“ON POINT: Fluidity of breaking news”

bloc-carol-on-point

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. That’s Murphy’s Law for you!

Well, that was exactly the case for the last two consecutive Grand Kadooment days.

On both days – last year and this year – our Editorial team came into the office with a plan focused on reporting the kaleidoscope of colour that would burst onto the stage at the National Stadium and on the road right down to Spring Garden Highway for Grand Kadooment, the climax of Crop Over.

For all intents and purposes, Grand Kadooment activities would be our Front Page because even though news is fluid and changes very quickly, tradition has been that nothing really happens “news wise” on that day.

In fact, most roads lead to the parade route right down to the highway.

So following that tradition, our photographers and reporters are assigned to capture the merriment of Mega Monday so that the day is reflected on all our social media platforms and on the pages of our newspaper.

But all that changed last year.

With the original plan almost executed right down to the last detail, including choosing the Front Page picture, complete with the coverall that captured the events and atmosphere of the day, news broke late the evening of Kadooment Day 2017 that there was a shooting on Spring Garden Highway which left many spectators and some revellers scampering for cover.

By the time the news hit the newsroom, the full extent of the incident was not known.

However, when we learned that there were about 22 people who were treated for gunshot wounds – 15 males, seven females, among them five minors, the complexion of the next day’s newspaper we were producing changed.

I still recall all the comments the following day when Bajans woke up to a DAILY NATION Front Page that highlighted the shootings while the merriment of Kadooment took a back seat – or rather Back Page.

Some members of the public seemed to think there was some orchestrated move to “sabotage” Kadooment by relegating it to our Back Page.

The reality is news is dynamic and changes from one minute to the next.

We saw this again only on Monday when we had a repeat of what occurred last year.

We all followed the plan that was in place, focused yet again on the revelry of the day.

But again, that was not to be.

By late evening, even after the plan for Kadooment to be on Front Page of the paper, knowing there was no shortage of pictures to reflect the colour and spectacle of the day, news broke that former Government minister Donville Inniss was charged in the United States after being accused of money laundering.

After a lot of verification to ensure the news was accurate and not “fake news”, decisions had to be made about where it should be placed.

Very often we assume the public understands and knows that there is a lot of discussion by our Editors about the stories that come to us for publication.

We assume that they know that we just don’t “willy-nilly” place stories and pictures where we think they ought to be.

In fact, there is quite a bit of deliberation that goes into stories that are deemed sensitive as we have a very serious responsibility to the public whom we serve.

So after discussion, yet again, Grand Kadooment activity had to settle for Back Page instead of the customary Front Page.

Every day news has to be weighed against what is happening on a particular day, the national importance, the interest of the public good.

In essence, news isn’t just there to fill pages and space. It is to educate and inform the public.

We have no choice but to take our roles seriously as ours is to educate, inform and to shape and provoke thought and set national agendas.

So in the case of both examples – the shooting and the former minister charged – I believe we did the right thing, even in hindsight.

It was just unfortunate that this news broke on Kadooment Day when the fun and frolic should have taken prime position.

But, that’s how news goes! (CM)