After conducting an analysis of articles published in the Stabroek News, the People’s Progressive Party yesterday accused the newspaper of being anti-government with the intention of removing the ruling party from power.
At a press conference at Freedom House, General Secretary, Clement Rohee said that “as General Secretary of the party I have expressed on many occasions the view that the Stabroek News in particular has an agenda …about removing the PPP from government and replacing (it) with the People’s National Congress.”
He stated that the PPP conducted a survey of coverage of the three main political parties and that out of 68 articles published from September to Decem-ber of 2013 the Stabroek News coverage of the PPP/C was less than 10 percent. Rohee stated that “in the four-month period the Stabroek News covered these political parties 68 times, the PNC/APNU has 68 percent of the coverage, the AFC has 24 percent of the coverage when
the party with the largest amount of people in the National Assembly, the PPP has less than 10 percent of the coverage.”
Rohee proclaimed that “the Stabroek News totally blanked the PPP press conferences from the newspapers pages” during the four-month period. He said that the “analysis” was done to showcase that the Stabroek News had departed from an unbiased position since, he said, the US National Endowment for Democracy facilitated the newspaper’s establishment. This is not the first time the General Secretary has attacked the media. At a press conference on October 8, 2013, Rohee stated that the party was looking into the monitoring and regulating of the press.
When Stabroek News asked the General Secre-tary what was the party’s comparative analysis of the other newspapers in Guyana in relation to coverage of the PPP’s press conferences, Rohee stated “we don’t have any complaints on the other newspapers covering our press conferences.” When Capitol News asked why the Stabroek News was subjected to the review, Rohee said “We noticed a trend, to establish the trend obviously we have to do the comparative analysis”. When pressed for a methodology by Stabroek News of the party’s assessment, he noted that column inches were used to decide whether the PPP was receiving adequate coverage in the dailies.
When pressed further to explain just how the analysis was done Rohee stated that the press briefing would be moving on from that particular line of questioning and that he did not want to get into what he referred to as “technicalities.”
The Stabroek News reporter requested a copy of the analysis and its findings but this was denied.
Stabroek News Editor-in-Chief Anand Persaud in a comment said that the General Secretary’s accusations were based on hopelessly flawed analysis. Persaud noted that Rohee had declared that Stabroek News had “totally blanked” PPP press conferences from its pages. Persaud said the truth is that Stabroek News carried 12 articles from PPP press conference in the period that Rohee referenced – September to December 2013 (the list of news items can be seen at the end of the story.) Persaud said that if this was the quality of research that the ruling party and Rohee were bringing to the public there had to be a serious problem somewhere at Freedom House. The Editor-in-Chief said that the party needed to urgently review its research department.
Persaud said the newspaper is convinced that adequate coverage has been extended to the PPP. He said that SN has been repeatedly described by international monitors as according fair coverage to all parties in the periods that they have monitored and this has been a hallmark of the newspaper’s 27-year existence. The Editor-in-Chief stated that the coverage extended to party press conferences was also a function of news value. In the case of the ruling party, a significant amount of the material presented at press conferences is simply a rehash of statements made by government functionaries including by Rohee in his dual role as Minister of Home Affairs. Persaud added that the mere holding of a press conference did not mean that it had to be reported particularly if there was nothing of news value.
As for Rohee’s claim that the Stabroek News wanted the PPP out and replaced by the PNC, Persaud said that the newspaper has repeatedly had to address such outlandish statements in the past from both the PPP and the PNC. The newspaper, he said, does not advocate on behalf of any party.
The Editor-in-Chief also corrected a remark by Rohee that the Stabroek News was established with a cheque from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Persaud said that newspaper was set up through the industry of its late founder David de Caires and many others and the NED merely granted a sum to facilitate the initial printing of the newspaper by the Trinidad Express.
News items carried by Stabroek News in the period referenced by PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee
APNU alarm over youth joblessness “incredulous” after Amaila Vote –PPP
Non-assent of opposition bills is not political PPP says
PPP plans proactive campaigning
PPP hosting 21st anniversary observance countrywide
PPP wants media regulated
Janet Jagan national contribution still evident
PPP sets up integrity commission
Stand on the side of the law –PPP urges opposition on anti-money laundering bill
PPP accused city council of failure to act ahead of flash floods
Rohee urges IMC for Georgetown
Guyana corruption rating skewed PPP says
PPP hails growing prosperity