Kicking and screaming

Okaaayyy. Here I am dragged kicking and screaming into the age of digital communication. Though I have long had a computer, sent my stories and pictures by email, created art digitally, I have resisted the urge to BLOHOG. Now I’m here. Welcome to the past, dude.

Readers may be familiar with the name Louis Davis, me from the probably now defunct South Florida Extra, a local Gleaner product. I will deal with that later in this blog.

This blog Hear I Rant, will be centred in SoFla radiating outwards. It won’t be limited to any specific geography or topic. It will be my perspective as someone who was born and lived in Jamaica for a long time and now transplanted here.

My style hasn’t changed. It will continue to be down-to-earth, straight-up, straightforward. The language might be a little saucy (reflecting my philosophy on the use of language) at times, but with a purpose. Still, when it gets too hot, I will put a disclaimer at the top… something like “Get the dogs and children out of the room, NOW!”.

I welcome responses but won’t be able to answer all. But beware. If you choose to debate me, be prepared to back it up. My debating skills are more World Wrestling Federation than English prose 101.

So on we go. I hope that my little rants find an audience, even one that doesn’t share my views. That’s even merrier.

The South Florida Extra (SFE)
My most FAQ is “Whazzup with the SFE?”.

Well, the SFE is basically in hiatus moving quickly to extinction.

To understand what has happened to that paper, one must appreciate that the Gleaner was founded in 1834, when slaves were still working the plantation, where the Gleaner’s mentality still resides.

It has been the sole major paper in Jamaica before being first challenged by the government-backed Daily News in the late 70’s, then by the Butch Stewart-backed Jamaica Observer. This monopoly status allowed it to remain unchanged over the years both as a business and as a newspaper. It also allowed the paper to continue to show a condescending attitude towards the black masses of Jamaica with its distinctly master class positioning.

Even when the Jamaica Observer began to erode its market share, the monolith couldn’t change… either because of its 19th century mentality, or like a huge out-of-control supertanker, direction change isn’t an easy option.

To the present
Somewhere in time, not long ago, the Gleaner Company (GV Media Group) made a foray into London and bought out the Voice (see Wikipedia) which was once regarded as a pretty good ‘black’ British paper. But someone probably didn’t due their due diligence, and that turned out to be a big fat ‘lewww-zer’. The paper has been haemorrhaging money ever since. What does that have to do with SFE? Hold your horses cowboy, we’re getting there.

The continent of the Americas was served by 4 Gleaner publications outside of those shipped here. Toronto, New York, SFE and the Weekly Gleaner which was supposed to cover all regions. I was told that the SFE, though a losing concern, was actually doing the best financially.

The SFE is a prime example of ‘being given basket to carry water’. It was never properly funded. I was told more than once that until the Voice’s financial situation was straightened out, none of the other entities would be allowed additional investment. What one has to do with the other, I’m clueless… but that never seemed like good business sense.

When Moveta Munroe (SFE’s last OpMgr) left early this year for a position in Jamaica, the Gleaner was caught in a lurch. There was no back-up plan because there was never any structure in place.

A couple of high-up Gleaner reps came to SoFla on a recovery effort. They tried to get several persons to take over the running of the paper, offering the same monkey money they had been providing Munroe with, and with an attitude that you ‘should be grateful to be associated with such a prestigious organization as the Gleaner’. ‘Seh wha?!’, was the general response.

As far as I know, they have had several proposals, but nothing panned out. I believe money is the issue.

As an alternative, someone came up with the bright idea of inserting a color section in the Weekly Gleaner (sold in stores not necessarily near you, for the amount of $1.25) dedicated to the said regions, and buttressing that with an online edition

Nice, but as it is, the Weekly Gleaner and its online offspring, rarely carry news on South Florida. I would guess that of all the stories carried by both since early this year, South Florida has been given about 1% of space.

With their head-in-the-sand attitude, the Gleaner has missed out on several advertising opportunities that I know of, and has covered practically none of the many events occurring in South Florida.

Where do I fit in, or not fit in as their one-time go-to guy and very prolific contributor? When the high-ups came here post-Moveta, I informed them that my rates had changed to reflect the fact that I could no longer subsidise the Gleaner (there is some irony about me subsidising the Gleaner). Apparently, they didn’t take that too well, because despite my many offers of coverage at my new rates, the Gleaner has declined and so has the coverage on South Florida.

They still talk occasionally of coming back, but the idea of a physical South Florida Extra is quietly slipping into oblivion. They is what they is.