By Shane D. Williams
The Public Service Union and Belize National Teachers Union are now boycotting “hate for profit” media houses that are playing advertisements that are attacking union leaders. The union leaders say they understand that media houses rely on advertisements for revenue, but there is a moral responsibility that comes with broadcasting.
Senator Elena Smith, BNTU President, asked reporters on Monday, “Are you going to sell your soul to the devil for some money?” She says some media houses have been fair and have allowed them to appear on shows to present their position, but others have been disrespectful and unfair in their coverage. She did not name specific media houses that will be boycotted but said it is “the ones that have taken the hard and fast position that they are going to be going against us and call us stupid and stupider and all kinds of things on their show”.
The Public Service Union in its announcement of the boycott said, “the Union does not believe that the promotion of hate for profit should form part of any media organization business model.” In an interview with News 5, PSU Vice-President Dean Flowers said, “The ads, which I must add are state-sponsored and state-created, attempt to portray the unions as being anti-Belize. The unions are certainly not anti- Belize. We are pro-Belize, and we are for Belize. And we will always be that way in the best interest of Belize… It is our view that the narrative being promoted out there is one of hatred. It is one of division.”
None of the national union executives pinpointed any specific media houses that are targets of the boycott; however, the first call for a boycott was by the BNTU Benque branch asking for members and supporters to unlike the social media pages of Love FM and Breaking Belize News.
Following notice of the union’s boycott of unethical media houses; Love FM decided to publish a photo of an individual holding up a racy placard against the government’s proposed salary cut that was distasteful. There is no evidence to confirm that the individual holding up the placard is a member of the union or even a teacher. The photo didn’t show that the shirt is an official BNTU T-shirt. That did not stop Love FM from sharing the image with an article titled “Teachers Get Vulgar”. This was just another example of what the union members are calling irresponsible reporting by the press.
By Shane D. Williams