Despite overwhelming positive coverage of the incumbent by the state-owned newspaper, the print media did not commit any ethical breaches of the media code for the elections in the almost month-long campaign period leading up to the general elections, according to the Guyana Elections Commission Media Monitoring Unit (MMU).
“…[T]here were no observed ethical breaches of the Code as it relates to the publishing of information that is racially inciting, divisive, inflammatory etc., for which the media is encouraged to maintain, even as the country enters the critical post-elections period,” the MMU said in its report for November 1, 2011 to November 27, 2011.
The report, which is the penultimate evaluation by the MMU for the 2011 general elections, details “observations, analyses and conclusions” of the performances of the print and broadcast media in the coverage of contesting parties in the period leading up to the November 28 polls.
The print media under review were the state-owned Guyana Chronicle, the Guyana Times, Kaieteur News and Stabroek News.
According to the MMU’s findings, in the general news section of the Chronicle, the incumbent PPP/C gained the most positive coverage, with AFC, APNU and TUF, following one after the other. Additionally, the PPP/C gained approximately seven times more positive coverage than AFC, APNU and TUF, combined. At the same time, APNU was inflicted with the highest amount of negative coverage, the MMU found, followed by AFC with the second highest, and PPP/C, with the least. APNU’s negative coverage doubled the same coverage measured for AFC and PPP/C, combined. “Separately, the PPP/C got a positive to negative ratio of coverage of over 194:1; APNU received considerably more negative than positive coverage; AFC, substantially more positive than negative; and, TUF, a large amount of positive, only,” it said.
The Guyana Times’ news section saw the PPP/C receiving the most positive coverage, followed by APNU, AFC and TUF, in that order. “Unsurprisingly, the positive coverage measured for the PPP/C exceeded by far the combined total positive coverage calculated for APNU, AFC and TUF,” MMU noted, while pointing out that APNU gained the highest amount of negative coverage, followed in a descending order by AFC and PPP/C. “The negative coverage that the Party (APNU) was apportioned actually surpassed the same coverage tallied for AFC and PPP/C combined,” it further said. Individually, MMU said the PPP/C scored a positive to negative ratio of coverage of 79:1; APNU’s positive to negative was 3:1; AFC gained considerably more positive than negative publicity; and TUF, gained a relatively large amount of positive coverage and a small amount of neutral.
In Kaieteur News, MMU said APNU was given the most positive coverage, followed by PPP/C, AFC, and TUF. The PPP/C also received the most negative coverage, followed in a decreasing order by APNU, AFC, and TUF. The PPP/C, it pointed out, received five times more negative coverage than APNU, AFC and TUF, combined. “A further examination of the PPP/C’s spread of coverage revealed that the party received extensively more negative than positive coverage,” the MMU said. At the same time, APNU received a positive to negative ratio of coverage of 14:1; AFC, 11:1; and, TUF, approximately 3:1.
Meanwhile, MMU found that in the general news section of Stabroek News, APNU received the most positive coverage, followed by the PPP/C, AFC and TUF. The PPP/C received the most negative coverage, followed by APNU, AFC and TUF, in that order. MMU noted that negative coverage measured for the PPP/C was nearly double the same coverage totalled collectively for APNU, AFC, and TUF. Individually, MMU said the PPP/C scored a positive to negative ratio of coverage of more than 2:1; APNU, 6:1; AFC, 15:1; and TUF approximately, 13:1.