It is with a great sense of compulsion that I wish to draw attention to what I consider to be some deficiencies with regard to your coverage of the ruling PPP/C 2011 election campaign. While it’s difficult to resist the temptation of noting the many cases of glaringly biased reporting against the government, two instances should not be allowed to go unnoticed.
The more recent of the two relates to the rally held at Lusignan on Sunday, October 23, 2011. Thousands flocked the venue in a massive show of support for the PPP/C. I am sure that you and your reporter are not oblivious to the vast expanse that constitutes the tarmac. By any stretch of the imagination, its magnitude is overwhelmingly huge for such an event.
The rally commenced at about 16:30 hrs under scorching heat with a few thousands in attendance. As sunset approached, the crowd grew and the challenge for space became obvious. Police barricades were placed along the southern edge of the tarmac that merges into the East Coast carriageway as a means of ensuring that those in attendance did not encroach on the main road. Unfortunately, this could not have been avoided due to the overwhelming magnitude of the crowd.
During the rally, police officers frequently asked that the Chairman of the proceedings plead with the large number of persons who could not have been accommodated on the tarmac and who were forced to occupy the East Coast carriageway in the vicinity of the rally site, to remove and stay north of the barricades. This already daunting task became impossible since space on the tarmac was virtually non-existent.
The presence of those on the main road snarled traffic. Eventually the police were left with no option but to divert traffic within the vicinity, to the Railway Embankment. These scenarios clearly point to the fact that thousands gave up their Sunday afternoon pleasures to attend the rally. Independent assessments put the attendance at 25,000-30,000. The Kaieteur News, which has been unrelenting in its bashing of government, estimated the crowd to be “in the tens of thousands…”
Simple grammar dictates that the Kaieteur News estimate puts the crowd at a minimum of 20,000! Given this, it is woefully mind-boggling that your report in the Monday, October 24, 2011 edition stated the said crowd to be “..several hundred persons”! The question is, Editor, why would you describe the attendance as “several hundred” as against “thousands”? Such description can only be deemed a deliberate attempt to mislead your readers and to have them believe that the PPP/C is not attracting large crowds.
On many occasions, your newspaper has been adamant about its adherence to professional and unbiased reporting. However, given the report in question, it is clear that your paper has failed in this regard and has transgressed such boundaries in a blatant attempt to misinform. This now pellucid bias against the government and the PPP/C was also glaringly evident in your coverage of the rally in Linden on Sunday, October 16, 2011. In that edition you carried one photograph of the rally as against three for an AFC event.
Editor, while no one can dictate what you do or do not publish since editorial control is in your possession, however, in the realms of professionalism and unbiased journalism in which your newspaper tries to pride itself, one would expect no less. Perusal of your paper’s content suggests strong empathy for the opposition, especially the AFC. If such allegiance is untrue, then how do you explain your obvious bias?
We remain of the view that the description hundreds, as opposed to thousands, is more accurate.