Reflecting on the Western Mirror

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.

Western Mirror frontpage

Western Mirror ethics page

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.

The Western Mirror Ethics Policy

The BusinessWeek Ethics Policy

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Reflecting on the Western Mirror

  1. ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID

    I do read the on line version of the Western M irror periodically, but in essence, it is rather mediocre and extremely bush league.Nonetheless, at times, one is able to glean certain valuable information specific to the area which is not carried or addressed by the two major dailies.That Montego Bay in particular and the Western area in general could do with a more sophisticated publication with respect to content, visual and aesthetic presentation is certainly unquestionable.

  2. wow, that’s just amazing. how sloppy can you get?! but its a very good illustration of the state of media, print media particularly, in Ja. thanks for capturing it, what excuse could the Mirror possibly offer for such blatant, if incompetent plagiarism?

    by any chance Dwight have you been following the goings on at the PAJ? sounds like there’s a story or two there–

  3. ellie

    The Western Mirror is a laugh. Just folks with “two shilling” who want to play at being journalists and have their own paper to support their business interests, and on a less sophisticated scale than the other two — or three. And they wonder why our people can’t read or write the English standard? Watch this opening paragraph from yesterday’s Sunday Observer Business section:

    http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/magazines/business/

    “Fast food franchises will be hoping that the public keeps them in mind this holiday weekend. The current economic downtown has lead to leading local franchises reporting falling sales of up to ten per cent, despite the widespread taste for American fast food among the Jamaican public.”

    What’s “the current economic downtown”? And what’s the past tense/participle of ‘lead’? All my life I thought it was ‘led’. But I guess if the past tense of ‘read’ isn’t ‘red’, then you have to follow the rules. English can piss you off royally, considering the past tense/participle of ‘plead’ is both ‘pleaded’ and ‘pled’!

    All the newspapers are a laugh. I almost peed (ped?) myself laughing at an Observer headline once: “Why hast thou forsakened me?” simulating the cry of the neglected municipality of Spanish Town. Not to mention the misuse of ‘hanged’ and hung’!

    So please, refrain from taking the Western Mirror too seriously; it’s just the worst reflection of them all — in the west.

  4. jean

    Omigosh!!! Lloyd B – you have such a great track record with Western Mirror but someone did a short-cut on you – and as we say here “shortcut draw blood!”
    Please fix!

    Diatribalist – love your blog – stay sharp!

  5. Never heard of the Western Mirror before. Shame on me, and I live in Jamaica. I’ll go check it out.

  6. Marcel

    Yes, it is a pity that the Western Mirror does not publish all stories online as it contains in the printed issue. But that might be a marketing decision.

    I encountered another very poor website. Not a newspaper, but a national heritage site. That site shows, how poor some Jamaican website companies build their sites.

    http://www.greenjamaica.org.jm/content/html/mediacenter.asp

    Website Developer: Interlink Communications

    What you encounter here is, that the entire website seems to consist of two different styles, one acceptable one, and one very, very poor looking one. I watched this website with Firefox, and recognize that a lot of text is behind other elements, therefore unreadable. What is the intention behind such a design? Or was it a child who tried to develop a website?

    Click the link “Campaigns” at the bottom, and see, what happens.

    Or enjoy clicking “Upcoming Events & Activities” and see, what comes up.

    “Press Photos Captions” is worth to make a screenshot or photo.

    And “News & Press Releases” shows how Interlink likes the press.

    The link to some other links function surprisingly. However, here the layout is different. The “Photo Gallery” looks again different, this time without any branding. Where is the important logo and the name of the organization? Are they not important? At least, each page states proudly that Interlink did this site. Probably that’s more important than the logo of the paying owner.

    A problem is also, that it is not possible to click your way back to the other parts of the website, because Interlink decided that this should not be possible. Tip: use the BACK button of your browser, and you tricked out Interlink!

    Back, somehow, on the main website, we also recognize that the boxes at the left side come all in different widths, which just don’t looks good. It would have been better to use one standard width for all boxes. But aesthetics don’t matter for JCDT or Interlink, it seems. Poor Tody at the top.

    And finally (but I could continue for hours), let’s click us to the “Contact” page. Well, no, let’s forget the poor table design of the address. But what we see is, that the website company could not even give a normal e-mail address to JCDT / Green Jamaica. Shouldn’t it be “JCDT@GreenJamaica.org.jm”? Instead, Interlink or JCDT decided to promote a third company (Kasnet) with their e-mail address. Unprofessional. And against any marketing and branding. Interlinkish.

    I went to some more “Interlink” websites and recognized, that most of their poor clients don’t get own e-mail addresses. Is the webspace Interlink sells (or resells) not equipped with regular e-mail accounts? Or is Interlink too mean to give free e-mail addresses? In most hosting packages of today, e-mail accounts are included and therefore free. Also, modern hosting spaces come with dozens or even hundreds of possible e-mail accounts.And still, Interlink customers seems to get none. It requires third parties to ensure that their clients can be contacted by e-mail.

    Finally, scrolling the website makes the important, branding logo at the top disappearing for some reason. This is a marketing weakness. But not every website developer has been trained in marketing, unfortunately.

    I think, the value of such a website is maybe around 100 to 150 US$. JCDT should have invested more to get a better website. The biggest problems are all these broken links…

  7. Erica T.

    Dwight,

    Let me preface my post by stating that I thoroughly enjoy your site. Unfortunately (for the Mirror), I must concur with your observances on the inexplicably poor quality of the online edition of the Western Mirror. I have taken an interest in one of its weekly contributors (Yannick Pessoa [who happens to be a brilliant journalist but I digress]) and was appalled by just about everything about the website.

    Primarily, the layout leaves much to be desired visually and has proved to be downright unwieldy in efficiently getting one through the site. For instance, there is a search box/engine at the top of its front page which apparently is solely for decorative purposes as it doesn’t appear to actually serve its purpose. In order to find, the aforementioned, Mr. Pessoa’s articles, I have to resort to ‘googling’ his name in conjunction with the Western Mirror.

    As you (and some of your readers) have pointed out, the editors of the website appear to have taken a long term vacation because there are various grammatical and tactical missteps (how disappointing that they would blatantly copy verbatim the ethics policy of BusinessWeek) disseminated all too frequently throughout the online edition.

    In all fairness, I am not on the island and can only hope and believe that the actual periodical is much more professional than the website. At this point, I believe the Western Mirror’s website should be shut down in the very near future (after all it is more or less defunct now) if it does not start to execute its objective MUCH better.

  8. jamaicanism

    Not exactly sure what to make of this…….

    Western Mirror Jamaica

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