Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Price of Passion: Awards and Rewards for Excellence. From Discovery to Independence and a Memory of the World

 The rise and fall of the first, second, third and fourth Reichs estates of State


It was a moment of discovery in itself: of a world standing at its fin d’ siècle, poised between one epoch and the next, marked by the generous applause of one generation for the next. But who knew that then or of the explosions and eruptions to follow?
The popular television hostess jumps to her feet and begins applauding loudly, shouting ‘bravo, bravo’ as if she is on one of her television shows for children and one of her young protégés has just won first prize. Sitting in front of me, she turns around to applaud. Others join in the applause. It takes a while before I realize that Hazel Ward (Redman) is applauding me, beaming from ear to ear and urging me onto the stage. It is not a Twelve and Under, nor Teen Talent – her two then current talent shows. I had just been announced as the winner of the BWIA Media Award for Excellence in Journalism, Best Social and Economic Commentary. The winning article, a feature, ‘War of the Sexes’ Now Goes to Calypso Stage from a column also just about a year old, Discover Trinidad and Tobago. ‘No longer a struggle for equality…but for supremacy’ the pullquote from the article reads.
Bright-eyed and bushy-haired, a new Kris in town exploring the world of wonders anew, not unlike that other Chris 500 years earlier, I had been, on my own volition, doing features of the outdoors, the cultures, communities and ordinary folk, holding up and threading the multispectral strands of the social fabric and identifying and knitting its microcosmic components into a universal whole. The curiosity about locale morphed into the Discover series and would buoy a world of exploration in travel and thought and represented though the changing telescope of media forms and formats, that would in more recent times also connect small island life and its evolution with those of five continents to antiquity.  Discover was then complemented by another column called Teenlife, which was motivational, and uplifting representations of youth and opportunities and prospects. These, with the assigned news beats of health, education, religion, civil society, communities, local government, culture, the arts and the diplomatic arena, I had at once a perch on a panoramic platform to survey, present and contemplate progress of an island world and a finger on the pulse of the heart of those elements that keep a society ticking.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be a young explorer of one’s own island, and finding therein, a world. Readers would describe the style as Wordsworthian, but this is still years before I would discover and explore the mindsets of the likes of Wordsworth and Coleridge and recognize and rhyme the creative impulses within the Prelude and Biographia Literaria. With the tempo heightened, not just by the music of Caribbean soiree, but with the intoxicating buzz of celebration of accomplishment and achievement, who in the awards hall of the Trinidad Hilton then, could fathom that it was not a dawning, but the bright burst of beauty the sun displays in its setting?
When the tourist brochure gloss of the island fades it would reveal the state of the State, caught in the tense tug of war between consolidating its place in a global village and so too its nationhood, and its unraveling: in whorls, strand by strand by the maelstrom that also lurked overhead as an ominous cloud.
Yet, who in that room knew, then, that soon a cloud would no longer be just a reference to an evaporated mass of water in the sky but a virtual facility in which knowledge in all its forms can be held and made accessible to virtually anywhere?
Who in that hall – full of the thought and opinion leaders of the day - knew that the internet - then only an embryo in the womb of communications - would come to full term within months and change for all times the world, our world in the media, in communications, in telecommunication and indeed the worlds of the estates of State?
Who knew, that in just a couple years, the common folk would be tempted away from ringing telephone lines for the lusty invitations to discourse, or intercourse, on online chatrooms?
Who knew that in just under a decade, one, then a next, then another, would be arousing the chatting public to bridge the six degrees of separation and upload profiles and connect with ‘friends’ yet known, and unseen?
Who knew that in just about a decade, the word ‘blog’ would begin to sound less like a somewhat obscene four-letter word of self-indulgence and become the catalyst to consummate the chat, conversations and connections with soundings of thought, opinion, beliefs and vision, as a page-scene from newspaper-TV combined?
In that moment of one generation lauding and applauding the next, and urging it on to greater successes, who knew what insecurities in the old were spawning with the neXt Gen which had already begun its slow crawl through the birth canal; whose first robust cry of ‘Hello World’ will be not to the three- and four-dimensional spectacle of the one we of the penpal generation knew as the Big Blue Marble, but to the more nebulous ‘virtual’ space, to claim that as MySpace, and to couple that for LinkedIns to futuristic collaboration?
Amidst the twinkling lights of that celebratory night, who knew that in a decade a flicker wouldn’t be just a quick glimmer, or spark or twinkle, but a transfer of power into spaces where are uploaded and shared images - Flickr; that the tube would no longer be just the subway or piece of rubber in one’s tires, nor even the television set, but one’s own TV-like space, to create and load videos on one’s own YouTube?
The twittering crowds at the national media awards function had not a clue that Twitter would usurp their profession. Lining up, facing the cameras for the photo-opportunity, no one, not those behind, nor in front of, the lenses of the eyes and ears of society, envisioned that Facebook and its siblings would arm a selfie generation to invade and capture and take over their world.
