To: Guardian CEO David Pemsel and Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner
Rein-in reckless reparations reporting Guardian!
Rein in reckless, sensationalistic reparations reporting - like Rowena Mason's report on Prime Minister David Cameron's speech to the Jamaica Parliament.
If I had not read a transcript of Mr Cameron's speech I would never have known the effort he made to be conciliatory while maintaining the UK's official position on reparations.
Why is this important?
Reparations for trans-Atlantic slavery is a very divisive, volatile, potentially violence-prompting issue.
Journalists have a special duty to be balanced in their reporting on such issues, especially when they involve high profile public figures whose views attract significant attention and can excite strong feeling.
A journalist and publisher myself, I am fully aware of the commercial and temporal imperatives that constrain news coverage.
I recognize the competitive challenges that social media and other technological developments have presented for the Guardian and other publications.
But these challenges do not relieve journalists and publishers of our social responsibility.
By what journalistic measure or standard could Ms Mason's claim that Mr Cameron's speech "struck a defiant note" be justified?
Why does the article focus on an agreement or talks between the UK and Jamaica about UK funds for prison building and the repatriation of Jamaican prisoners to Jamaica when this apparently was not even mentioned in Mr Cameron's speech?
Is this responsible journalism?
Persons reading a transcript of the actual speech (found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pms-speech-to-the-jamaican-parliament) after reading Ms Mason's report could be excused for thinking that she was employed by leftist ideologue Jeremy Corbyn or that the Labour Party that Corbyn leads owns the Guardian.
Mason's reference to Corbyn, proper in itself, thus risks being misinterpreted.
Guardian reporters should leave the politicking to the politicians, or else, state their political agenda plainly.
Your readership - especially Caribbean readers like myself - deserve better!
The Reverend Gerald Seale of Barbados, a white Barbadian who apologized for his ancestors' role in the slave trade, deserve better.
Pan Africanists like David Comissiong and professor Sir Hilary Beckles who apparently rely heavily (perhaps too heavily) on media reports for their analysis of current affairs deserve better.
Doesn't the Guardian's "spiritual father" C.P. Scott deserve better?
Wikipedia informs us: "In a 1921 essay marking the Manchester Guardian's centenary (at which time he had served nearly fifty years as editor), Scott put down his opinions on the role of the newspaper. He argued that the 'primary office' of a newspaper is accurate news reporting, saying 'comment is free, but facts are sacred'.
Even editorial comment has its responsibilities: 'It is well to be frank; it is even better to be fair'. A newspaper should have a 'soul of its own', with staff motivated by a 'common ideal': although the business side of a newspaper must be competent, if it becomes dominant the paper will face 'distressing consequences'.
Does Ms Mason's patently slanted report on PM Cameron's speech reflect Guardian dominance?
Whatever it reflects needs to be reined in.
(Ms Mason's reckless report can be read at this link: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/30/jamaica-should-move-on-from-painful-legacy-of-slavery-says-cameron)