Media owners and managers yesterday signed on to a Media Code of Conduct (MCC) which covers a broad range of issues on how they report stories, carry political advertisements and their general conduct during the upcoming elections.
The MCC, which was crafted in 2006 and then modified in 2011, went through further modification over a two-day period this week during a forum at the Georgetown Club where media owners and managers went through the 11-page document and came up with a few changes.
The forum, which was led by Dr Paloma Mohamed, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Guyana, included online news agencies and cable services, which were not encompassed in the original
document. It was also agreed that the media operators would function within the parameters of the code until the convening of the 11th Parliament as opposed to only in the run up to the elections.
The 2011 code mostly addressed the security of the state but this was changed to include security of the journalists, media owners and citizens. Further, a glossary is now included which explains what is meant by gruesome details and inflammatory language among other terms as it was felt this should be defined. Another call, as in 2011, was for the establishment of an independent refereeing panel to be a point of reference for submission of complaints about performance in the reporting and coverage of events during the election campaign. Such a panel was established in 2006.
During the election period the media would be monitored by the recently re-established Media Monitoring Unit which will operate out of the Guyana Elections Commission. It is headed by Lavern Pinto. It is expected that the unit will monitor and send out regular reports naming media houses which have breached the code.