The ceremony was a joyous and festive moment to celebrate the word in its healthy cohabitation as equals, with images, graphics and ‘motion pictures’. No one then knew that in a few blinks of the eye, 3D would take Avatar as the newest sensation since sliced bread as HD reincarnates to make every individual a potential demigod of cinematic-quality audio-visual production. The lexicon had not yet encountered the invaders and their tumultuous mash-up and smash-up and divorce in the battle ‘for supremacy’ between the world of conventional media and the new, that has today’s fourth, and its family in the first, second and third Estates, crying havoc.
Those celebrating the depth of research in my piece, understanding the painstaking hours that required in dusty library and archives, and face to face coaxing out history and stories from village elders, little knew that libraries would themselves become history' to the sons and daughters of Google and Wikipedia.
Celebrating and applauding each other, in the schema of world history and the march of progress, we may have chest-thumped at the enlightenment of our times, as the retired Chief Justice affirming the role of the fourth estate to hold the other three in check, but time would tell, we were still in the dark ages. Conventional media was at its fin d siècle – the end of an age.  
I had attended the awards function with no thought of winning. The invitation to the ceremony greeted me in my mailbox in the newsroom at the Guardian on day. It was my first job and I was barely a year in the field.
The awards ceremony was the place all media converged on this night, sponsored by the national airline – British West Indian Airways (since morphed into Caribbean Airlines) then in its fifth year. The BWIA Media Awards for Excellence was like the Pulitzer of local journalism, with winners receiving a trophy with name engraved. It also included a prize trip “to travel any route on the BWIA system with the exception of the UK/Europe.” It was a good opportunity to take a vacation or go shopping. I used mine to have my first glimpse of the operations of the United Nations in New York, whose systems, operations and programmes I would in my most recent incarnation be engaged in critiquing and analyzing. Unlike the Pulitzer, this was no cash award, and related support mechanisms for the professional development were virtually non-existent – no scholarships, no press clubs, no complaints tribunal, no sustained mechanism for education and self-development, nor any means of conservation of legacies of those who went before, or those to come, but we celebrated.
It was the first time I had submitted an entry. Not being one for competition, it would also be my last, just because, as they say, one should try everything, at least once.
I was just into my second year in journalism and did so on the infectious urgings of the then Sunday Guardian Editor, Therese Mills, whose shoes just about a decade hence I would be called to fill. Therese, I would learn, never balked at competition and encouraged others to do so, as again she did in the first year of Newsday – of which she was a founding administrator and editor-in-chief, and me, a founding journalist - when I entered and won the first Pan American Health Organisation Award for Excellence in Health Journalism. It helped profile the institution, she said, and the fledgling Newsday needed the fillip against the two established dailies. One could visibly see Therese’s adrenaline racing through her veins at just the idea of a challenge. I am somewhat different, believing in and just giving my all to the best of my ability. Excellence, for me, is a raison d’etre – a reason for being - not a goal. I didn’t have to be competing with anyone to thrive to be the best I could.
Excellence, as was the theme of those awards, is a personal watchword. It was also a word that seems to follow me. A few years prior to these awards, excellence was in the title I chose for the school magazine – Dedicated to Excellence - which I revived on the urgings of teachers and support of peers, after its hiatus for more than a decade, before exiting high school, with the first A in Advanced Level Literature of the Cambridge Examination Council that the school has seen also in a decade. It was also the headline in a feature about me – the first such, I believe, Dedicated to Excellence, written by a former schoolmate-turned-journalist and published in the Junior Express of the day while I was still in high school.
Buoyed by the enthusiasm of Tantie, as we called Mrs Mills, who handed me the competition’s categories and asked me to sort through my articles and bring the choices to her, I did as I was bid. I did have some further encouragement as during the awards ceremony of the previous year, the Chief Judge, Sir Isaac Hyatali made honourable mention of my work and columns, Discover Trinidad and Tobago and Teenlife, then just only a few months old for the role in consolidating and strengthening national identity. I had not made any submissions to the awards of 1987, but apparently, he and the judges were sufficiently impressed by insights they presented to mention this newcomer in their report as examples of the capacity of journalism to be constructive and uplifting and a mirror of the best in us. I was then only a few months in the profession, so it was flattering to have one’s work recognized, and especially outside the context of competition.
It was honour enough to be in the line-up of submissions in that category in itself, as well as in the two other categories for which Discover pieces were submitted as it included many whose works I had read and enjoyed an aspiring writer even before entering journalism. Ken Ramchand, whom I did not yet know would become one of my academic mentors as Therese Mills was one of my journalistic ones, were both in that category. It was awesome, as it was humbling, to be standing in the lineup among all the winners of Guardian winners that included Valentino Singh, whose writing I followed from my village backyard. The other winners I would meet as colleagues: Judy Stone art and theatre critic; Mike Gibbes, Sports Writer; Arthur Dash, the subeditor who would truncate my name for Kris, the byline with which I have been stuck since (Krishendaye takes up a whole paragraph in valuable newspaper space, he argued cheekily, and Krissy, which had become the shortened form by friends was too whimsical and frivolous, I rejoined). In winners’ row too, were Cartoonist Dunstan Williams and photographer Noel Saldenah whom had become close associates.
