The domestic media scene

Dear Editor,

Local print media are on the move here in hazy lazy Guyana.  Some-times there is the impressive and solid; then in the ensuing editions, there is the scurrilous and the careless; there is the suspicious, too.  Words are blurred, meanings lost, and objectives obscure.  Motives are another thing, and can range from the soaring to the titillating, with many a stop around the demeaning.  Amidst all of this, it is business as usual in the paper world.

One paper product is straight-laced, almost to a fault.  It can double over in stiches.  It speaks of continuing dedication to a serious quality product, notwithstanding prejudices and an equal commitment to the straight and narrow road. It steadfastly refuses to tamper with the edges of any envelopes; no pushing there. Sometimes, it is so blue-blooded that it can cause readers to see red.  In a sand (better make that mud) and sandals society it insists on silk-stockinged journalistic décor and studied resistance to flair, or frills, or the frivolous.  Long ago, its management decided that such is better served by peers in the sludge and wood-ants printing business.  Wood-ants, as Guyanese know too well, can eat out of house and home, and a lot of other things too. Reputations come to mind, especially for the hapless; such a wide net is customarily cast that more than a few innocents have been snared.

Talking about peers in the print racket, I confess to not being familiar with what most of them look like, sell for, or peddle to the public.  And that includes state-managed sheets.  There was, and still remains, sharp distaste for how some of principals and princes of poisonous pulp came into being. There might be a few closet princesses in there too.  But I digress.  Here is the long and short of my position: when I scan (and that is enough) a paper I seek the enlightenment of news, and not the dogmatism of ideology. I can always get that from 1st and 2nd Chronicles in the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament.  Then again, there is also Marx or the Wall Street Journal.  My belief system and conscience are better served by handing over the equivalent of the price called for to buy one of the local rags to less fortunate brethren.

Editor, I recognize that to stay crisp and fresh in the increasingly Paleolithic paper age, one has to be in the black.  In Guyana, being in the black has translated to writing in yellow about what is yellower.  There are now these palpable and irrefutable examples of overactive journalistic bile ducts in runaway mode.  The profession is jaundiced to such an alarming degree that large segments of it have lost balance and with that vision.

Today there is talk of the emerging phenomenon of fake news.  Truth be told, and if memory still serves me right, fake news, fake opinions, fake people, and generalized fakery were pioneered by the local media right here. This was so expansive that the print media did not possess sufficient bandwidth to get the fake messages across; cyberspace had to be recruited to get in the action.  Anyone who posits that Guyanese media professionals (a dangerous leap into the unknown with that last word) are not creative lacks either judgment or imagination.  It must be recognized for what it is: connecting dots, which are made up along the way, one dollop of ink at a time.  Clearly, some media houses buy their ink by the barrel; they do not need oil money.  That is, if they buy them at all.  I wonder what Mr Statia would have to say about that, or the plainclothes sleuths sniffing around out there.

Unfortunately for Guyanese society, duly enchanted, a lot of ink is gleefully spilled and smeared by resentful and rancorous practitioners functioning on frequent flyer bona fides.  It is instructive (and a source of wonder to me) as to the length of time that some can harbour anger and maintain incitements towards acrimony. Testosterone does get in the way of dopamine.  From all indications, there are more than a few who have enthusiastically crossed the line from writers to entertainers, and when the latter falls flat, operating as sorcerers fills the space and fits the bill just as well, if not better. It is where insult and the occult have now made it into the mainstream of the media menu presented on a shabby platter regularly. Stated differently, these can be real life and very credible jumbie stories.  Thus, there is the spectacle of media houses (of ill repute) becoming the news themselves through one publicity stunt after another. Only the ‘stunted’ are fooled.  What cannot be imagined is still (somehow) concocted.  I promise myself to start trying that prestidigitation way someday.  I might get real good at it.

On another note regarding the world of the written word, I have always taken the position that none (myself included) should advance to advocate against corruption, corrupt practices, and corrupters, if there are serious ongoing issues with those who are railing against such sordid realities. History should not matter in the long run, as former transgressors, including egregious ones (ole known dutty people) can and do turn a new page and become born again.  On the other hand, there should be no place in the Fourth Estate for those who do not change their evil ways. In such instances, those swathes of the Fourth Estate might be just as irredeemable as most of the sugar estates.  Enough said!

In sum, as the domestic printed media scene is surveyed, there is the clean, the dirty, and the naked.  There is also the rambunctious and the infectious. Last, there is the thoroughly revealing, and that is a sight all unto itself.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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