Democracy in its true sense can be undermined by many factors two of which are unaccountability and lack of transparency. These are prevalent in the Guyanese society. Political jargon has for years confused the average citizen and only serves to push them towards greater bewilderment, and make way for the government to operate on its own terms and conditions thereby not adhering to the interests of the people. Why am I saying all of this? It is to show that Stabroek News’ campaign over the withdrawal of ads from the government is justified and was all along led with integrity and guts.
Since the beginning of the issue I have been following with keen interest to see at what point the matter will culminate. But I was greatly miffed by the report I read in the Stabroek News edition of Monday October 15, 2007 and this resulted in the penning of this letter. The article on page 2 stated that GINA’s press release reiterated the government’s position on the manner of distribution of adverts namely that it was based on circulation numbers. I will not add to SN’s arguments which are strong, factual and can be proven with evidence. What I will add in this letter, however, is an incident that I have witnessed first hand which shows that Stabroek News is indeed being unfairly treated and is being subject to a malicious disciplinary action by the government which clearly breaches the Declaration of Chapultepec. This will further add strength to and justify Stabroek News’ position.
My first contention is that employees of GINA have stated repeatedly to me that they simply follow the orders of government with no questions asked. Therefore when the government indicated that no State adverts should be placed in the Stabroek News their reaction was simply to execute. Whether such instruction has merit or not is of no concern to them.
Secondly, I was employed by one of the government’s agencies at the time the withdrawal of the adverts was taking effect.
I was present when the instructions from a higher government official were handed down to the agency. The personnel responsible for placing adverts in the print media was instructed that they must be placed in the Kaieteur News and The Mirror. This was after the government postulated that the decision was purely based on circulation numbers.
It was then I realised that The Mirror was not a relic of the past as I initially thought but it was actually being published by the PPP. I really thought that this newspaper was defunct until that moment.
It doesn’t require rocket science for one to infer that SN was (and still is) being punished for something. It wasn’t long before the personnel from the agency were in contact with the personnel from The Mirror and soon adverts were carried in that paper.
One therefore wonders what the aim of the government is. Having stated boldly that the decision to place adverts in dailies is based on the widest circulation I can confirm that the given reason is misleading, mischievous and calls for scrutiny. I challenge GINA to print the circulation figures of The Mirror and compare it with those from Stabroek News and let the public decide on the aim of the government. Without seeing a copy of The Mirror in over a decade I am positive the average Guyanese can count The Mirror’s figures with fingers and toes. It can be seen therefore that the placement of adverts has nothing to do with the widest circulation. A check of The Mirror will reveal that state ads are being placed in this paper.
Stabroek News is being punished for its work. After all, the calibre of your newspaper captures the more intelligent people, the wider world, the diplomatic community, the free thinkers, the many who are influential in decision making in higher places and the many who view your newspaper as being authoritative, truthful, professional and tackling the issues as they are without tweaking the content for any organisation or individual. These are the same attributes borne by international and highly accredited news agencies like The BBC, Reuters.
(name and address supplied)