Dunstan, or DEW, as we called him and as his cartoons were signed, usually swept the awards for the Best Cartoon category as he would that year (there was only one other competitor submitting cartoon from the Tobago News). That was where my eyes were, watching the three submissions DEW had made to that category, lower down on the awards programme, when my name was announced.
When he wandered into the newsroom, after the editor Carl Jacobs hand walked me across the hall and handed me to the news editor John Babb, I was immediately fascinated by DEW. Reserved, shy, tall and lanky and quirky, like a cartoon character himself, he would at times beckon me to his office – he was one of the few people who had their own office space in those times - to show me his daily cartoon in the making. Artists usually do not like to invite people into their creative space. It was a rare privilege and has felt such every time other artistes would do the same, like when Francisco Cabral, with his unique exposition of the state of humanity through his chair-art, would invite me for an exclusive private first view of some piece on which he was working. They, both Cabral and DEW’s, were always brilliant, satirical, constructive and incisive.
I would learn that DEW was from a district adjacent to my village of origin, so we held especial pride in being compatriots of the South. I would tease him about the mysterious E. in his name (Dunstan E Williams) calling him Eustace - the middle name of the former Prime Minister Eric Eustace Williams. His face would take on its inscrutable and enigmatic expression. On a few occasions, he pointed out my name he had scribbled, indiscernible, on one or other of his cartoons characters that looked nothing like me, perhaps depicting a social issue on my beat. 
Among my most prized possessions is a DEW cartoonlike depiction of me in the newsroom. He captures tiptoeing - his statement on my height - to a computer – one of those big square boxes with a green screen of those early years in computer technology - big bright eyes and a large head on a skinny body. Thinking back, those are also words one may use to describe DEW himself: a large head, extremely skinny – but the similarities would end there, especially s DEW’s height had made him develop a natural slouch to communicate with us of the more vertically-challenged breed. DEW’s view of me as cartoon was signed by colleagues and presented to me on my first departure from the Guardian shortly after for the world of television production.
With us in the line-up of Guardian awardees that year, too, was Noel Saldenah. Photographer Extraordinaire.
The easy access to photo and audio technology, even as journalists then, was not at our fingertips, as now. Some of us had ‘point and shoot’ still cameras, with which we supplemented when needed, as when I was stuck near Trinidad and Tobago Television and ended up covering the coup from the vantage of my nearby apartment building, taking some amateur photographs that would become the exclusives captured of those events. But photography was left in the hands and the eyes of the maestros. Like Sally.
We called him Sally but there was nothing effeminate, as the dub suggests, about Sally. If anything, he was the exact opposite. Rugged and seemingly rough around the edges as he would not tolerate fools and has no qualms about telling anyone off, including when we were horrified at a decision by the administration to destroy photographic negatives – a valuable archive of the country’s history – in the interest of space. Sally was tremendously hurt, yet I do not know him to be disrespectful. When I became editor of the Sunday Guardian, with the long days that culminated in longer Saturdays sometimes ending close to midnight, on the days when he was on duty on the skeletal resources on which we functioned on the Sunday desk, Sally would make sure that my photographic needs for the paper were covered before signing off, never once questioning my judgement in a profession in which he was my elder by many years. He would beam with pride when I exclaim in awe at some remarkable in motion action he has captured, in this medium of still photography. It was his trademark that his colleagues admired and which made him an ace of sports photography.
Although he won the Excellence in Sports Photography Award that year, Sally did not attend the awards ceremony and was ‘missing’ in the photo-op of our group at the awards ceremony, but is included in the one taken at the office subsequently. As a photographer most skilled in the art of capturing motion in a moment of time, might he have been able to capture that moment in time when the media world was poised at its fin d’ siècle?
My winning article, War of the Sexes Now Goes to the Calypso Stage, came from the Discover Trinidad and Tobago series which appeared on Mondays. Its immediate springboard was covering a ‘clash’ in a seasonal calypso tent between male and female calypsonians in keeping with Discover’s exploration of culture, lifestyles, entertainment, people or whatever twerked my fancy. The other column, Teenlife, appeared on Saturdays. This was apart from servicing my substantial portfolio of beats: Health, Education, Local Government, Environment, the Arts and Culture, NGOs and community and civic life and any other elements of business, crime, politics and other news and features.
It was a broad canvas on which to lay one’s mind, imagination and have one’s life take shape and form and character. In retrospect, it somehow seems like the kind of portfolios assigned to women and the lesser gods in the Cabinets of developing countries, but these were the areas closest to the heart of the nation, that provided the pulse of the ground, as opposed to the so-called hard-core beats of politics, business/finance/economy and crime/security which were merely the frame. In journalism, as in every other sphere of endeavor, I did not insist on specialization, as obtains today where a journalist holds on to one ‘beat’ and knows little else. It was for me, a medium for, not just chronicling issues of the day, nor just for introspection and analyses of the society, but also a platform for creative expression. This experience would inform many of my subsequent decisions and actions and opinions from my work in civic empowerment, in the cultural and conservation spheres, to academic pursuit and my PhD thesis that partly explores the creative impulse of fiction writers through journalism. My predecessors at the Guardian included Nobel Laureates Derek Walcott with whom I would later collaborate to develop a fund and to award literary endeavours; the father  Seepersad of Nobel Laureate Sir Vidia S Naipaul. On Seepersad’s journalistic tailcoats Sir Vidia would find his creative voice, explored in my thesis and celebrated in a function I coordinated following his Nobel win  (‘You discovered many things I did not know about my father,’ Sir Naipaul would later confess to me in a brief conversation during a visit to Trinidad and Tobago. Flattering!)
