By Rickey Singh
On 18 February 2011, I wrote about “a fading Britain in the Caribbean”, to lament the unexpected imminent closure of a most valued five-day weekly radio news service, Caribbean Report.
Little did I know at the time that I would come to find some comfort in sharing journalistic efforts to mark the first anniversary of an informative package of online news and views under the arresting title of Caribbean Intelligence.
Ironically, while I was so engaged, there were further disappointing media reports out of London, this time focused on new moves by the decision-making power structure at the BBC.
The powers that be seem intent on pursuing budgetary cuts for the BBC’s World Service. These are consistent, partly, with planned changes from a historical grant-in-aid media institution to one functioning under the domestic licence fee from 2014, as determined by the current Conservative/Liberal coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron.
The crippling budget cuts are regarded as the third phase in an estimated £42m savings plan, which began with the slashing of broadcasts in 2010. At least 73 more jobs will be lost, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
This downward spiral inspired a fine analysis in July 2012, entitled Goodbye Bush House, by the journalist Claire Bolderson.
She noted with biting sarcasm: “Long before globalisation, there was Bush House, home to the BBC World Service.
“Grand in parts, beautiful in its own labyrinthine way, Bush House nurtured multiple languages and cultures for more than 70 years. That is now over.”
The biggest casualty for the Caribbean – a region long nurtured, before the dawn of independence in 1962, by the BBC’s World Service – was the closure on 25 March 2011 of what had become its most listened-to news broadcast.
From Monday to Friday for 23 years, Caribbean Report had operated out of Bush House in London with a team of some of the region’s most talented and experienced journalists.
The closure brought gloom for the team in London and their correspondents across the region, including the English, Spanish, French and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.
But since June 2012, thanks to a collective reinvigoration and renewed professional commitment by a core group of journalists, there is now Caribbean Intelligence.
Different in character and modest in comparison with Caribbean Report, this online news and views venture (www.caribbeanintelligence.com
) is generally acknowledged as the brainchild of British/ Trinidadian journalist, Debbie Ransome.
She has been and remains the primary driving force for this online communication project.
A most talented, experienced and respected colleague of the profession, Debbie Ransome is managing Caribbean Intelligence out of London, as she had previously done with some other very experienced and dedicated professional colleagues on the now-disappeared BBC Caribbean Report.
Given the scarcity of financial resources, it is a combination of good old-fashioned journalistic competence and integrity that currently maintains Caribbean Intelligence as a much-valued online service.
Its news and views are in the spirit of the agenda to which the region’s people had grown accustomed in Caribbean Report, before the broadcast fell victim to the insularity of a “fading Britain”.
It is a pleasure to extend Happy Birthday greetings on the first anniversary of Caribbean Intelligence, which is courageously filling more than a void with its provision of news and current affairs in a region that bridges the two Americas!