I refer to letter of Freddie Kissoon, ‘I did a short stint editing letters at KN’ (SS Mar 11) wherein he made inaccurate statements on or about me.
Mr Kissoon claims I have “a preoccupation” or “obsession” with him because I penned too many letters about him. The letters were not on him but to correct his interpretation and understanding of social, political and economic theories as well as historiographical and factual errors. I have been writing in the Guyana and international media since 1976 penning some 10,000 letters and articles. I never attacked anyone personally and never penned misinformation. In my years in journalism, I never came across a columnist such as Mr Kissoon who penned as many inaccurate comments as him.
Mr Kissoon admits he blocked my letters when he was letters editor of KN. The very articles he rejected were published in other media outlets. So the claim that the content of my letters was “sickening” is not truthful.
On the issue of censorship, Kissoon admits that he approached Ms Tusika Martin, editor of the Guyana Times, chastising her for carrying so many letters on him by me. Mr Kissoon also admitted that he influenced Dale Andrews as KN letters editor to stop carrying my responses to his misinformation. No editor who is schooled in journalism blocks letters or censors views except in authoritarian states. I served as editor for several publications for decades. I never blocked letters or censored views. Even the Chronicle under the PPP administration allowed a right to response.
On the issue of obsession, Kissoon penned some 69 articles on or about me over a ten year period. During the same period, I penned 34 letters that responded to Kissoon. They were not on Kissoon but the contents of his commentaries. So if obsession is about numbers, then Mr Kissoon is obsessive about me.
Mr Kissoon also misinforms on the encounter with Mr Glen Lall who never arranged for a meeting for me to present a complaint to his staff. In a phone complaint, Mr Lall asked that I visit his office and he would serve as “a mediator” between Kissoon and myself. Mr Kissoon and I met briefly in Mr Lall’s presence. He asked us if we had problems with each other to which we both answered negatively. It was understood that my letters would be carried in KN. On that very afternoon, Mr Lall was holding a staff meeting and invited me to be an observer. The meeting was on the structural operations (assignments, etc) of the paper and not on me. I was not a speaker or a subject of discussion. Varied issues and complaints about operations were discussed. Mr Lall asked if there was anything else staff would like addressed about the paper. Mr Kissoon raised his hand and said as letters editor he would not carry my letters contending they would negatively affect KN readership. Kissoon did read from two letters (cannot remember if others were cited).
I asked Mr Lall for an excuse from the meeting since I had to prepare for my travel, and as such I had “to leave the meeting quietly” so as not to disturb its proceedings.
For the record, almost all of the letters rejected by Mr Kissoon were published elsewhere. There is a principle in journalism called the right of response. It is practised in SN and the Guyana Times. The editor of KN should have carried Ms de Caires’ response to Mr Kissoon and my letters to correct factual errors.