One year ago, on January 26, 2018 Minister Stuart Young called into a radio programme hosted by former Senator Marianno Brown and tried to read a prepared statement. Almost one year later on January 24, 2019, his colleague Minister Fitzgerald Hinds physically storms the radio programme co-hosted by former Minister Ralph Maharaj to respond to an article which the co-host had written for a newspaper. What is common about these two incidents is that Ministers of Government operate under the misguided notion that it is acceptable to barge in on independently operated programmes and have their way.
Well, Mr. Ministers, you are wrong. You do not own independently operated radio stations and you have to earn space in the print medium to communicate your messages. Let us not forget the negative response given to the late former Prime Minister Patrick Manning for similar action. As a rule of thumb, turning up uninvited to anything is just impolite. My ghetto-born mother told me so and I wonder how goodly Minister Hinds didn’t hear his own mother saying the same thing. Or is it that power has consumed his mind to the extent that he feels he has a right to engage without invitation?
To say that the media landscape has changed is an understatement. This incident occurred in a radio station and a video clip of it was shared on social media. Because the sharing method is not easily trackable, the full extent of its reach is not known. Previously, this uncouth behaviour would only have been exposed to the listeners on the radio station but current media channels allow the incident to be shared, viewed and commented on privately and publicly anywhere in the world. The lesson here for Minister Hinds and his cohort is that you have to be on your best behaviour at all times. Big brother is always watching!
Minister Hinds is a successful role model for many young persons. I hope that they are discerning enough to understand that icons sometimes misstep. This was a misstep by the Minister, so don’t take the message of bullying which it portrays as one of the behaviours to be emulated.
Minister Hinds and this government continue to blunder their communications strategy and tactics. They select “low win” opportunities. Their key messages are not cogently framed. Their style of communication has become either harsh and overly aggressive or convoluted and confusing as evidenced by the lame attempt of Foreign Affairs Minister Moses in the Venezuela issue.
Communication 101 suggests that if there has been inaccurate reporting in one medium, do the strategic assessment and either seek a retraction or equal exposure of the correct information. There is also the opportunity to have a one-on-one discussion about the framing of the content and to provide the correct information directly. It speaks volumes to contemplate that former Ministerial colleagues cannot have an interpersonal exchange to resolve an issue. The unfortunate message to the population is “let’s fight this out on the public stage and show who is in charge now”. Well! Employed MPs, citizens want better from you. We long for intelligent discourse in measured tones. The time has come for civility to return and our elected leaders, whose salaries come from the wallets of citizens must lead the charge and embrace politeness and civility.