On 12 January 2012, Wired868 went live for the first time with a report from a groundbreaking case at the Port-of -Spain High Court. Thirteen members of Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup 2006 football team—more than half of the history-making 23-man squad—were suing their former employers, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), for failure to pay promised bonuses.
At a time when none of Trinidad and Tobago’s dailies updated their static website before nightfall, Wired868 was forced to go to press. But for this new ‘media house’, led by managing editor Lasana Liburd and operations manager Lou-Ann Sankar, speed and accuracy were not enough.
We had to find ways to bring a story to life as well. And our maiden court report sought to capture an intriguing triple act by defence attorney, Om Lalla:
‘Lalla was polite, soft-spoken and not prone to theatrics. Yet the complexities of the case—plus the absence of the flamboyant [Jack] Warner—meant that he was the star attraction.
‘Lalla represented the TTFF (the First Defendant) and Warner (the intended Third Defendant) and, for much of the matter, was also counsel for TTFF president Oliver Camps (the Second Defendant). It was a role that required a straight face and a measured tongue.
‘Lalla put forward that the First and Second Defendants are ignorant of the whereabouts of over TT$180 mil (US$23 mil) in World Cup-related revenue because it was banked in ports unknown by its representative and the intended Third Defendant, who repeatedly denied requests to account for the funds.
‘He then, as counsel for the intended Third Defendant, said there was no need for panic as the First and Second Defendants had only to ask for the accounts to be produced and he would happily do so…’ (Click HERE to read the full report.)
We were, obviously, only getting started. Wired868 went on to cover a range of issues across sport such as the West Indies walk-out of the 2014 India tour, gymnast Thema Williams’ fight against the threat of expulsion from the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) over, in the first instance, a topless photograph, the rise and fall of the United TTFA after its fight with Fifa, the shenanigans of Minister of Sport and Sordid Affairs Darryl Smith, and the Commissioner’s Cup scandal featuring former police commissioner Gary Griffith.
On each occasion, we tried to ensure accuracy, readability and in-depth coverage.
Soon, entered Mr Live Wire, as Wired868—in an effort to be more than a ‘sport website’—began to offer satirical news briefs:
‘Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal wants to purchase a small airplane to locate and eradicate the ‘parasite of squatting’. He did not divulge whether the intention was to use weedicide and if a plane was cheaper than bus route fare to Bangladesh in St Joseph.’
Ahmm, that was the entire story. The plan then was to merely point readers towards interesting news stories easily located elsewhere, so our satirical pieces never went beyond one or two paragraphs.
It turned out that readers wanted more from Mr Live Wire, so over time our pieces grew longer. Eventually, Wired868 was even making up the news, literally. Witness our imaginary piece on then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar trying to ditch her then Minister of National Security Jack Warner before the FBI closed in:
‘[…] Prime Minister: Yes… Well. How would you like us to do this? Would you prefer to resign?
‘Warner: You know best, Prime Minister. So, I think you should make the announcement about relieving me yourself.
‘Prime Minister: Yes. True. That would really make me look strong and independent. Is it okay with you if I am independent?
‘Warner: Of course. You are the most independent person I know. Too bad the media doesn’t see it. They so clueless that they would probably think your firing me is another sign of your incompetence.
‘Prime Minister: Hahaha. (Pauses) Why would they think I am incompetent for firing you?
‘Warner: They will say you bent to pressure from a few peewats. I mean David Abdulah? Cheups. He could meet all his supporters in a broom closet and it would still have room…’ (Click HERE to read the full piece.)
Well, Mr Live Wire never looked back.
Teneile Cuffie, an English teacher, was Wired868’s first View Point columnist as she mused over the cultural differences between Trinidad and Tobago and her then adopted home of Japan—in the wake of the 2011 tsunami.
‘Friday 20 May 4.30pm, City Gate, Port-of-Spain: A red-band maxi pulls into an empty space. People push, shove and elbow; human nature… expected and even accepted!
‘21 September, 6.00pm news report, Karachi, Pakistan: a Pakistani air force helicopter hovers overhead, casting rations to marooned flood victims. People scuffle on the ground, grabbing as much of whatever they can, tripping over one another– human nature… expected and understandable!
‘It is the exception to this human nature that gives pause, followed by awe and at its heels, the question ‘why?’
‘On 14 March 2011, I queued for food rations, just 30 km from the tsunami battered coastline of Sendai, Japan. All four seasons seemed to morph; and as I stood in line among strangers, the earth shook intermittently, lest we were tempted to forget her. We waited in patient contemplation.
‘There were no moans, no tapping of feet and when the volunteers calmly announced the ‘one of each item”’limit; there were no extraordinary tales of woe, no absent, though needy, relatives conjured up. No one complained aloud, no one threw tantrums or swore.
‘Neither policemen nor security guards nor government boots stood by to enforce this order—everyone understood and accepted ‘one of each’…’ (Click HERE to read more.)
Cuffie hasn’t written for Wired868 in quite a while but our View Point section still offers excellent food for thought from the likes of Noble Philip, Earl Best, Martin Daly SC, Dennise Demming and Dr Claudius Fergus—give or take the very popular Interview with an Outside Woman.
And in Wellness, our newest addition, Wired868 offers stories about physical and mental health as well as the environment such as Serina Hearn’s warning about the regular use of Paraquat in Cocorite:
“[…] Through a friend I was able to find out that Paraquat is in fact on the radar of three ministries: Health, Agriculture, and Local Government, because of its danger to the environment and also as a method for suicide.
“[…] The residential Cocorite coastal area where the spraying is to take place is very windy and Paraquat drift is a certainty. Everyone, including commuters, residents, and service providers, will be affected whenever this invisible toxin is sprayed in residential areas, as those in leadership positions do not control, or monitor, where this poison is used…”
(Click HERE to read full story.)
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Well done, Lasana Liburd! Bravo!