Online news media and social networking

| 16/02/2011

As we have all seen in the international news recently, real time news media and online news, coupled with social networking like FaceBook and Twitter is changing the world. Online news in the Cayman Islands is changing the way we see our politicians. Less than two decades ago we had the coconut telegraph and the Marl Road. If you hadn’t heard a rumor by 10:00am, start one and stories traveling the Marl Road could change content completely from West Bay to George Town.

Knowing a politician or someone in government became a must and politicians pressuring the print media and private sector with bullying and intimidation along with retribution, in my opinion, is a stain in Cayman’s history. There are varied opinions about Desmond Seales’ Cayman Net News but he did start the ball rolling by opening up "letters to the editor" and pressing for a position where bullying and retribution from political figures against anyone who dared to criticize was at least out in the open. 

In a very short period of time the Cayman Islands’ political landscape has changed and, in this writer’s view, not for the better. The islands had a generation of politicians for the people and the country. With ExCo we had several elected members sitting down and governing the country. The majority of the time we agreed with Miss Annie, Mr Craddock, Captain Charles and Benson, Mr Norman and Mr Truman and the people felt they had elected members working for them.

One of the worst days in Cayman’s history was when the then government voted in large salaries and benefit packages for elected officials. That was the beginning of "being a politician meant becoming a wealthy person". Along with the comfortable income and retirement came a license for conflicts of interest. In other countries it is an abuse of power that is normally not tolerated. No paper directorships, gifts, cars, partnerships, channeling business to personal companies, making cronies wealthy with inflated government contracts. You all know the list by now.

In the good times everyone seemed to tolerate the new politicians and what they felt they deserved from being an elected member. But we are now in the bad times and true leaders need to show their metal and they have fallen short and are not governing the way out of this mess. They are too used to governing mainly for themselves and a little for the people. This is one of the reasons the present government focuses on "projects" rather than non income producing issues like crime, education, health and social services. History will show, though, that one of the events that will save Cayman politically was the world economic slow down.

The party system evolved because we had to many good leaders in government. The two party system has never really worked for all the people. Mr Bush created the UPD as a vehicle for power, control, personal and political aspirations. The PPM had to be formed to try and counter what was happening. Now our political model has been morphed into a terrible situation where one man is running the country. This is not healthy for any democracy or our government and there needs to be change.

Online media and social networking will help to bring accountability, transparency and change to the Caymanian political landscape. Cayman News Service is the leader of online media and hopefully CayCompass will follow with even more objectivity. Every day hard working, interested, good frustrated people, voters, residents have been able to question, ask for answers, accountability and criticize the government in power. This is very healthy for any democracy and leads to the people being served. Look at what we have found out about the tendering system, the health care system, unbalanced government accounts, slush funds, first class junkets by elected members, benefit packages, cronyism, back room deals — the list is endless.

Mr Bush has stated that, as he calls them, "the bloggers" will ruin Cayman. The bloggers, online media, social networking information, along with open dialogue, the eradication of politician bullying, intimidation and retribution towards the private sector, freedom of the press and speech, will save the Cayman Islands from the political quagmire it is presently in.

What has happened in Egypt is dramatic and unique. The USA media calls it "The Facebook Revolution" but it is deeper than that. Young educated Egyptians want a vote, a say and freedom of speech. With the help of the media and a new way of communicating they are succeeding.

Cayman is so lucky. We have a vote and a new way to communicate as well — our online media. Power politicians will now be seeking ways to pressure the media and perhaps stall or slow down public information because information is their enemy.

We have the vote and the online vehicles to communicate. It’s time for a peaceful, informed vote for change in the Cayman Islands to leaders for the people.

"Press on Cayman!"

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  1. Roadblogger says:

    "In other countries it is an abuse of power that is normally not tolerated. No paper directorships, gifts, cars, partnerships, channeling business to personal companies, making cronies wealthy with inflated government contracts."

    I take exception to this Lachlan. Because, as a matter of fact it is not exceptional to see this happen in governments all over the world and do not use the U.S. as an example of a democracy that works as opposed to others.  Take one look:  two presidential elections that were dubious to say the least, prior to that, a president with kinky inclinations toward staff, and, prior to that a president who was the former head of the CIA and later his moronic son installed (see dubious elections).  No, it isn’t unusual to see how power corrupts and how it can be manipulated. Barack Obama, the Great Hope, has backtracked on every promise, from Guatanamo, to reigning in the criminal elements on Wall Street.  The real issue, as you say, is accountability. But who are elected officials really accountable to when their campaigns are financed by special interest? And what news is derived from corporate media when an unjust and illegal war or wars can be instigated without the slightest questioning?  And to other posters Social media can be manipulated, no question but what other choice do we have after witnessing the above ongoing incidents? In general, as elsewhere, the citizens on Cayman are better informed, more caring for each other and more intelligent than their representatives. That is our fault.  But also the fault of a system which we have allowed to take hold of our democracy. We have to ask ourselves then, how do we change it? When the powers that be like it that way? A new political landscape must be created. Everyone has to be and must continue to be involved.

    • Lachlan MacTavish says:

       I like this post. Certainly "said" it better than I could. You are 100% right we the voters have let it happen.

      PS I am no fan of USA politics. The waste is staggering and forget how bad the presidents are, Congress is worse. Those guys can speak for 15 minutes and not say anything ;-))


  2. Anonymous says:

    It is somewhat ironic to read letters pontificating on what WE should do on OUR Island from someone that has not lived here for 10 years.

