Dr. Steve Surujbally, in his role as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, recently called on the media to practise their art in a fair way. So far so good. But I was struck by one statement in the Chairman’s comments. He said that “emotion is counter to lucidity. It is incompatible with the truth…”
This is a strange observation: the term “emotion” is a very wide concept and the idea that it is counter to lucidity does not hold up in the real world. In fact the whole history of the Fourth Estate as he alluded to the media was born in the throes of passion against the tyranny of the monarchy among other vested elite interests.
There is also a fundamental disagreement between those who believe that there can be a single stream of reportage or that truth can be “dispassionately” executed, because the very “dispassion” can result in deliberate evasion of the truth. That in itself is a form of censorship whether self-censorship or one that is administratively designed. So what should the press be dispassionate about? And what does Dr. Surujbally mean by emotion? For an editorial, letter or column to be angered by the ban on Channel 6 TV and to express it sharply is to elude Dr Surujbally’s standards?
In other words, the activity of the press is contextual, culturally bound, and exists within (and responds to) a power structure. Is it not raw emotion and anger at an oppressive act, expressed in direct terms that forced the government to rescind the ban on Sharma’s TV?
The English politician, poet and novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton once wrote “Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity and truth accomplishes no victories without it.”