gall and gumption

Friday, September 21, 2007

Enough Is Enough

Wrote this letter to Caribbean Net News today. I wonder who this twit is carrying water for, really.

I am a Caribbean national living in Washington D.C. I have read Caribbean Net News for years. Having worked in the Caribbean as a journalist, I appreciate the difficulties of trying to run a competent regional news organization with limited resources, but having said so much, I am completely at a loss to understand why you keep publishing the commentaries of Anthony L. Hall.

I assume that Mr. Hall is not paid for his work, and while I understand the principle of not looking a gift horse in the mouth, there are limits. His column today on the story of the woman spreading HIV is just too typical. He writes a long abusive rant at this woman of whose existence he produces no evidence whatsoever. Mr. Hall lives in Washington, D.C. and surely has access to Google. He might have tried to track down the news story there, or he might have gone to and found that urban legend discredited. He is a commentator and not a reporter but nonetheless even a commentator is expected to produce some factual basis for the stories on which he comments. For all you know it could have been spam he was reading. Even his attempt to address one fact in the story was misleading: it's not the incidence of AIDS that is higher in the Caribbean than in the US, it is the rate of increase. This is a serious problem. There are many extremely well-qualified people in the region who can provide useful information. I am sure that any of them would welcome a chance to address regional readers and members of the diaspora who want to know what the leadership in this field are doing. Mr. Hall's piece plays to demagoguery and misogyny -- and we need less, not more of those particular tendencies, especially in the discussion of AIDS. Caribbean people, facing this threat, need to know where to get good information, not unsourced, "I-can't-bother-to-look-it-up" foolishness. It was a thoroughly irresponsible piece of writing.

Mr. Hall's judgment as a commentator is not much better than his "reporting." I will never forget his commentary on the approach of Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans in which he suggested that the people stranded in that city should save themselves by buying lilos. The frivolity of mind and the callousness that could make such a suggestion at such a time were simply indecent, and even more so when the full scope of that tragedy became known. You don't seem to have it in your archives any more, but here it is off his site, just to refresh your memories.

The very least you can do, if you can't fix his attitudes, is ensure that he is accountable for sourcing the "facts" he comments on. As a respected and valuable news source, you should be able to demand at least that much from him.

Update: I meant to put in the links, but I forgot.



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