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JUST LIKE IT IS: Newsline located

Peter Simmons

JUST LIKE IT IS: Newsline located

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The responses to my query in last week’s column relating to what had happened to Caribvision’s weeknight news programme Newsline came thick and fast from early Sunday morning.
Fortunately, the first caller informed me that the programme had been switched to MCTV’s Channel 109, a fact which I was happy to share with the other callers who were equally disappointed at its disappearance from Channel 209 which was now broadcasting CCTV Chinese programming.
As far as I am aware, neither the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) which produces the programme nor the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the broadcaster, has informed the viewing public of changed channels.
Judging from the number of calls, I was happily surprised at the numbers who watch Newsline and value highly the regional information it transmits. The CMC, headquartered in Bridgetown, should be encouraged by the pleasure people expressed at hearing that it is still on the air on a new channel.
It is unfortunate that neither CMC nor CBC, two public communications entities, extended the courtesy of communicating the switch either through a TV notice or newspaper advertisement. What fascinates me besides this gross discourtesy is that following its transfer from 209 to 109, CBC Channel 108 continued carrying the Chinese newscast just after its 10 o’clock news brief. Should one read into this that CBC, which owns MCTV, was ignorant of the new channel arrangement like the viewing public?
On the national level, institutional and individual courtesies seem to have lost their currency and even such common courtesies as saying “good morning”, “good evening”, “thank you” and “please”, formerly drilled into children’s heads by caring parents who subscribed to the mantra “manners maketh man”, seem to have passed out of everyday usage.
That shortcoming, the language in common usage among young people as well as their dress code, leave me wondering if many of today’s parents have abdicated their basic responsibilities, throwing too much weight on schools and leaving children easy prey for peer-group pressure.
I trust that in 2013 this area of our national development will attract greater attention and our young people pull their weight and understand that we live in a civilized society, and the transition from colonialism to nationhood does not mean that in the new national code, ordinary courtesies and proper manners are things of the past.  
We are around the corner from a new year and a new election. I have been going to political public meetings since the early days of the second half of the last century and have noticed a decline in political courtesies, parliamentary and platform speeches. Some have degenerated into crude harangues. For me, going to political meetings is over.
For those whose interest may be greater than mine, the new communications technology has made it possible to follow what is being said through streaming on the Internet. It can therefore be anticipated that mass meetings will be less well attended in future, populated predominately by hardy perennials.
What I find particularly disturbing is the lack of interest among young people in the political process and crass lack of respect for the political class. I was in a discussion over the holiday season with a few friends, one of whom asked three young men sitting nearby a relevant question about the upcoming elections. The response, enthusiastically shared by his colleagues, left us in shock.
It was not just what they said, but their total dismissal of the political process and politicians that left us awestruck. If this coterie of young students is representative of their age and education group, the future participation in the process by tomorrow’s adolescents looks grim. As a youth growing up with four siblings, our parents encouraged us to follow what was happening politically and in general in colonial Barbados. This interest was enhanced by Sir Alexander Hoyos, our history teacher at The Lodge School, a prolific writer and publisher.
I have no idea if teachers in our secondary schools today encourage students to follow what is happening in Barbados and discuss local events, but can say without fear of contradiction that between my home and school, an interest in local happenings was always an intriguing priority.
The lack of interest and general ignorance of some of today’s youths is cause for grave concern. I am overjoyed that my six-year-old granddaughter reads this column with her mother’s help and where necessary asks pertinent questions. She called last week to say the mass shootings I wrote about saddened her greatly.
I have no idea how many Barbadian youths will vote but from what I am hearing, the prospect is not encouraging. It is not good for our democracy that a significant portion of the electorate will take no interest and be no-shows at the polls.
A peaceful, happy new year to all!
• Peter Simmons, a social scientist, is a former diplomat.