Journalism is an incubator of not just knowledge. A university of life. Before me was a world of knowledge to use, to shape, to learn and from which to generate new knowledge and expand the existing knowledge base. I would delay my university education for four years to be enriched in its ambit – first in print then television journalism - and in the process had by then already accumulated the subject matter and experience that can complete several PhDs.
The city was new and exciting and pulsing, but it was the pulse of district and village Trinidad and Tobago and the habits and lifestyles and cultures and people of outlying marginalized areas that I was bringing to discourse with the North, injecting into the national psyche, in the ‘Discover’ series, that attracted the judges, that earned the award, that caught the eye of television magnate Dale Kolasingh who invited me to research and write the television Cross Country Series (among others); that became the number one local programme during its run and which itself won other BWIA Awards; that fed into some of the elements of my now third book, LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago, highly acclaimed as a refreshing compendium that meshes physical and actual landscapes and experiences with the creative imagination of fictional literature.
LiTTscapes with its focus on literary fiction and the relationship to landscapes and cultural practice and habits through description, analyses and photographs is a kind of alter-ego to my PhD thesis that became my first book, Finding a Place, which traces the link between the social realism of journalism and fictional literature in the context of migration, adaptation, society formation, and the evolution of the socio-cultural-economic body politic and the hitches, hiccups, high points, and lows, therein. It is those hiccups that mark the challenges and achievements of our country – the fight for equality in various spheres, from land and property ownership, the equal right to franchise of the diverse groups in the population, the rights of equal access and opportunity of provisions of the State – elements that even journalists and leaders take for granted, and not understanding the historical antecedents, trod roughly over hard-won democratic rights and freedoms. This, with other diligent research – many hours spent in virtually every public and many private libraries in the country - informed the many columns that I wrote since: I Beg To Move, In Gabilan, The Week That Was, Between the Lines, The C Monologues, Exploring the Columbus Myth, Woman to Woman and others as Environment Friendly.
Environment Friendly rode the waves of the lobby for environmental conservation in the early days of the Bruntland Report and the United Nations’ Rio Summits in the genesis of the conservation movement, the culling of laws and regulations and policies and actions that evolved through the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals, but also presented best and worst practices and actions that could empower individuals in every sphere to become a personal protector of the planet.
Long before actually branching into the field and even before it became an international watchword, my outlook on sustainable development recognized its interface with all sectors of ecological, social, cultural, political and economical development and conservation as an ethic grounded not only in the natural environment, but in all human activity. Environment Friendly is also encyclopaedic in range and volume detailing how individual acction in variousspheres impact the environment, climate, food security, poverty, rural and urban development and identified the essential synergies for sustainability between science and the arts, environment and culture, tradition and technology, rural and urban, agricultural to industrial, local and global, civic and personal, that cultivated my integrated approach to international-national policy making and agenda setting - dichotomies that today’s world is struggling bridge and to balance in its quest to find a centre.
Finding the centre is a journalistic as it is a civic, and personal quest. It is on the particular rights and freedoms and the struggle and assertion of equality of women and the inherent internalization and replication of stereotypes that makes changing attitudes and behaviour seem impossible that the winning article, War of the Sexes Now Goes to Calypso Stage, focuses. It gives a snapshot of this, through analyses of the play and parry between genders through calypso and in the calypso arena that is itself a microscopic view of the gender tensions and issues and part of the group dynamics in the larger society. As I reread it now so many years later and with the years of experience and new knowledge as an advocate for gender equality, it still holds true in its representation of the aspiration for gender equality, as it does for the national aspiration that Every Creed and Race find An Equal Place: no longer a struggle for equality but for supremacy and assertions of who's in charge by which development as a goal in itself takes a backseat. 
Woman to Woman which explored development through gender sensitive lenses came years after the ‘War of the Sexes’ article, critically examining the building momentum of shattering glass ceiling from international policy to local actions, but its vision and outlook was the same and also informed the critical analyses enclosed in my book Through the Political Glass Ceiling - Race to Prime Ministership by Trinidad's First Female Kamla Persad Bissessar which maps the development of gender consciousness in national politics.
The centering of gender equality in development which had emerged out of the UN Beijing World Summit on Women and Development, paralleled with the emergence of equity and equality as pillars for development framed the time. In the local political arena with the massive surge of the diverse population towards the ‘one love’ theme of the coalition National Alliance for Reconstruction, was mirrored in the yearning towards balance in global sustainable development, and, as time would show, elusive, as it was instead, in the schema of social evolution, fed by naked and raw egotistical greed, and hunger for power, replacing the struggle for equality with a ‘struggle for supremacy.’ The winning article might have been focusing on gender but it was a microcosm of the emerging contestations in the society that would erupt in the years following the crumbling of the illusion ‘one love’ in the disintegration of the other pillars of State: its executive, its legislature, its judiciary, and the fourth estate - the medium of free expression, while the fifth estate, somewhat guileless, stands in its shoes in wonderment, akin to bewilderment when it ought to be taking advantage of its new empowerment.
