Anthony should call a press briefing about management of Caribbean Press

Dear Editor,

I agree completely with the sentiments expressed in the letter by Sharir Chan (‘Re-launch the Caribbean Press as a true public entity’ SN, July 8) that the dust needs to settle on the Caribbean Press.  Common sense says that the mechanism can clearly achieve its potential with a change of management as well as management and operational structure.  My perennial recommendation has been that it needs to be locally established and its operations overseen by a resident board, accessible by and accountable to the people of Guyana.

Sadly, that solution might not be as simple in reality as Mr Chan believes and I as had originally hoped.  In order for the Press to move forward and into the realm of public scrutiny, there needs to be full accountability on what obtained before, even if simply as a means of identifying what pitfalls to avoid in the future.

The problem is, the evasiveness of the principals of the Press, Minister of Culture Dr Frank Anthony and Executive Editor Dr David Dabydeen, tends to be indicative of a deliberate manoeuvring.  Both men have over the past half year publicly invited input into the management of the Press yet we see no evidence that this invitation was anything but a public relations tactic.

The Minister has given press conferences on various programmes under his portfolio, including most recently Carifesta, yet there has been no word on what progress has been made towards facilitating the very constructive engagement on the Press that he last called for over a month ago.

Additionally, what has emerged in my own private investigation into the Press is that the reputations of a great many influential people are threatened and hence there has been a deliberate reticence on the part of the supposedly independent media in investigating and publishing what has gone wrong. Vested interests and the retention of a certain status quo have triumphed over both the public interest and the duty to seek and report the truth, without fear or favour.

Dr Dabydeen is currently in the country and I expect that he, as promised in letters published earlier this year, will during his visit launch the anthologies of fiction and poetry of resident writers edited by Petamber Persaud, and said to have been published by the Caribbean Press.

I humbly suggest that he and Minister Anthony, at that public launch of these new titles, also host a press briefing where they can clarify any misconceptions they feel might have been raised in relation to the management of the entity.   That done, they should then invite stakeholders to a public meeting geared at charting the way forward.  I have indicated my willingness to engage, both publicly and privately, and this continues to be my position.

Yours faithfully,
Ruel Johnson

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