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November 22, 2011

Dear Sir, I can't help but voice my opinion on our new Tourism Minister's comments in the paper today. The news of our murder statistic that your newspaper printed on the front page should have been buried in the back pages somewhere. Does this make it less of a reality or less important, not as much of a threat to tourism? It seems typical of a Government Minister to want to hide the truth. Sorry, Mr Minister, but it is a fact, a hard, cold, fact, yes, Mr Minister, a reality!!!

We all are aware of the violence in Bermuda and the overwhelming majority of us are all concerned. To suggest that a statistic like this should not be on the front page, but rather buried somewhere else, is no better than an ostrich burying their head in the sand! If there was ever a statistic that should make the front page this is it! Minister, it is a wake-up call to you, the Government that you serve and the people of this country.

The hard cold truth hurts! It is not a question of what we want to see or hear, but rather what are going to do to correct the problem. We have to face and deal with it honestly, openly, and use every resource available to us to fix it.

Mr Furbert, most of us know the challenges you and indeed all of us face in tourism: An American economy that is the worst since the Great Depression, nine percent of its population unemployed, strong competition from other destinations, including America itself, the cost of a Bermuda vacation, a six-month off-season, lack of profitability in our hotels, a hurricane season that is more severe etc etc. So we do sympathise with you in trying to turn around an industry that has been in decline for many years, with no change in the near future, if anything it will probably get worse!

You and the Government should be looking to change the way we do business in tourism, not hiding from what is real and being afraid of the facts, as much as they hurt. You should probably start by cleaning up our own backyard and working to find the root of the violence, once you know what it is, then find the solutions to fix it. We know too that a violent individual can come from a variety of scenarios, a dysfunctional family, peer influence, learning disorders, lack of self worth and the list goes on and on. Burying the reality in the paper is just hiding the truth and in my humble opinion your priority should be finding ways to fix the problem, not hiding it and then you just might get more good news on the front page!



Newspaper doing its jobNovember 24, 2011

Dear Sir,When a politician gets up to bray about this newspaper's responsibility to take account of the impact of its reports on the front page or elsewhere (most recently Wayne Furbert's complaint about the negative impact of Bermuda's high murder rate on tourism featured on the front page of this newspaper on November 21), you can bet your pumpkin patch on one thing: the newspaper is doing its job. Because

The Royal Gazette is not a Bermuda Tourism brochure, nor is it responsible for the very seriously alarming phenomenon of Bermuda's high murder rate. It is responsible for informing the public period. It would be negligent of this newspaper not to report and even highlight the severity of one of Bermuda's most serious social problems of the day.

Looked at another way, Mr Furbert's comments suggest that the Government and police are not doing a good enough job about resolving the escalation in serious crime in Bermuda, and that the newspaper has some kind of putative duty to diminish the impact of that for the sake of protecting the tourism industry. Maybe the police are doing the best they can; probably there's a lot of effort going on behind the scenes that the public cannot be aware of for operational and legal reasons. But most certainly, and whatever the pedants say about the relative merits or otherwise of comparative statistics, Bermuda has experienced an alarmingly high rate of murders for the size of its population, compared with other places in the world, and, not least, compared with the crime rate in Bermuda in earlier years.

The Royal Gazette's reporting on that phenomenon as a front page story is not only right and proper, it is the responsible thing for the newspaper to do: to inform the public about just how serious the problem has become. That, Mr Furbert, is what the intention of the newspaper is in putting the report on the front page: it's a serious problem; wake up and do something about it! If the powers that be haven't been able to solve or at least show a greater concerted effort to reduce serious crime in Bermuda, it isn't the newspaper's fault. And it certainly isn't the newspaper's responsibility somehow to dilute the shortcomings of the internal security services of Bermuda by railroading our perception of it to less prominent positions within the newspaper.

As for minimising or repositioning the story to make it more tourism-friendly, what would Mr Furbert and other Pollyannas want

The Royal Gazette to do when the next murder (or rape, or armed burglary) happens? Put it as a three centimetre brief among the Classifieds? The most tourism-friendly story the newspaper could publish would be one showing that serious crime in Bermuda has been dramatically reduced by the efforts of the security services. If you want tourism-friendly news on the front page, Mr Furbert et al, you have to make it happen.

The Royal Gazette doesn't have a social responsibility to conceal, diminish or otherwise dilute the truth. The truth is out there, as Mulder might say whatever it might be. Violent criminality is an important and serious situation that affects everyone in Bermuda today, not just its direct victims. Grow up and deal with it. Stop whining about the messenger; pay more attention to the message.


London, UK

Minister of Business Development and Tourism Wayne Furbert speaks during a press conference to address Royal Gazette article regarding the Island's murder rate.

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Published November 25, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 25, 2011 at 11:58 am)

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