The Dean of the Aruba Bar Association recently gave the local media a well-deserved public spanking.
With accidents and all forms of misconduct taking up 80% of coverage, reporters are trying to outdo each other via explicit pictures, blood and gore.
You are a bystander, who happens to be at the wrong time in the wrong place? Your bad. Your picture, in color, bearing your full name, lands on the front page and there is nothing you can do about it.
Hit by a car? Lying on the ground trying to collect your wits to cope with the humiliating situation? Click, click, in your face, the ambulance-chasers hover above producing a full photographic report on your unfortunate condition.
(That was me a few years ago, when as a pedestrian I was knocked down by a hit and run car. No one asked permission to take my disoriented picture and publish it in the newspaper.)
The Dean felt obliged to react when a group of 27 individuals was detained, and before the Police was able to question them, and establish their identity, or their legal status, the media already published their portraits, in color, with the ‘illegal’ banner splashed across their faces.
The Dean’s public spanking stated that there is a total lack of respect for privacy in the media, and that coverage of so-call news is annoying and invasive and helps ferment the collective anger against foreigners who come here in hope for a better life.
According to my sources, local media is well equipped with scanners and decoders, and it shows up simultaneously, with the Police, ignoring international codes of conduct, barging in disrespectfully, in the name of news gathering.
Apparently, most pictures, names and relevant information originate in Police chat groups, with media-ferrets as members, enjoying uncensored access to Police files. And some Men in Blue are even said to sell pictures and feed information directly.
That’s it. The Dean has had it up to here.
He expressed his concerns to the MinJust and would like him to establish guidelines, and introduce boundaries, a code of ethics AND a disciplinary organ, so that when integrity and privacy are breeched, action may be taken to restrain the over-enthusiastic reporter.
Many lawyers have complained about the character assassination of their clients in the public sphere, and the rat-race for sensational publication which lands journalism in the gutter.