The Emperor’s New Clothes

February 1st, 2008
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private] v6-2-My-VoiceWith this issue we commemorate launching the Bay Islands Voice five years ago. In our first issue from March 2003, we published our mission statement: “We will make all efforts to provide a dependable venue for good journalism and exchange of ideas that would improve human condition on the islands. (…) We will make mistakes and we will never be perfect, but we promise to improve with time and respond to your comments.” Over the last five years, we have kept our promise.

Bay Islands have provided everything we could ask for: a growing and ambitious reading public, a generous advertising community and plenty of stories to write about. We have gone through high points and low points; but most importantly the up and down ride was a thrill for everyone involved in the making of the magazine.

Bay Islands Voice built opportunities for dialogue and created actual dialogue among different cultural, ethnic, religious, national and political groups on the Bay Islands. We haven’t always been right, but we’ve always taken criticism and corrected our mistakes whenever we’ve realized them or were asked.

I’d like to think that we have provided an example of good, honest and thorough journalism for everyone in Honduras to look at and learn from. The Honduran press is mediocre at best. It lacks objectivity, thoroughness, and most importantly integrity. It can be, and often is, for sale. With all that said, Honduras does have a free press and Hondurans do value the venue for discussion.

Two of the most important elements in a free society are respect for the truth and tolerance for the opinions of others. Just as important is the role of free press in the public’s right to know about issues that affect the community. Another role is controlling the egos of people convinced that they are beyond criticism or public scrutiny.

In late January Roatan Municipal Corporation met to discuss the issue of declaring me ‘persona non grata.’ I am proud to say that out of all the characters ever and still residing on Roatan–pirates, murderers, convicted criminals and thieves–it was a journalist who was considered most troublesome. Unfortunately, at least for now, I cannot hang this document of recognition on my wall.

I have been fighting bullies since grade school. I know a bully when I see one and recently, I found myself fighting with one. Bullies who are not challenged become tyrants.

Some public officials seemed to confuse their responsibility of acting as “public servants” with an opportunity to “rule as kings.” They disguise their own self-interest with slogans like: “For the good of Roatan.” Such hypocrisy, if left unchecked, grows and spreads like cancer. It can spread from top officials down to business owners and ordinary people. Honest, hardworking investors are scared off, while opportunists and scammers flock to a place permeated with hypocrisy. Hypocrisy and arrogance can corrupt a society to its core. The Bay Islands have an opportunity to prevent this from continuing to take place. If no one challenges a hypocrisy that surrounds us – shame on us all.

We at the Bay Islands Voice are only here at the pleasure of the Bay Islands community. If Bay Islanders want to continue to have a free press representing their interests, they need to step up to the plate and voice their opinions in public forums and defend their right-to-know.

As the Bay Islands develop, the need for a free press becomes greater. The need for transparency in the actions of government, government officials and businesses becomes paramount. Without the ability to hold people accountable to their word, the press’s existence is of little value. [/private]

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