Asserting the fundamental value of particular rights and freedoms of the media to a society, the former Chief Justice, Sir Isaac Hyatali, who chaired the award’s ceremony’s judging panel, delivering the analyses of the competition presentations that night, noted:
“…that all societies flourish only because of they are ceaselessly nourished by the information fed to them by a free press, and more especially by its perpetual and ingenious deployment of publicity to illuminate areas of darkness; to inhibit the arbitrary exercise of power by the executive; and to stem the pollution of the streams of justice, upon the purity of which, the rule of law relies to stock and sustain its precious livelihood.”
It was on such wings of freedom of expression that my imagination took flight and that would later feed my active advocacy for protection and definition of such freedoms through the mechanisms of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Organisation of the American States and their heads of Government and Summit processes to open up spaces for those other first, second, and third estates and of the fifth, ‘civil society’, as the development of technologies for expanding the access to media was simultaneously doing. In fact, I used the BWIA prize award of a travel opportunity to get a close up look at the United Nations in New York, little knowing that I will be destined to engaging with its operations and outlooks in various spheres in the not too distant future.






Then, Therese, who eagerly accepted for publication the features and news-behind-the-news pieces I voluntarily generated out of my ‘beats’ and the unremunerated extra hours I put in to generate them, broke through my reticence and urged me to submit from among these. Here now, one was being announced as the Best Social and Economic Commentary. The effervescent Hazel Ward who would win for Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) the award Best Produced Variety and Entertainment Show, jumping to her feet to heartily applaud a young woman whom she had never met (though I imagined she might have read my work) sparked an awakening of the value of those awards to those who receive them. She would, in another of life’s landmark moment when I was the first sitting editor to complete a PhD, invite me as a guest a programme celebrating the accomplishments of women. 
Luminaries and Legacies
The commendations and encouragement from Hazel Ward, colleagues, the public and even the individual letters of congratulations from the Board of Directors on the award, would have sparked my own impulse to, where I could, encourage colleagues to seek excellence too, and to document and write their stories, among which include the photographic and audiovisual archives that we seem to have no urge to preserve, and which are disappearing at a faster rate of erosion or demolition of other heritage legacies, sans humanite -  without structures, nor mechanisms not cultivated sensitivities, sensibilities, capabilities nor interests in so doing.
It was therefore of enormous satisfaction to me that I was able to return some of that mentoring I received when I was asked by the (TTPBA) to research and make recommendations for prospective awardees for the TTPBA Awards for Media Excellence which included all those awarded till the most recent. Here was another voyage of discovery, for so little really has been chronicled or existed in the public domain of men and women who chronicled the timelines of social occurrences, I was struck by the paucity of information available on those who were so avidly chronicling the society and seemingly eternally in the public limelight. Indeed, for many I had to revert to primary research techniques I had culled for my PhD research, drawing on oral and original sources as for some not even a single line were written or was in the public domain. Researching those would take me through the dark tunnels of unrecorded lore of piecing and construction the yet non-existent log of the vast history of media that trails and meanders around the historic opening up of societies clouded and shrouded by privilege and hierarchy through to the inventions of transmitting sounds and images through wires like electricity. It enabled me to switch the light on the centuries of media development from a local perspective and the obscure technicians in the darkrooms and the engine rooms first emitting the first and subsequent public broadcasts for radio and television and print as well as other communication modes, and illuminate the men and women who believed and persevered and connected one world, one era and one generation to the next to the point of where we are, the more open and limitless spaces of new media. Apart from the few paragraphs requested for the awardees profiles, without a consistent focus of investments into legacy conservation, much of this vast repository remain unpublished in my archives.
It is an encyclopaedic span of the little known and unexplored history of media in the Caribbean and our influences and borrowings from world media, of the span and range that LiTTscapes is said to have done for fiction, and which the volume of accumulated evidence on connected global cultures would do for our understanding of our place in world civilisations. The process of tracking and reconstructing, just like the processes adopted for the primary materials explored in my PhD thesis, now form part of my archive of oral and written lore, an expanded range of Discover in many forms, towards a seamless continuum of futuring the present informed by a sense of the past.
It also influenced some of my efforts hence to award, reward and direct opportunities for self-development to peers in the field. Some years after the BWIA awards went defunct, the Media Association would approach me to prepare guidelines for administering a proposed scholarship fund, which I would readily engage in. The plan was voluntarily presented, as was the guidelines for tertiary level programmes for education of journalists when asked by the university and the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters’ Association (TTPBA) and others hoping to initiate advance level training for journalists, as it was in similar voluntary spirit to serve on the Media Complaints Council. It has been part of the shortcoming and failure of these institutions mechanisms not being able to create, realise these to actualization in any kind of systematic or consistent way that could have consolidated its status and fortified its legacy. It is to their discredit, too, that they cannot find a place for skill, experience, knowledge and expertise too help fil lthe void and bridge the gaps. 