    • Anonymous says:

       If this guy moved off 10 years ago but is still spending his time trying to improve Cayman through fostering an open and important debate, it shows that Lachlan truly cares about the CaymanIslands, don’t you think?  I mean, if he didn’t care, why would he bother?  

      Good on him, and let’s face it – a few fresh ideas just might be helpful.  It’s not like what’s happening now is working to any meaningful degree.  No need to embrace failure and reject ideas that come from the other side of the border.

      • Lachlan MacTavish says:

        08:50…this is a tired old debate. There are 1000’s of wonderful Caymanians living in the UK, Canada and the USA. These "born" Caymanians can have as much of a say as they want. My type of Caymanian cannot run for public office or should not speak out if you are not living "on island". 

    • Dred says:

      What is amazing is that sometimes it doesn’t take 10 years for someone to see what people who have lived here all their lives can not.

      Some people can not see pass the rim of their glasses and some people are just too stupid to see what’s right in front of them. So to beat the man down for not being here 10 years is once again another sheer silly statement because it means absolutely nothing.

  3. Right ya so says:

     Lachlan move on.  

    Cayman is NOT what you remember – we all know this – it is certainly not the Cayman of my youth in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.. You also don’t live here anymore.

    I live here and deal with the changes daily. Stop dragging up the past – it isn’t doing any good. It gone. It’s over. Let. it. go.!

    If you love Cayman as much as you purport stop spouting about this glorified past, move back here, live it daily and do something about the future. 

  4. Sotong says:

    "We have the vote and the online vehicles to communicate. It’s time for a peaceful, informed vote for change in the Cayman Islands to leaders for the people."

    Erm – I don’t have a vote.

  5. Joe Bananas says:

    I don’t always agree with you but I do always like that you do put out there what you think needs to be out there. Well said and something that needed to be said. The fact that you are not scared of those in power and write about those who are abused by those in power shows your mettle. Cayman needs more like you to fight the corruption that is stealing the ability of Caymanians to have a good future in their own homeland.Keep it comeing Sista Lachlan. May the force be with you and yours.

    • Anonymous9 says:

      Um.. Lachlan is a brotha not a sista and he doesn’t live here so he has no need to be ‘scared’.

      It was a good piece Lach. Some may not agree but that does not make it any less true.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This ‘opinion’ piece is very poorly thought out despite its obvious delusions of self-grandeur. Whilst social media is great, its also disarmingly biased and hugely counter-productive and ill-informed.  The jury on social media is out, and will be out, for years if not decades…..the problem is the sheer lack of accountability with it…..i’m writing this behind a screen of anonymity and love the fact that i can….but i’m equally cogniscant of the laughable position of ‘power’ that anonymity can bring when utilized on such a mass-scale as the internet…..its so easy for us all to have all the right answers and complain about everything, because we can hide behind the walls of secrecy online……its a double-edged sword that none of us really spend too much time worrying about as long as we can quickly fire off a hugely ‘informed’ piece about something else we find annoying and then go back to the anonymity of our mundane lives…..when used effectively, social media has massive benefits… long as its used correctly and fairly…..but to promote its use as the ‘second coming’ is to simply continue the very dangerous path we’re all heading towards……social media and the internet are killing many industries (heck, quality Journalism is dying because we’re all reading the kind of rubbish that’s written by anyone, including this nonsense that i’m writing)… is flailing as people can cheat easily, and also be very easily misinformed (go post an ‘answer’ on wikipedia about anything and see)…..checks and balances are out the window…rumours are fact…..attention spans are shorter than those of goldfish…its a recipe for long term disaster……and to promote the use of anonymous social media to bring down a fairly elected government in a country such as Cayman is irresponsible at best and hugely naive and dangerous at worst…….whats happening in the Middle East has nothing to do with Social Media, it has everything to do with history and culture and struggles that we, thankfully, are grossly ill-informed about and thankfully are 000’s of miles and hundreds of years removed from…it would have happened anyhow, regardless of twitter or facebook……..the Cayman Islands are not in a political quagmire of anyones making but the Caymanian peoples themselves….if you want change, stand for election……beg the wealthy, 40-50 yr old Caymanians to stand up, to come away from easy street and give back……otherwise we’re left with the same old crew every few years……and they’ve been getting away with whatever they’ve gotten away withf or so long, they’re not going to change and why should they? If we’re too lazy to stand against them, we’re getting what we deserved……hey, we voted for them……those in the Middle East didnt.

    • Lachlan MacTavish says:

      anon 12:53… have a view or opinion, glad you expressed it. The USA media is as usual over playing the growth of the social media and the Middle East but sweeps are coming up. The jury may be out but, for decades I think not. Online and social media will grow and refine itself very rapidly. I do not know how long you have lived or for that matter even live in Cayman but it has only been years since the print media in Cayman was filtered, influenced and controlled. It is very refreshing for Cayman to have real online news and for the readers to be able to decide if it has merit for themselves. Yes, many people hide behind the computer screen and in Cayman most understand why. We do have a fairly elected government in Cayman but many feel it is failing the people and the country. Just because it is fairly elected doesn’t mean we must stand by and watch. Your closing confuses me because I see a great many people standing up and asking for change.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Nice piece Lach.

    Bring on the revolution – Cayman needs one!

    Thanks CNS!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Lach, is this a piece promoting the PPM, the online media or just another one of your anti UDP rantings. I lost track half way through.

    • Anonymous says:

      maybe you lost track because you were looking for something that was not there… or are blind to something that is.