Greetings from Kingston, Jamaica, everyone. It’s been a little over a month since I retired from working as a publications editor at the University of the West Indies. The last few years have been hectic with preparing to make this transition, something i’ve been looking forward to for a while. Being on my own time is a a freedom I feel I’ve earned and a luxury I intend to enjoy for as long as I can.
One of the things I’ve looked forward to doing is re-activating Active Voice, something I haven’t had much time to spend on the last few years. I may soon try out substack, but in the meantime, I will be operating right here.
I don’t know about you but one of the fallouts of the digital age we’re in now is that paper is increasingly receding as a viable/desirable product. i stopped buying physical newspapers almost a decade ago, though i intend to purchase both Jamaican papers over the next few weeks because i’m moving and the newsprint will come in useful when packing.
I used to read the local papers online but now they’ve started charging for access i do without them, especially as their landing pages have become increasingly cluttered with ads with nary a news story in sight. In fact you wouldn’t even know you were landing on the front page of a newspaper if you look at some of the examples shown below. What you’re viewing are screenshots of the landing pages of the main newspapers in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the US and India.
What isn’t captured in these screenshots of the landing pages of regional papers is the noisy clamour of ads blinking like strobe lights, distracting videos and busy captions that type themselves across your screen preventing you from getting any sense of the main news stories. when you do find a news story it’s club sandwiched between layers of inane still ads.
Contrast these with the final four screenshots, one of the Statesman in India and the NYT, Washington Post and Boston Globe. In the latter 3 the masthead of the newspaper is clearly visible in large enough letters, there are very few ads pulling your eyes away from the news headlines that give you a good sense of the main news occupying the communities serviced by those newspapers.
When will local news media wake up and put in place serious policies about the way they communicate with their audiences? I have no desire to be bombarded with ads and if it’s an evil the regional news media finds essential then put those advertising dollars to work paying good investigative journalists to expose the many nefarious schemes and plots undermining our social and political systems. Surely there is no doubt after the fallout from ‘Pastor’ Kevin Smith’s peculiar ministrations and the daily updates from the Klansmen trial in Kingston that we are living the zombie apocalypse.
The mindless genuflection to a bankrupt corporate sector that can’t come up with better ways to advertise their products than to plaster boring blandishments across newspapers no one is reading is as much an indictment of these companies as the feckless media conveying their messages.