Having made the decision to read and cover other newspaper offerings from Jamaica as available online, I was very much surprised after a visit to the Western Mirror website to see just how shoddy their website is overall.
But even if the presentation was off, I was still determined to poke around and kick the tires to see the quality of their content – as available online. The amazing thing to me was the unreadability of the entire site. The fact that often feature stories would be displayed as headlines in the picture of the issue covered, yet that story would not be available online.
Okay, no biggy. Kicking the tires a little more I decided to see what they say about themselves. The greatest indicator of the shoddiness of their product online is to be found in their ethics policy.
It makes a great start with rosy and ambitious prose:
“Introduction: What We Stand For
In our society, the press enjoys a remarkable degree of freedom. With that freedom comes the responsibility to practice our craft in accordance with the highest standards, to be accountable for what we publish, and to avoid conflicts of interest. ”
Source: Western Mirror; Website: http://www.westernmirror.com
However if you’re reading it closely as I was, you’ll notice something about this ethics policy….this ethics policy which promises to “practice our craft in accordance with the highest standards.” Apparently the highest standard includes plagiarizing their ethics policy from BusinessWeek, and what’s worse than the initial plagiarism is that Sven Littkowski was too lazy to even bother changing the word “BusinessWeek” to “Western Mirror” throughout the policy which a simple find and replace function in Microsoft Word could have accomplished for him in about 3 minutes.
Now I can speculate that their offline printed edition must work wonders to redeem their reputation when their website is so deplorably bad. Yet oddly I don’t think stories of fires and car accidents are going a long way to improving the lives of citizens of western Jamaica. Newspapers in Jamaica previously seemed to me to be indifferent to the opinions of their consumers. Today I am more and more convinced they are in a state of open revulsion — they hate their readers. Only such contempt could account for the incompetence with which they perform their functions, for their negligence and obtuseness.
Maybe I’m being harsh, but read it for yourself, look at them both and tell me how it is possible to come to a different conclusion.