Page One Comment
This newspaper has already taken issue with the suggestion that has been made in some quarters that media reporting on the current CLICO (Guyana) and Hand-in-Hand matters is somehow deliberately designed to compromise the country’s financial infrastructure. We can understand the anxiety of both the government and the various players in the financial system that it does not appear that the local financial infrastructure is compromised and that is why we wholeheartedly endorse the view that every effort should be made on the part of the media to be honest, professional and accurate in the dissemination of information on the aforementioned matters.
That having been said we find the various criticisms of the media’s “irresponsible” approach to reporting on these issues both convenient and self-serving on the part of those who have laid those charges. Indeed, none of those who have pointed fingers at the media have troubled themselves to make the point publicly, that, invariably, when matters of public interest pertaining to the financial sector arise – particularly when these have to do with fraud or alleged fraud – the preference, always, is to create, as far as possible, a total news blackout. Their proclivity for secrecy leaves us, in far too many instances, in a position where we have no choice but to light our own candles in the darkness.
In this context we have said, nonetheless, that while there is a paucity of media operatives who are trained in the cogent analysis of financial issues, the threat to the integrity of the financial system lies as much in the culture of closed-mouthedness that attends the posture of the administrators of many if not most of the financial institutions, as it does in the threat of misreporting.
And while the state-run National Communications Network insists on continually re-running footage of public and private sector officials castigating the media for misreporting on the CLICO and Hand-in-Hand issues, what they do not realize is that some of us – both in the media and in the financial sector – have moved on past the stage of playing the blame game and have decided that there is a need to do something positive.
Not everyone in the financial sector accepts, for example, that there exists some dark media conspiracy to derail the financial system and even Private Sector Commission Chairman Gerry Gouveia whose criticism of current media reporting on financial issues was perhaps the bluntest and harshest of all appears to have accepted that misreporting ought not to be equated with malice, a point that appears altogether lost to NCN. Secondly, the PSC Chairman now appears sufficiently convinced that his remarks on NCN about the media on a recent television programme were incomplete – to say the least – that he is now seeking to bring the media and the business sector together to forge a better understanding of each other’s roles in ensuring that reliable information on the business and financial sectors reach the public.
Perhaps even more noteworthy is the posture taken by Hand-in-Hand Group Chief Executive Officer Keith Evelyn that apart from whatever forum is created, CEOs and other experienced and qualified persons in financial institutions can take time to contribute articles on issues pertaining to the business and financial systems that enhance public understanding of those systems. Mr. Evelyn has been as good as his word and the second instalment of his first contribution is published in this issue.
The point about all this is that even as NCN appears to be doing its best to seek to cast sections of the media as the villain of the piece others have moved on and are seeking to create a new paradigm that would enhance the relationship between the media and the financial sector and, hopefully, improve the quality of the delivery of information to the public.
Of course, and as we have already acknowledged, the system will only work if both sides bring a measure of mutual respect and professionalism to bear in the matter. It does not help one iota when self-serving statements about media conspiracies are made in circumstances where everyone knows that it is decidedly far-fetched to suggest that the media are conspiring to sabotage the financial system and that those who proffer this suggestion are doing no more than grinding an huge, unwieldy axe.
We prefer to believe that both sides – the media and the business and financial sectors – accept that they both need to do much more to ensure that people are not left in a condition of ignorance (which is so often the case) since that, more than any proliferation of inaccurate information, is what has been responsible for creating the voids that give rise to the kind of erosion of public confidence which, in the matter of the financial system, the government is obviously extremely nervous.