In its reportage on the Swiss survey SN chose only the negative aspects

Dear Editor,

It is amazing how a newspaper can easily gulp down a piece of information that came its way through the grapevine or a deep throat source and pretend that that information is credible and deemed publishable.

The gullible in society have a tendency to believe everything published in a newspaper including “What the Stars say”. Many go so far to believe that if the story weren’t true, it would not have been published!

In the quest to be competitive some Media Houses take advantage of this simplistic approach and this explains why from time to time newspapers have a tendency to publish everything under the sun so long as it can increase their circulation and profitability. It is clear therefore that nowadays it’s not about balanced and objective reporting; rather it’s all about increasing profits and circulation. The name of the game has changed dramatically over the years. But dangers lurk on the horizon. These changes bring serious challenges.  Note for example the “News of the World” scandal that broke in the United Kingdom not so long ago in connection with the phone hacking scandal which rocked British politics and disgusted the public. As scandals and credibility go, so does balanced and objective reporting. This twin foundation principle of Journalism has been made the “sacrificial lamb” in the race from the bottom for increased circulation and profitability.

A good example of this was demonstrated when the Stabroek News published three or four excerpts from a rather dubious “survey” done by two Swiss nationals representing a body called the “Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies” in Geneva, Switzerland.

The survey speaks quite favourably about Guyana’s track record on public safety compared to other Caricom countries.   But Stabroek News made no reference to that.

In addition, the Authors of the survey highlighted the fact that no institutional nor youth gangs exist in Guyana. Mention is also made of the positive anti-drug strategies the Government is pursuing.   But Stabroek News chose to ignore that.

Finally, the Authors of the survey provided a reasonable historical synopsis of the PNC’s association with gang violence.   Once again, Stabroek News overlooked that.

The Stabroek News in its reportage on the survey chose only those negative aspects which put the Government in a bad light. That’s being political isn’t it?

The claim by many that an opposition media has emerged in Guyana should come as no surprise to Guyanese; in fact, this is a common phenomenon in many countries around the world. It is not uncommon for Media Houses to seek to influence the political process in a country. Take the case of Murdoch’s “News of the World” scandal; Zac Goldsmith, Member of Parliament of the governing Conservative Party had this to say;

“I think “News of the World” Organization is toxic on almost every level. I think it’s an organization which corrupted our political system (and) made it impossible for people to have faith in our Police”.

In the case of the latter, both the Kaieteur News and Stabroek News shadow the “News of the World”, they have both worked overtime to make it impossible for people to have faith in our Police.   That’s political isn’t it?

In Guyana’s case both Kaieteur News and Stabroek News have long established their political agendas. An assessment of the stories carried by these two newspapers would show that over the years they have published more stories critical of the Government than it has of the Opposition parties. It is as if the Opposition parties do not exist for the purpose of commentary and if they do, it is primarily to give them a slap on the wrist, promote them and give prominence to their statements and activities in a positive way.    That’s political isn’t it?

As for the City Council and its wretched policies towards the City of Georgetown, the Stabroek News and the Kaieteur News have little or nothing to say about the mess which the Municipality has visited on the City. Remember it is the Opposition that is in control of the City Council.   That’s political isn’t it?

Therein lies the political agenda of the Kaieteur News and Stabroek News they may be competing with each other for greater circulation and profitability but they have one thing in common; and that is to remove the PPP/C from Government. They are no different from the Sunday Argosy and the Evening Post of the 1960’s.
British politicians have said in the past that they “feared criticizing Murdoch’s newspapers in case they were targeted”. Those in Guyana who have a penchant for talking about fears of being targeted should put this in their pipe and smoke it.

Yours faithfully,
Clement Rohee

Editor’s note:
SN is satisfied that its news items on the report referred to by Minister Rohee, In Transit – Gangs and Criminal Networks in Guyana, were balanced and accurately represented the main findings.  It is perplexing that the minister declares the survey to be “rather dubious” but then complains about favourable sections being omitted from the news items.
The Minister accuses SN of working overtime to make it impossible for people to have faith in the police. The only manner in which SN could have possibly accomplished this is by reporting unflinchingly on the astonishing lapses and gross unprofessionalism of some members of the police force. It has no apologies for shining a spotlight on this. SN does not engage in the payment of inducements to policemen for information which is what News of the World was involved in in addition to phone hacking.
Minister Rohee then goes on to state that Stabroek News’ agenda is to remove the PPP/C from government.  The Minister’s descent into this flight of fancy is astounding. The newspaper has no agenda to remove any government from office. One of the pillars the newspaper was founded on was to hold the government accountable. It did this prior to the PPP/C’s accession to office and is continuing to do so.  Since governments the world over – not the opposition – are held primarily accountable for the state of governance in the country, Ministry Rohee’s views about media coverage might have been shaped by the fact that he has been in senior positions in the government for the last 20 years, and in which positions his performance has justifiably come in for serious and sustained criticism.   

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