Report based on ‘private conversation’

Dear Editor,

I just would like to pen a short letter to register my disappointment over the quality of reporting by your sports writer Mr Marlon Munroe. In his article ‘GCB’s Ali not told to abandon office‘ (Sunday Stabroek, September 4) Mr Munroe took the liberty of quoting a less than a minute private telephone conversation that he had with me on Saturday. At no time did he say that he would be using the contents of this private conversation to write an article. But I saw in the article that, “Contacted yesterday, Dr Antony said….” This smacks of unethical and unprofessional conduct.

But even if he is forgiven for quoting a private conversation, he stated in the article that, “Asked about the exact status of the GCB, Dr Anthony said that the ruling of Chang should be revisited.”  This is a very clear misrepresentation of what I said to Mr Munroe. I explicitly told him to refer to (be guided by) the judgment of the Honourable Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang.  I am therefore puzzled why Mr Munroe is deliberately trying to misconstrue my words.

I urge you Editor to get him to desist from such mischief.

Yours faithfully,
Frank Anthony
Minister of Culture Youth and Sport

Editor’s note

Mr Munroe called Minister Anthony on Saturday and asked him for a comment on the status of the GCB, which in accordance with standard journalistic practice in such circumstances is understood to be a request for responses on the record. If the Minister wanted his remarks to go unattributed or be off the record, the onus is on him to so indicate; however, at no point did he do this.

It is true that the Minister told Mr Munroe to “refer to” Chief Justice Chang’s ruling, and this statement was reflected in the report which appeared. The use of the term “revisited” in the story may be the consequence of a misunderstanding, for which Stabroek News apologises.

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