To their credit, the collaboration between the TTPBA, Media Association and the private sector oil company, bpTT (British Petroleum Trinidad and Tobago), embarked on a short run of awarding Luminaries of Journalism - to which I served as a judge -, to persons with a body of work. The award included a cash sum that could help recipients in collating and conserving their life’s work. But as with gaps in facilitating mechanism that can meaningfully align vision to action, the outcome has not matched output, and not without cause. Apart from this kind of exposition being a skill somewhat different than that of a journalist culled in delivering only momentous snapshots, without the infrastructure and production mechanisms and supportive environment by which one can recreate, any success it has had in augmenting the knowledge stock, remains nebulous.
Though excelling in local beats and outlooks and opinions, it’s a challenge for many to recreate their story, to expand idiom and expression and description of intensely private or localized experiences to resonate with a wider more universal readership/audience as I have discussed with those who seek my advice, not just journalists but those reconstructing family stories. Journalism, with its instantaneous pace that encourages observation and externalising doesn't allow for cultivating other sensibilities as introspective analyses which is a different discipline in itself. It also calls for particular skills in prioritizing, sorting and contextualizing that makes it a whole production process in itself. It is no different than the challenge that faces many of our artists and creators: the calypso/chutney fraternity to universalize and broadening through idiom and expression the small island, district and individual experience contained in their songs; as writers of short story encounter with trying to move to novel form; or producers of television news or video vignettes to represent through film. My efforts to recognize and reconcile the universal in the localized minute experience might have been what opened-up the confidence of DEW, Cabral, and later Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and a host of others in the creative and cultural fraternity to share glimpses into and allow me to record the private sanctities of their creative genius, also now left to be sorted and packaged.
The digital age and the wonder of the brave new world of new media might have made data capture, collation and collection easier, but it has also brought its own challenges. Many of these replicate the shortcomings as they do the achievements of the age prior: the rapid changes in technologies that make forms and formats almost instantaneously obsolete, and the costs and security challenges of storage even in the seemingly limitless cloud, remain concerns.
When we lose a colleague, we lose an archive, not only our sense of history but the history itself. Without knowing, without a sense of curiosity to know and a willingness to resource and invest and establish not as lip service and skeleton frameworks but sustainable mechanisms by which these can be done, we are left at a loss to adequately ‘illuminate areas of darkness; to inhibit the arbitrary exercise of power by the executive; and to stem the pollution of the streams of justice, upon the purity of which, the rule of law relies to stock and sustain its precious livelihood’ and on whichall societies flourish,” to paraphrase former Chief Justice Isaac Hyatali. 
At UNESCO I was engaged in finetuning the instruments and mechanisms that will help in preservation and conservation of tri-pillars of doccumentary heritage, tangible elements as well as the oral and intangible heritage elements encapsuled in knowledge and skills - not just  those associated with culture as we know it, but all spheres of life. In a world taking stock of its documentary and audio-visual heritage, it is a mark of ignorance and underdevelopment when institutions and individuals, charged with preserving such legacies, destroy or bold-facedly removing credits and putting their own IDs on material they might have acquired from purchase or take-over of a media entity or its archives. That others, like the educational institutions, and the media entities themselves, where they would hold most value, remain numb and indifferent and even perpetrators of the same negative ethos of annihilation. It’s already history what little value is placed by even those who consider themselves historians on attempts to help in preservation and conservation of such heritage.
Unlike those consumed by power who believe themselves and the office they hold symbols of their immortality, as a creator one must by nature be eternally aware of one’s own mortality (that which is born must die). It is brought home more succinctly in the demise of colleagues whose valuable work are interred with them.
It has been a privilege to have been offered glimpses and insights and to have chronicled and to have celebrated those who are no longer with us, and some of those who still are, privately or whether through the awards schemes I helped conceive, coordinate and or promote as the successor to the BWIA awards that MATT invited me to help cull. These include as a judge of the bpTT Luminaries of Journalism Awards; in devising the awards for creative writing, Literature, Drama and Film for which I teamed with Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and Albert Laveau of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop; creation of a genre and award scheme for Agricultural Journalism which I helped spawn and spearheaded to promote food security through the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute and the Inter American Institution for Cooperation of Agriculture or developing curriculum and frameworks for education of not just journalists but various other sectors as women, youth.
But though these may help to fortify, as I have demonstrated, they are largely transient means. Greater rewards will be in support for and investments in creating, processing and securing the legacies – which are not the legacies of the individuals themselves, but the evolution of a society.
They say when you lose a journalist, you lose an encyclopedia. In an age of transience, where even knowledge seems to have a limited lifespan with little concerted attempt to preserve the legacies of these for the insights they offer, much is already lost to the current and next generations. The absence of these as adhesives that cement a society are already being felt as foundational pillars are being chiseled and challenged internally and externally, both by the natural and manmade forces, and without solid anchors in constructive legacies, young, promising leaders become but mimics and cheap imitators of the failed State.
