Thursday, February 12, 2009


It's been a while, but we can't move forward without taking a look back at one of the biggest financial stories in the country's history. If we need to spell it out at this point, then you have been living under a rock.

When the news first broke on the morning of Friday January 30th that the Finance Minister, the Central Bank Governor and that most elusive and reclusive of businessmen, Lawrence Duprey were holding a joint news conference, we heard alarm bells: dingdingdingdingding!!!!!
But alas, not so in the close to 50 media houses across the country. Why didn't EVERYONE go live, considering that probably 70% of the population has some dealings with Clico whether through the banks or insurance???????????
Kudos to I95 for bringing us the entire news conference and the Q&A live. C News got in on the act as well, and we understand the Express was updating its website as the news conference progressed. TV6, considering you are (or up to that point were) 20% owned by Mr Duprey through OCM, it was really surprising that you did not go live. Most news producers showed their poor news judgement. Tsk tsk. Ticker tapes afterward just didn't cut it.

TV6 though was luckily redeemed by Andy Johnson's live programme that night, an ongoing discussion on the country's pending financial crisis, which could not have scripted a better topic than the collapse of one of the region's most successful conglomerates.
Two of the very best stories on the Clico debacle came from TV6's sister paper, the Express. Curtis Rampersad's story titled "We made a mistake" had perhaps one of the most concise descriptions of the entire situation, and this was also commented on by someone who is not even in the media: "It took decades for businessman Lawrence Duprey to build an empire that controlled more than $100 billion in assets spread across the globe. It took just a week for it to start crumbling."
His colleague Ria Taitt meanwhile encapsulated the effect of the global financial issue as it relates to Clico in her story which was based on statements by the Finance Minister.

A couple days later, Monday evening to be exact, TV6's news producers allowed Sasha Mohammed to run roughshod over viewers by letting her do three packaged stories at the top of the newscast from the parliamentary debate on the Central Bank Amendment Bill and the Insurance Amendment Bill. Not even CNN would allow Christiane Amanpour to package three stories back to back.
So everyone else in the newsroom took an unscheduled holiday? Why wasn't anyone else given the opportunity to look at the different stories coming out of the debate? This begs the question then of how adequately Miss Mohammed would have covered those stories since the debate lasted several hours. Maybe she could teach Ria, Juhel and Gail a thing or two?

As you may have guessed, we are partial to the style of musing on current issues by the Guardian's Lenny Grant, so we'll take you to his commentary on the disintegration of Mr Duprey's Colonial dream: "As if it were a corporate mug shot, the beefy image of Lawrence Duprey, a name usually prefaced with “billionaire,” became a poster, to which a “Wanted” sign was understood to apply. On January 30, it was the image of a man in the moral equivalent of custody. Exhausted from a fugitive tramp through the financial badlands, he had given himself up...The Caribbean’s most colourful captain of industry had sailed his flagship, Colonial Life Insurance Company, and other vessels under the flag, into a government safe harbour, there to be made seaworthy once more."