may have an Achilles heel.

She told viewers that something or other had been ‘cut and paste’. 

Photo: Desha Rambhajan, TV6’s current news presenter.

Is it possible she did not know that there was suppose to be a D on the end of that past participle? Or was she just testing us as I just tested you?

I know, I know. People who live in glass houses… 

Well do I remember the day Dale Enoch talked about ‘a bevy of officials’. I was scandalised. For me—and presumably many of my generation who were encouraged to commit much of the Wilfred D Best’s The Student’s Companion to memory—‘bevy’ was to be reserved exclusively for beautiful girls. 

Remember a crash of rhinoceroses, a conspiracy of lemurs, a murder of crows, a prickle of porcupines, a shrewdness of apes and an unkindness of ravens? Now unable to remember accurately what I wrote last week, I can’t recall them from memory six decades on but I can recognise them on sight. 

About ‘bevy,’ however, the ODE confirmed that Best had misled me. That collective noun can be applied to ‘any large group of people or things of a particular kind’. Ironically, the example provided reads thus: He was surrounded by a bevy of beautiful girls. 

Photo: Now THAT’s a bevy!
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Similarly, after reading a recent report that Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen was due ‘to appear in court next week on a DWI charge’, I asked myself why. Had he not been caught—red-faced, one imagines, rather than red-handed—driving under the influence? Why charge him for driving without insurance? 

Amused by my own joke, I checked and discovered that in the US you’re breaking the law when you are driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired.

And there’s more. Imagine my embarrassment when, scanning my stuff in Wired868 for a needed reference, I found ‘Darren Sammy,’ Keiron Pollard’ and ‘Rakheem Cornwall’ and eight rather than seven sixes in Kyle Mayers’ unbeaten 210 in Bangladesh.

Wow! To err is human but to Earl, critical of everybody’s media mistakes, it’s humongous.

Avoidable mistakes really are anathema to me. But they are easy to make when your assignment is to cover a media conference hosted by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith. Or to decipher a media release quite clearly dictated by him even if it purports to come from some collective. 

Photo: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith directs traffic on a Sunday morning after the Wet Fete “Jamnation” at O2 Park, Chaguaramas on 24 February 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

BTW, is a collection of cockroaches called a CoP? Does anybody know? 

Griffith’s language posed a major problem for whoever wrote the i95.5fm news at noon last Thursday. And for Onika James, who had to read it. She wrestled with it and eventually, one can only guess, gave up. 

“Their convenience of silence is deafening,” she said, indisputably capturing the spirit if not the letter of a GMMG utterance about the UNC leadership.

But James can blame neither the news writer nor the editor for her earlier error. I mean, nobody has to be a Shakuntala Devi to know instantly what’s wrong with saying that 93-year-old ‘Granny’ Luces, who died this morning, ran her first marathon in 1983 at the age of 85. 

Luces, of course, is originally Spanish and local voice and vision media struggle with foreign names and foreign words and phrases. For years, there was plenty of talk around about Spanish as T&T’s second language. But it remained all lip service until Stuart Young and Keith Rowley, with a little help from Chávez and Maduro, their friends down the Main, combined to move us measurably along the bilingualism road.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (second from left) and Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro (right) dance to calypso after a meeting at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on 5 December 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Federico Parra)

Before that, there was only an entity called the Secretariat for the Implementation of Spanish. They put up some signs in the capital city. Calle Charlotte, Calle Abercromby, Calle Duke, etc. but did not much else besides.

Both their name and their approach tell you all you need to know about why the organisation is not around anymore. ¡Gracias a Dios!

‘Crédit Suisse’ isn’t Spanish but French but it is the reason the SIS’ action—or lack of it—comes up here. Juhel Browne and Colm Imbert both mentioned the Swiss bank on the TV6 news on Thursday evening. As did Urvashi Tewari-Roopnarine the next day and CNC3’s Francesca Hawkins on Saturday

But neither the TV6 Political Editor nor the Finance Minister seemed to notice the accent on ‘Crédit’ (CRAY-DEE), both pronouncing it à l’anglaise. Ditto the ladies. And UTR quite butchered the adjective of nationality, which came out as SUE-EE. 

Image: A satirical take on language.

Surprised? Why? Where in the local voice and vision media is there acknowledgement that, beside American, other languages exist in the world?

Just listen to the pronunciation of Maraval’s Saut d’Eau Road or the sea bridge’s Jean de la Valette, which have both been in the news in relatively recent times. And compare what voice and vision media ritually make of Sangre Grande (‘Sandy Grandy’) with what they make of the neighbouring Sangre Chiquito. Or San Fernando and San Rafael with San Juan.

Same, same word. Not an iota of difference. But…

People say yuh could jess walk een a TV or radio station and get ah end if yuh good-looking or yuh have a nice voice. 

Sometimes, dat not so hard to believe…

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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