Another dangerous precedent is being set by the government through its latest and somewhat continuous tirade against the two most read newspapers in the country the Kaieteur News (KN) and Stabroek News (SN). In a situation where the managements of both publications have every right to be angry, there seems to be a disenfranchisement with regards to the placement of government advertisements. Maybe they thought that nobody was checking but the SN has tabulated the numbers which the KN also published in one of its recent publications.
The information presented on the chart once again hits the nail to remind us Guyanese of the elected dictatorship we are living in today. The government has insisted that the majority of its advertisements be published in the State media namely the Guyana Chronicle (GC). That is not shocking news. We all know that our taxpayers’ monies are being spent in a newspaper which is probably the least popular publication on news stands and among newspaper vendors to date. Nevertheless, I have continued to send my letters to the GC every single time. However, any letter which, for them, contains anti- government views is not published.
I was amazed to see even the Mirror, the PPP’s organ, receiving advertisements. Who buys the Mirror? Surely, it must be only PPP supporters. That is more money again being wasted to place ads there.
Surely, government advertisements over the years have generated important financial returns for our newspapers. And the government knows this. They, in turn, for one reason or another, hurt these newspapers by diverting our monies to where they are apparently getting little or no value. In Berbice, the government dictates the same procedure. Bharrat Jagdeo and his people are loyal to only one TV station for the airing of their live programmes every time they visit Berbice. The other station in New Amsterdam gets no advertising dollar from them. Yet, this station seems reluctant to make an issue of the matter and maybe rightly so. At times, you must not stoop to levels unbecoming of your ethics in the business.
Then there is the Guyana Times (GT). This is the focal point of this current debate of the placement of government advertisements. This newspaper claims objectivity and being fair and balanced. American cable channel Fox News also claims the same. However, watching programmes on that channel tells a different story. It’s the same kind of barefacedness that is evident here.
In a recent viewpoint on Channel 28, Kit Nascimento stated that the GT publishes educational information in its Sunday issue. That is true. Sometimes I purchase that newspaper to extract that information for my classroom at school. He said that these educational articles are not evident in either the SN or KN. Well, I believe if those two newspapers wanted they’d start pulling off information and photographs from the internet for their Sunday editions too.
I have complimented the GT from its inception for its fresh ideas to the newspaper industry in Guyana. I liked its all-colour and large format. That was until the newspaper became a little too ‘boring’ for me to read. It presented nothing stimulating and in addition, it hardly ever (if at all) reports anything which the Guyanese public wants to read about or wants information about, and it does not criticize the government. That is another dangerous precedent. It is slowly becoming the GC daily. They are not publishing any of my letters as well. To prove my point of the paper not wanting to publish a letter of mine which has already appeared in the GC, SN or KN, I have sent numerous correspondences which I deliberately did not send to the GC, SN, KN or the Catholic Standard. None of them were published in the GT. That confirmed my worst fears. It will only be a matter of time until the inevitable happens.
Guyanese have always relied on the SN and the KN for objectivity, being fair and balanced, investigative and reporting that is of the highest journalistic principles. Circulation and sales, I’m sure, of these two publications combined outweigh that of the GC and the GT combined, maybe even with the Mirror. Then, any government with economic sense would seek to apply our monies more in the SN and KN. But sadly, that is not the case. There seems to be a hidden and dark agenda which is driving more money to the GT and GC in a wasteful manner which in the end shows the depths and lengths ‘they’ would go to punish the SN and KN.
I conclude by saying that this latest stunt is definitely a tactic being used by the PPP government against the SN and KN for standing up to the corruption and mismanagement that is going on in Guyana and actually having the courage to report on it. I stand in solidarity with the SN and KN on this issue and urge more prudent thinking Guyanese and organizations to publicly denounce this latest shenanigan to penalize these two publications, for it is our monies that is being used in a wasteful manner towards other newspapers which have become redundant in their reporting and fairy-like portrayal of the real and horrible situations that exist in Guyana.
I won’t be surprised if the situation with the ads gets worse over the next few months, especially if the SN and KN continue to expose certain things happening in this country.
Leon J. Suseran