Higher standards needed for accepting and recruiting media operatives
We’d be having better quality of newscasts in Guyana had the standards for accepting and recruiting media operatives in Guyana been higher.
Just the other day, Berbice played host to a media training workshop and saw the attendance of dozens of media practitioners from all across Guyana and especially here in Berbice.
This event, I am sure, cost the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) thousands of dollars during its three-day duration for accommodation, getting the right personnel to deliver the right on-hand training to the practitioners, among other fiscal costs. One would have expected a better quality of delivery of newscasts and reporting not to mention news editing, graphics and even presentation (posture, enunciation, congeniality of presenter) among other valuable criteria for packaging wholesome newscast.
I was shocked and flabbergasted last Friday evening (18-09-09) just after seven o’ clock when a Berbice newscaster started laughing in the midst of presenting the news, not once but twice. After what had appeared to be a fly or some other insect landing upon her forehead, the newscaster began laughing, stopped, started to read a few words, and then covered her face with her hand and began laughing again — on live TV, viewable from distances that reach as far as Mahaica and Suriname — or so they say.
The cast was immediately cut off for a few seconds then the young lady apologised and continued. Can you imagine this barefacedness and insult to Berbicians and the viewing public? At this point I would like to point out that I am writing here on behalf of no organisation or group but myself, a person who has been playing an active part in journalism over the past years in Guyana and am therefore saddened at this new low of newscast and journalism in our country.
Shabby reporting, mispronunciations (like the news presenter who said ‘Queen Elizabeth the Eleventh [II]’ and not ‘Second’ a few years ago), mixed-up tapes causing mixed-up stories, poor video quality and sound of video, sensationalised reporting, among other journalistic sins, which are committed day in and day out by Guyana media operatives are as a result of poor academic qualifications by journalists.
I was in Georgetown and saw an advertisement on the TV for reporters. Each applicant was required to have at least a Diploma in Communications and nothing less! That applicant, now, entering journalism and who would’ve had the base of journalism academically covered might have been expected to read for his or her Degree; anything else would be unacceptable!
Media houses must also play vital roles in ensuring that their journalists always keep upgrading their academic skills. Governments can also invest in these persons through training which would not only benefit the person themselves or their media entity, but also the people of the country and journalism as a whole.
Journalists today are covering the news only where it is ‘comfortable’ for them to do so. Many of them have developed a lazy attitude with regards to covering and reporting what matters the most.
Many Editors need to share the blame here, as the Editor of the situation described above in Berbice recently. News editors know that it is their duty as the more senior ones in journalism to give proper direction to their methods of bringing information out to the public. But sadly anyone can become a news editor these days. Sadly also we have lost so many veteran and well-qualified journalists through the years. The current cabal of journalists (especially on TV) these days leave much to be desired, if one were to put it lightly. While a few (which I can count with my fingers) show much hope, others give journalism a bad name. Many of the journalists I grew up to know and respect have either migrated or have pursued other jobs. They have sought better remuneration packages. Who could blame them?
Mr. Anand Persaud of the SN spoke at length about voice poverty at a United Nations- sponsored workshop in July in Georgetown. That workshop was not attended by many persons due to the Ministry of Health’s fire that same day in the city. But surely attendance was not the fault, since the Berbice workshop was heavily attended and yet there seems to be no improvement as in the case of the ‘laughing-on-live-TV’ newscaster.
That is why today many stories are ‘hidden’ from the eyes of many Guyanese. What Guyanese will ultimately watch every evening would be the same set of stories from various (political) angles by the various media houses in Guyana, and this goes also for most of the newspapers in our midst today — most. Nobody is trying to go that extra mile; no reporter wants to go into the sidelines, to ground zero; where no other has traveled; where they know their reporting skills are hungered for, where they know that a man, woman, boy or girl is waiting to be heard; waiting for someone to hear their plight. That a situation which has been like a festering cancer upon the people of a particular area, miles away from towns and populated villages, is waiting for the eyes and ears of a nation (our reporters and editors). Those are people whose only sins are the locations which they have chosen to live. But maybe they have nowhere else to settle.
News and views and issues are waiting to be brought to light from the far- flung communities across Berbice and Guyana.
Would our journalists dare to care? Are they bold enough to answer that call? Can they ever proudly, courageously and nobly wear that name or say ‘I am a journalist’? Do they truly love what they do?
Leon Jameson Suseran