Letter to the Editor: It’s Time for Us to Build Our Nation Not Tear it Down!

Dear Editor/Publisher,

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” This powerful quote has been attributed to Albert Einstein and forms the basis for my letter today.

Why is this quote pivotal to my letter? As a former journalist who minored in Mass Communication at the University of Tampa twenty years ago, it has become extremely sad for me to see the state of our deteriorating press on St. Maarten as it pertains to fairness, accuracy and content from all forms of media, with particular emphasis today on our print media. Having been on the receiving end of that bias more times than I care to think about, Victorious Living has decided to address this issue head on, not only in addressing the blatant bias of our print media but also the poor journalistic ethics that in particular the Today sometimes exhibits.

As we have looked at the trends over the years, it appears as if the emphasis is more on sensationalism; the macabre, gloom and doom than the things that would seek to empower and uplift the people of this nation. For the interest of time and space, I’d like to first address the most recent biased and inaccurate reporting from the Today Newspaper of Friday March 20th. In this seemingly vindictive and judgmental piece of writing, the writer seems to have gone on a witch hunt to find every reason to turn a perfectly empowering press release which focused on building the leadership capacity of our nation and highlighting one of our young local heroines for taking a stand against pedophilia, to make the initiative of hosting Leadercast seem as the most conniving effort.

What is sadder is that the writer of this article in the Today Newspaper did all types of investigative reporting to determine the cost of a Leadercast license and then went on to express that as a foundation, Victorious Living, a non-profit organization is overcharging. Unfortunately, not once did the Today Newspaper inquire about the event from Victorious Living whose mission is to empower, enlighten, enrich and reconcile the lives of people to our Creator and each other.

Today did not ask any relevant or investigative questions of VLF as a true journalist who has no agendas would have done. The Today did not consider the fact that  Victorious Living has been empowering hundreds of families, young people and individuals in St. Martin and beyond for thirteen years and does not rely upon Government subsidy. Rather, VLF utilizes Leadercast as an empowerment tool and a fundraiser to be able to offer our community much needed emotional and life empowerment support.

The American Press Institute states: “…Merely engaging in journalistic-like activity – snapping a cell-phone picture at the scene of a fire or creating a blog site for news and comment – does not by itself produce a journalistic product. Though it can and sometimes does, there is a distinction between the act of journalism and the end result. The journalist places the public good above all else and uses certain methods – the foundation of which is a discipline of verification – to gather and assess what he or she finds.”

Sadly, the Today Newspaper did not see it fit to contact the source of the press release in addition to his other sources to provide a story that was for the public good. He announces costs of the event; but does not inquire about the cost for the food at the event, the sound; the venue; permit and all other costs to be factored in, in addition to raising funds so that the work of the foundation continues to transform the lives of hundreds of people.

The American Press Institute’s research-based online document, Journalism Essentials, states: “Journalism is our modern cartography. It creates a map for citizens to navigate society. As with any map, its value depends on a completeness and proportionality in which the significant is given greater visibility than the trivial. Keeping news in proportion is a cornerstone of truthfulness. Inflating events for sensation, neglecting others, stereotyping, or being disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map.”

Last year for Leadercast 2014 the Today newspaper took another cheap shot at the event; which I only responded to in a private e-mail to Mr. Haar concerning the sordid and inaccurate reporting that was done. This time around, we could not be silent, because over the past five to seven years, we have watched in amazement at the biased and unethical reporting conducted by the Today and other media at strategic times which make us wonder if the intent of the paper is to only destroy the moral fiber of this community.

If that is the case, as a people, and a citizenry, St. Martiners should not allow themselves to be held hostage by persons who do not have St. Martin at heart. It is therefore time for change. It is time for the media to police itself; it is time for us to uphold fairness, truth, justice and the overall good of our society. We therefore request the Today newspaper to retract its very defamatory spin on Victorious Living’s recent press release and reprint it fairly.

To the entire community of St. Martin, we need leaders who are worth following. That leadership is also necessary in our media. We must demand a higher caliber of journalism in our print and mass media than we are currently getting. Victorious Living is about empowering others as we are empowered to impact the lives of people positively. As the visionary of Victorious Living I want to remind each citizen as Martin Luther King once said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” It is time to take a courageous stand for the truth and justice in our land, regardless of the costs!

N. Erna Mae Francis-Cotton, MA, DD
Visionary, Victorious Living Foundation