Opinion: Educating the people (Parliament or the media?)

POSTED: 09/9/14 11:09 PM

One of the poorly understood concepts among the Members of our Parliament – okay, among some of these members – is the role of the media. Yesterday, during the public meeting held on the occasion of the closure of the parliamentary year, we heard (again) several times that the media ought to make a greater effort to “educate the people.”

We’ve always understood that people who want to educate themselves go to school, to college or to a university. Or they go elsewhere. Mark Twain said it this way: “I went to school but I never let it interfere with my education.” Educating the people is definitely not a role for the media.

Yes, the media inform their readers and if they do a decent job, they inform their readers correctly.

The main role for the serious print media – citizens are fortunate to have two newspapers on our island – is to control the government and the parliament. That is at least what the Today newspaper is about. We will follow the actions and decisions of our government and our parliamentarians critically.

If we do that correctly, we inform our readers about what is really going on. With a stretch of the imagination, one could say that, this way, Today is educating its readers – but it is an expression we strongly dislike. Why? It sounds condescending. That’s because it is condescending. It presupposes that newspaper readers are ignorant.

We know for sure that this does not apply to the readership of Today. Our readers are as critical, and sometimes more critical, than we are, and that is how it is supposed to be.

If parliamentarians want “to educate the people,” we suggest that they make sure that every child is in school, that schools are properly equipped and that teachers are adequately trained. If that state of affairs ever materializes, we’ll be more than happy to inform our critical readers about it.

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