Owing to my innate research impulse, I have accumulated many of the thousands of articles, notes, documents, photographs, and audio-visual material that have been part of the process of chronicling and analyzing and mapping the paths of the past through present. Unresourced, it is absorbing and time-consuming sorting and cataloguing and archiving and even regenerating and adapting to new forms.
Without a culture of preservation, much of this would be lost, as much more of the works of colleagues since passed have already been destroyed, like the heaps of audiovisual tapes I once saw soaking in the rain in a corridor on my way to a morning talk interview at the national television station; as the looting and plundering of the 1990 insurrection that damaged much of AVM Television’s valuable archives along with the archives of other media entities; and the now trend of mash up, to eliminate valuable archives or erase credits from works that are being recycled by entities who claim to now own them. The violent ravishing of the social psyche goes deeper than any fly-by-night social upheaval.
In Tribute To Those Who Passed: Noel Saldenah and Lester Forde RIP
Sally was one of the people who have framed, and form the backdrop of my early media career, like fellow photographer Lester Forde, who passed away just a couple weeks before Sally. In both my early, and later days at the Guardian, in what is seen as the ‘soft’ beats of the society and the community, that are not generally regarded as danger zones in journalism, Sally and Lester provided unobtrusive ‘protection’. Neither hesitated to accompany me in pursuit of some element of community truth, entering and interviewing those elements seen as social rejects – at one time I was dubbed the ‘vagrant reporter’ as I knew the life stories of many of those who made the city streets and squares their homes, and covering areas regarded as ghettoes, depressed, marginalised and underprivileged without a thought to the dangers that might be lurking.
Once, interviewing two women ‘behind the bridge’, following a violent attack on them, I felt myself go faint from their account of the pain and trauma they had suffered not just from their attacker, but also from a lifetime of abuse from childhood, from family and community elders. They were not small women. The walls of their small, dark apartment began to close in. Sally, who was the photographer assigned, partly because I was entering what was viewed as a danger zone, saw me fainting before I knew what was happening. He was there concerned as I recovered a few minutes later, with a glass of water, urging me to return to the office, acquiescing to stay as I finished the interview and we walked back together. He would always give the assurance that there was nothing to fear when he was around. It is not the kind of service to a profession for which any employer can pay, qualify, or quantify.  Sally would say, ‘you have nothing to fear, ent I here?’
They are considered the soft beats, like soft diplomacy, and of lesser value to the cut and thrust of national life, but it was through engaging with the span of community elements one could feel the pulse, that even before the turn of the decade, with the fragmenting of the vision of ‘one love’, the society was simmering. Those covering the top and the antics in the parliament and business and what is considered the hardcore beats may not feel as intensely as those of us on the ground: the rising anger and resentment at deprivation of basic amenities by our communities in an oil rich economy. The sense of betrayal and abuse and deprivation by those in the ghetto communities was borne of a sense of abuse of public office and betrayal by those placed there. By the turn of the decade, the simmer would near boiling point, leaving open to any power-obsessed maniac the belief that the state of the State was ripe for the taking.
In the era of ‘one love’, who knew, among the men and women charged to leader, to steer, to mend, to cure, and to heal - some sitting in that hall, too - would become the wedges to the already internalized rifts and faults that would convulse and fracture the body politic and be seized upon by social opportunists in the then not too distant future. As this winning article had concluded from its observation of the War of the Sexes, ‘It is no longer a struggle for equality ... but one for supremacy’.
None of that, nor the ensuing social convulsions that would wrap our world in the vortex of climate change in communications that would spout an Arab spring and tropical cyclone was discernible, that awards night of 1988. The seeds of opportunity, as those of prejudice, were already pushing at the building blocks of national unity as those charged to lead blot out the truth through 'the arbitrary exercise of power... and the pollution of the streams of justice, while scrambling at  ill-fitting, ill-suited, ill-advised and uninformed plasters over the writing that was already on the wall. Then, as it is now.


Dr Kris Rampersad is a multicultural, multimedia educator, researcher, writer, and analyst.


Related Links:

Power Failure Media Blackout Brets Muffled Threats and Ransoming Father: https://goo.gl/YjbBgx
my-date-with-narendra-modi-dat-merkel affair
Things-that-make-me-go-steups-stars http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/12/things-that-make-me-go-steups-stars.html
Focus-resources on real crime
The-ghost-of journalism past
Ask About LiTTscapes,

Murder She Wrote: Death Written in Stone in Dana Seetahal Assassination
Creating Centres of Peace in Trinidad and Tobago
The Price of Independence:#DanaSeetahalAssassination
Conceive. Achieve. Believe
Demokrissy: Wave a flag for a party rag...Choosing the Emperor's ...
