Love her or hate her, with her SMN-News.com website, Bibi Shaw has become a prominent fixture in the media landscape of St. Maarten and a force to be reckoned with when it comes to exposing misappropriations, wrongdoings and victimization, especially in government and government-owned corporations and entities.
Because of her role in creating and making headline news in 2018, Bibi Shaw is StMaartenNews.com’s Person of the Year 2018. Bibi Shaw is fearless in her writing and publishes news other media outlets are hesitant or downright afraid to publish. This form of writing has often been downplayed as ‘yellow journalism‘. Her website SMN-News.com is often disdainfully characterized as a ‘blog‘.
But what is a blog actually? According to Google’s online dictionary, the definition of a blog reads as follows: “A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”
Last time we checked, the stats on our website and the hits on our email newsletter articles showed consistently that it is exactly the news that is written in a format that is easily read and understood by readers, because of the informal and conversational style, is what is widely read the most. What one calls ‘yellow journalism’, we call ‘melee’ in St. Maarten and the fact of the matter is: St. Maarten people love melee and time and time again, melee remain popular among the masses.
So describing a news website as a blog, as though somehow what is written holds no credence, in this day and age of social media is actually a compliment. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp, it is exactly the blogstyle news articles that are the most popular and widely shared on these social media platforms.
However, this is not the reason why Bibi Shaw and her website holds value for the people of St. Maarten. Bibi does not conjure up ‘stories’ out of thin air. There is actually always a truth basis for her stories. In an interview with StMaartenNews.com, Bibi explained that she always has sources and documents to back up her stories.
This bring us to the most important point we want to make with our selection of Bibi Shaw as Person of the Year 2018.
St. Maarten is riddled with integrity issues. It is not for nothing that an Integrity Chamber is being set up here on St. Maarten. The main reason being there is simply an urgent need for such an entity on St. Maarten.
The problem we have here on St. Maarten is that when people attempt to expose integrity issues in their workplace, they themselves quickly become the target of extreme forms of victimization. There are many cases of people being persecuted by their peers and superiors for calling attention to certain wrongdoings. Therefore, exposing such failings and flaws in a system is an ungrateful and thankless act and many are wary of doing the right thing when it is necessary to do so for fear of victimization. Blowing the whistle in St. Maarten does not earn you accolades, awards or brownie points. To the contrary, you get a ton load of brown gooey stuff all over yourself, literally and figuratively.
This is where Bibi Shaw comes into play. Whatever their reasons are for passing on certain information to Bibi, over the years Bibi has consistently managed the protect her sources, fend off queries about the credibility of her sources and dodge the legal bullets when shots were fired at her for publishing certain stories, especially about politicians and other people in positions of power.
It is not for nothing that Bibi Shaw has managed to win five court cases of charges of defamation of character brought forward against her. Fortunately, SMN-News.com is a French company and therefore operates under the jurisdiction of the French legal system where any presumed victim of libel or defamation has the right to offer a rebuttal to refute any story published in the media without having to resolve to take legal actions.
Until Dutch St. Maarten lawmakers implement a ‘whistleblower’-policy to protect whistleblowers and until the Integrity Chamber is fully functional, which under the current circumstances can still take years (to the chagrin of Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops and his boss, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte), there will always be a need for a Bibi Shaw and her SMN-News.com website.
When StMaartenNews.com was launched in 2017 in the aftermath of hurricane Irma, our newsdesk was often inundated with phone calls and emails from people pleading for us to write about their issues, to expose certain cases they were involved in and the perceived injustice they were experiencing. However, paradoxically, these same people refused to publicly come forward and openly tell their stories. The main reason always was: they did not want to be victimized any more than they already were. Or they did not want their families and friends to suffer the victimization they were experiencing themselves.
We remember that there was another ‘blogsite’ before SMN-News.com called SXM Private Eye, which offered many people a platform to anonymously vent their frustration and sound the alarm about corruption, nepotism, favoritism, immoral behavior and integrity issues. We remember also that the publisher behind this blogsite at a given moment lived in fear for his life, eventhough he did everything in his power to hide his identity. Apparently, his identity eventually become known to certain people and we believed he fled the island. SXM Private Eye now seems to be just a figment of our imagination. However, SMN-News.com is real and the need for exposure of corruption, wrongdoings and integrity issues is greater than ever. Bibi is adamant that she does not fear victimization and has vowed to continue with her publishing work. She does however lament the fact that despite her constantly writing and exposing issues on her website, the stories are the talk of the town for a couple of days and then everyone goes over to the order of the day and everything is business as usual in St. Maarten. In other words, no one does anything about what was written. Nevertheless, Bibi will continue with her writings.
StMaartenNews.com will also continue writing about Bibi Shaw as we will be publishing the full interview we had with Bibi Shaw at her private residence in our next edition of our email newsletter. Stay tuned for more as we revealed the other side of Bibi Shaw that few people know about nor realize she has. The title of this series of interviews is called “The thing about Bibi….”.