Government ends 2012 with its draconian abuse of the Guyana Chronicle, our State newspaper, showing no sign of relief.
2012 marks another year gone by with this society suffering from the backwardness of its Government stifling the ideas of citizens.
In refusing to budge on opening up the State media to citizens, who voted in democratic elections, the Government maintains a State diktat over the ideas that contribute to our development process.
The free and independent media is a vital organ, a crucial artery that pumps the lifeblood of the democratic process through the body politic. Stifling the media’s free and independent function in society is silencing the voice of the body politic. Society cannot afford to have its voice become any kind of mouthpiece, especially of a select few of the power elites. For then the other members of society’s body politic would suffer because no voice would cry out about their pains, their needs, their wants. When people of power and wealth use their economic magic wand to choreograph the media’s voice into singing a chorus praising the conductors, society suffers terribly.
The media developed into a powerful engine of the democratic process in the United States of America, and over the past 200 odd years became the champion and the hero of the free, democratic and civilized world.
The US media became so trusted that once the technology came along, US culture spread its worldview and social norms got pushed through the US media to every corner of the entire world. The US media became a global voice that effectively shaped the thinking of the global community. Most people on the planet reverently accepted the news, views and comments of the US media with little question. The global village had developed a sophisticated voice that could be trusted to tell the truth. The US media, after the ‘Watergate’ scandal that toppled the Richard Nixon government, rode a wave of such respect and reverence that journalists became celebrities and icons of society. The glamour of international TV enhanced this image.
But, much more than a powerful voice to influence the minds of the masses, the media developed as a powerful lobby tool, championing rights, justice and social compassion.
The world’s economy exists on the foundation of marketing and advertising through the media. Not only was the media a purveyor of free thinking and the American way of life, but newspapers, radio, magazines, newsletters, TV and the Internet became sales channels for a world accelerating along a sharp upward curve in its material living standards.
As the knowledge economy took hold and the industrial society gave way to the technology age, the media became the primary vehicle to shape the world’s economic well-being. It became the engine of the marketplace.
But then geopolitics got in the way, and the international media lost its perceived independence and watchdog ways. The US media suddenly pulled on an ugly mask and started shouting to the world in favour of a few powerful and wealthy controllers. The voice of the global society sold itself to those with economic clout, and the rest of the world could only stand by and watch passively, silently.
Today, giant global media corporations have swallowed up community newspapers, for example.
The result was that the media in 2003 donned military uniforms, climbed into military vehicles, signed statements of allegiance to military officers, and became “embedded” in military units attacking and invading Iraq. The day the media settled to be called ‘the embedded ones’ in a military convoy became the day the democratic process in the free world suffered its gravest shock and most dangerous threat.
But the global community can still resort to small independent community media and the Internet, for a free, independent voice. The Internet is playing a particularly vital democratic role in shaping public opinion.
The arrogance of those who would even attempt to control free speech and independent enquiry cannot be laced with wisdom. So far the Internet remains relatively free and unhindered to search out and report the dark secrets of our world.
But the Internet may one day come under heavy censorship, possibly through legislation, or surveillance.
Yet, human beings being who we are, one can expect truth seekers will still find ways to get the secrets exposed, possibly through books, as investigative journalists, like Watergate’s Bob Woodward, now do.
As democracy becomes the instinctive political system the world over, we must lobby, campaign and closely guard the role of the media. We must make sure our society encourages and cultivates free, open media. We must see that it is in free, open media we become empowered, with a strong voice. The free media allow ideas, knowledge, debate and conversations to shape the body politic.
Powerful, monopolizing bureaucracies such as Governments and corporations fear such openness, such access of the ordinary man and woman to so powerful an institution. But we cannot allow the wishes of the powerful to override the multitudes of small voices that make up the citizenry.
We must demand that the Guyana Government free the Guyana Chronicle, and the State media. We must demand that Government bureaucrats free the media, so that citizens get access to the pages of their own newspaper.
It is ethically and morally disgraceful for Government to continue to stifle the Guyana Chronicle.
How could the members of Cabinet face the nation with such guilt on their conscience?
For 28 years the People’s National Congress government had done exactly the same thing. In fact the PNC set the tone and behaviour for media control that now goes on. But we expected Mr David Granger to act to correct this, because he knows the value of a free flow of ideas across the society.
Yet, sadly, 2012 comes to a close and neither the Opposition nor the Government shows any resolve to end this dark chapter of our history. In 2013, we cannot let up the struggle to free the soul of the Guyana Chronicle.