Publishers’ and editors’ role in a free, independent newspaper
I refer to Dr. Prem Misir’s letter of August 22 in the SN (“The media need to engage in a journalism of fact-finding rather than journalism of allegations) in which he observed in relation to the Kaieteur News: “Owner Glenn Lall needs to consistently peruse the pre-published editorials before they reach the dissemination point.”
This is an extremely dangerous position to take and knowing Mr. Lall, I am sure he would ignore Dr. Misir’s advice.
I know of no independent newspaper in a democratic country where democratic governance obtains (Guyana is not democratic for me) where the publisher employs editors who work along with him/her and the publisher overlooks the editor’s daily opinions.
Either he/she has nothing to do with his/her time or the editors he/she employs have no dignity, no level of understanding of what is the motto of the newspaper or is just a low level servant happy to be a robot. I can assure Dr. Misir for all that he claims to know about the media, this is not the way newspapers operate. Even a tyrant like Rupert Murdock does not read the editorials of the Times and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) before they go to press. Nether would those editors agree to that offensive intrusion.
When Murdock bought the WSJ, one of the binding clauses is that he must not interfere with the editorial content of the paper. The same thing happened with the London Times.
Murdock eventually intervened in the Times and would probably do the same with WSJ, but as to the absurdity of overlooking editorials, I doubt Murdock would do that. But why do that when your editors should know what the paper’s general thrust is. Important to note for the benefit of Dr. Misir is that Kathleen Graham, then Washington Post publisher, said she never asked who Deep Throat was and she was never told
When commentators observe how far we are receding back in time when Guyana’s freedom was lost, spokespersons like Dr. Misir tell us that we are publishing unverified information, but surely after almost 25 years after Burnham’s death, a PPP spokesperson, who is also an academic, could openly write that newspaper publishers should read their editors’ pieces before they are published. No wonder we are in an ongoing crisis with the PPP leadership.
I cannot speak for the publisher of the Kaieteur News, I wouldn’t arrogate to myself that role but as someone who has been associated with the newspaper a long time, I can say that Dr. Misir hardly knows the nature of the leadership of the Kaieteur News if he thinks Mr. Glen Lall would have objected to that editorial about the role of the press that Dr. Misir is wailing about.
But why doesn’t Dr. Misir ask Mr. Lall if he agrees with the general thrust of the editorial of August 20 which laments the abominable role of the state media in hiding news that the Guyanese people ought to read.
There is a lot more Dr. Misir needs to know about journalism in general, the media in Guyana and the editorial motto of the Kaieteur News. But I guess the sad thing about Dr. Misir, the state media and the Guyana Government he works for is that he can find space in the Kaieteur News and the SN to criticise those very newspapers. His newspaper, the Chronicle, on the other hand would not allow an anti-government view to seep in even if it is a one-line sentence. So much for the free journalism that Dr. Misir lectures us about