Opinion: Crystal Pineapple Awards

POSTED: 09/6/11 2:11 PM

The Crystal Pineapple Awards event is a on the distant horizon for the sixth consecutive year. It is a stylish event designed by the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association to honor people for outstanding achievements in the hospitality industry.
So there is an award for outstanding employee, outstanding supervisor, outstanding restaurateur, outstanding hotelier, and so on. There is even an award for Made in St. Maarten, a nice addition to the mix. There will also be crystal pineapples for outstanding teachers and for achievements with the youth.
So far, so good.
The organization has also put in the category for outstanding journalism “that seeks to advocate the tourism industry through the dissemination of accurate and informative information.”
This is of course an impossible award, because the promotion of tourism is not the task of a journalist. On the contrary, journalists are to follow developments in the tourism industry in a critical manner. They have to be fair and balanced, for sure, but once they become advocates of the tourism industry they somewhat lose their balance and they also stop being journalists. Why not give an award for achievements in public relations?
And who are the candidates? At last count we found that there are 22 journalists working on the Dutch side of the island, of which fifteen are employed by the Daily Herald. A fraction of this tiny number writes on occasion about tourism.
We don’t think much of journalism awards in the first place, but when the field is so narrow that there is hardly anybody to choose from, it becomes pretty much a pointless exercise.
To make matters worse, the nomination procedure once again opened the door for fraud, whereby writers in need of a feather in their cap could easily nominate themselves. That’s happened before and it is a bit of a pity that the SHTA does not seem to recognize that such bloopers are potentially damaging for an otherwise great event.
What is the SHTA going to do it there are (let’s be optimistic here) two candidates for the journalism award and the jury does not find any of them worthy of it? And what to do if a nominated candidate refuses to accept the award?
That organizing this award ceremony in such a small community has its complications also appears from the fact that the SHTA now says that people whom have been awarded before, could be nominated again.
We’re not saying that some people are unworthy of receiving multiple awards. But we think that it would have been wise to leave journalists out if the mix.

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