Setting the record straight
SPORTS, especially cricket, like journalism should not be based on friendship and favouritism. Getting the facts and reporting accurately is a basic tenet of journalism and even though we know no one is perfect and mistakes would be made, striving for excellence is paramount.
To this end, it is critical that cricket commentators, writers or radio talk show hosts should be objective and wherever possible, enrobe themselves with all the details surrounding any issue.
It is really not my intention to wage any personal vendetta with anyone today in this space which is used to present the score on all sporting issues without fear or favour and give readers food for thought.
It was therefore paradoxical that on last Tuesday’s Midwicket cricket programme on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation radio station (February 7), host Keith Holder, in his typical know it all style, launched a scathing attack on the NATION newspaper and yours truly. Cowardly, refusing to call my name but clearly making reference to two articles which carried my by-line, he sought to question my style
of journalism, where a spade is called a spade and all the cards are put on the table, much different from the defensive and protective offerings now being pontificated as sports-journalism.
In his one-sided tirade as I wasn’t offered the courtesy of defending myself, Holder said and I quote “. . . if you can point out that the selectors pick two teams and two keepers were omitted, from the time you saw that, it should be your duty to contact the relevant people as opposed to trying to highlight it to undermine the process of the selectors . . . .”
This was in reference to an article that I wrote on the selection of the two teams named for the first trial match at the under-prepared Foursquare Oval. Did Holder know what attempt I made to reach the “relevant people?”
I can accept any fair comment on my work if I made a mistake, but the fault wasn’t mine and I was simply reporting the truth to thousands of readers of this newspaper as it related to selection of the two national trials teams.
Any journalist worth his salt should recognize that such a massive error, with the wicketkeeper missing from both sides, should not be hidden under the carpet. This is not “gully cricket” or a food match but our national trials and like I’ve written a few years ago in a First Word column, the selections of teams at this level cannot be a rigmarole rush job. Too many careers are at stake.
Hence, I am not going to cover mistakes of such enormous proportions and make my friend George Linton or the BCA look good when according to Holder “it was very, very clear that a big oversight came in the release.”
Holder went on to make some other accusations which I won’t deal with here but he also said and again I quote “. . . I believe that in this field of journalism, that more consideration, care and respect for omissions ought to be done.”
There was another reference to the article which I wrote on Kevin Stoute’s omission from Barbados’ 13-man squad and the original list of six reserves which were ONLY named for the match against Jamaica, according to the BCA’s release.
He went on: “ . . . What hurts me most of all is that there was a daily newspaper which found it more important to highlight the fact that Stoute was not in the Barbados side or the reserve list based on the (BCA) release.”
Again, I wrote my story, based on the information provided in the BCA’s press release, after unsuccessfully trying to reach Linton for a comment, unaware of what was happening on CBC’s sports programme that Thursday night.
So Holder, without knowing what transpired before those articles were published, gets on his high horse and maligned me for again writing the truth.
Then to suggest that a change to the story could be made when the NATION wasn’t notified about any error and a subsequent correction only came from the BCA the following day, long after the publication of the story, is totally flawed judgment.
Why should others be blamed for some things that wasn’t their fault after the BCA botched its original press release?
He pointed out that no correction was made by the newspaper after the BCA issued a subsequent release and said he thought “it has really lowered the standard of journalism.” That’s his opinion which unfortunately, not many people, now knowing the facts, may share.
Instead of putting the blame firmly in the BCA’s lap, the NATION and I, are attacked by a bitter Holder, who has been repeatedly jabbing away at almost every article that I’ve written or views which I have expressed on cricket, whether it is in his Barbados Today on-line column or on the Real Cricket show, which many people believe should be renamed the BCA Show.
Before today, I’ve been bobbing and weaving and staying on the ropes to avoid being floored by his punches. I am fully aware that he is employed by the BCA to write stories and edits its website, so one can understand his constant rush to defend the BCA, its officers, selectors, coaches, captains etc. even when they blunder.
Subsequently, after I informed Linton that I had been trying to reach him, he gave me a new mobile number for him in the presence of fellow selector Winston Reid at the 3Ws Oval.
The always accommodating BCA’s first vice-president and chief spokesman Conde Riley can also attest that he informed me under those famous trees the western end of the 3Ws Oval, only a fortnight ago, that his mobile phone wasn’t functioning properly, when I told him, I was unable to reach him.
• Ezra Stuart is a NATION senior reporter. Email [email protected]