Oct 20, 2013 Choosing the Emperor's New Troops. The dilemma of choice. Voting is supposed to be an exercise in thoughtful, studied choice. Local government is the foundation for good governance so even if one wants to reform the ... http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Old Casked Rum: The Emperor's New Tools#1 - Demokrissy - Blogger
Apr 07, 2013 Old Casked Rum: The Emperor's New Tools#1 - Towards Constitutional Reform in T&T. So we've had the rounds of consultations on Constitutional Reform? Are we any wiser? Do we have a sense of direction that will drive ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Valuing Carnival The Emperor's New Tools#2
Apr 30, 2013 Valuing Carnival The Emperor's New Tools#2....http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
See Also:
Demokrissy: Winds of Political Change - Dawn of T&T's Arab Spring
Jul 30, 2013 Wherever these breezes have passed, they have left in their wake wide ranging social and political changes: one the one hand toppling long time leaders with rising decibels from previously suppressed peoples demanding a ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Reform, Conform, Perform or None of the Above cross ...
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Demokrissy: Sounds of a party - a political party
Oct 14, 2013 They are announcing some political meeting or the other; and begging for my vote, and meh road still aint fix though I hear all parts getting box drains and thing, so I vex. So peeps, you know I am a sceptic so help me decide. http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian
Jun 15, 2010 T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian · T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian. Posted by Kris Rampersad at 8:20 AM · Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
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Apr 30, 2010 'How we vote is not how we party.' At 'all inclusive' fetes and other forums, we nod in inebriated wisdom to calypsonian David Rudder's elucidation of the paradoxical political vs. social realities of Trinidad and Tobago. http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
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Demokrissy: Trini politics is d best
Oct 21, 2013 Ain't Trini politics d BEST! Nobody fighting because they lose. All parties claiming victory, all voting citizens won! That's what make we Carnival d best street party in the world. Everyone are winners because we all like ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
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Demokrissy: T&T politics: A new direction? - Caribbean360 Oct 01, 2010 http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
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Old Casked Rum: The Emperor's New Tools#1 - Demokrissy - Blogger
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Demokrissy: Valuing Carnival The Emperor's New Tools#2
Apr 30, 2013 Valuing Carnival The Emperor's New Tools#2....http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
See Also:
Demokrissy: Winds of Political Change - Dawn of T&T's Arab Spring
Jul 30, 2013 Wherever these breezes have passed, they have left in their wake wide ranging social and political changes: one the one hand toppling long time leaders with rising decibels from previously suppressed peoples demanding a ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Reform, Conform, Perform or None of the Above cross ...
Oct 25, 2013 Some 50 percent did not vote. The local government elections results lends further proof of the discussion began in Clash of Political Cultures: Cultural Diversity and Minority Politics in Trinidad and Tobago in Through The ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Sounds of a party - a political party
Oct 14, 2013 They are announcing some political meeting or the other; and begging for my vote, and meh road still aint fix though I hear all parts getting box drains and thing, so I vex. So peeps, you know I am a sceptic so help me decide. http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian
Jun 15, 2010 T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian · T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian. Posted by Kris Rampersad at 8:20 AM · Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Related:
Demokrissy: To vote, just how we party … Towards culturally ...
Apr 30, 2010 'How we vote is not how we party.' At 'all inclusive' fetes and other forums, we nod in inebriated wisdom to calypsonian David Rudder's elucidation of the paradoxical political vs. social realities of Trinidad and Tobago. http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: DEADLOCK: Sign of things to come
Oct 29, 2013 An indication that unless we devise innovative ways to address representation of our diversity, we will find ourselves in various forms of deadlock at the polls that throw us into a spiral of political tug of war albeit with not just ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: The human face of constitutional reform
Oct 16, 2013 Sheilah was clearly and sharply articulating the deficiencies in governmesaw her: a tinymite elderly woman, gracefully wrinkled, deeply over with concerns about political and institutional stagnation but brimming over with ... http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Trini politics is d best
Oct 21, 2013 Ain't Trini politics d BEST! Nobody fighting because they lose. All parties claiming victory, all voting citizens won! That's what make we Carnival d best street party in the world. Everyone are winners because we all like ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
New Media, New Civil Society, and Politics in a New Age - Demokrissy
Jan 09, 2012 New Media, New Civil Society, and Politics in a New Age | The Communication Initiative Network. New Media, New Civil Society, and Politics in a New Age | The Communication Initiative Network. Posted by Kris Rampersad ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: T&T politics: A new direction? - Caribbean360 Oct 01, 2010 http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Others: Demokrissy: Old Casked Rum: The Emperor's New Tools#1 ...
Apr 07, 2013
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http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
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Oct 20, 2013
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Apr 22, 2014
It is placing increasing pressure for erasure of barriers of geography, age, ethnicity, gender, cultures and other sectoral interests, and in utilising the tools placed at our disposal to access our accumulate knowledge and technologies towards eroding these superficial barriers. In this context, we believe that the work of UNESCO remains significant and relevant and that UNESCO is indeed the institution best positioned to consolidate the ..... The Emperor's New Tools ...
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Demokrissy: Cutting edge journalism
Jun 15, 2010
The Emperor's New Tools. Loading... AddThis. Bookmark and Share. Loading... Follow by Email. About Me. My Photo · Kris Rampersad. Media, Cultural and Literary Consultant, Facilitator, Educator and Practitioner. View my ...
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