I refer to my recent letter in Kaieteur News on the presentation of unverified information; this letter seems to have startled Freddie Kissoon and the Editorial Gang at Kaieteur News, pushing them to grasp for a defensive reaction.
Owner Mr. Glen Lall needs to consistently peruse the pre-published editorials before they reach the dissemination point; I would hope Glen does not lend legitimacy to the Editorial of August 20, 2009, for this kind of Editorial does immense damage to the credibility of the Kaieteur News. And I know Glen really struggled to elevate his newspaper today to the zenith of the newspaper business in the Caribbean and North America Diaspora.
The Editorial stated thus in part: “…Perhaps, the role of the state newspapers is to defend the government in the same way that the private media see their role as reporting on those things that the government would wish to keep quiet. Dr Misir should recognise this. He should know that no media house has a duty to reflect the positive views of the government only…The private media houses, regardless of the political affiliation of the owner or the reporter, always carry the news as they see it…”
I do not recognise or support this line of thinking as espoused by the Kaieteur News Editorial. The responsibility of the media is not merely to make public what any ‘government would wish to keep quiet’; then the thought of media houses carrying the news as they see it is nauseating; but if this is their modus operandi, then what has happened to objectivity and fundamental fairness, inclusive of balance in their application of ‘Guyanese’ journalism. And so, this is the compelling reason why I wrote the letter that columnists are presenting unverified information.
The Hutton Inquiry of 2004 had this to say on the communication of information: “…the right to communicate …information is subject to the qualification…that false accusations of fact impugning the integrity of others, including politicians, should not be made by the media. Where a reporter is intending to broadcast or publish information impugning the integrity of others the management of his broadcasting company or newspaper should ensure that a system is in place whereby his editor or editors give careful consideration to the wording of the report and to whether it is right in all the circumstances to broadcast or publish it…”
And today, media editors in Guyana have to be brought to book in allowing a few columnists’ unsubstantiated anecdotes, more akin to gibberish, impugning the integrity of public figures and distorting political history. Opinions and commentaries must be held to the same standards of accuracy with regard to facts, as news reports.
The Guyana Press Association (GPA), if it’s worth anything, must address the cavalier and unseemly work of some ‘columnists’ ‘editors’, and ‘reporters’.
In Guyana, the Fourth Estate, the media, needs to engage in a journalism of verification and fact finding rather than in a journalism of allegations. The Guyana journalists have been increasingly neglectful of their duty to seek out the truth, to understand and report issues from all possible angles.
Recent commentaries on both electronic and print media are deeply troubling; the commentaries continue to aggressively distort the political history of this country. It is one thing to have an opinion about something; but another to present this opinion as a fact. Opinions are not necessarily facts.
Freddie Kissoon can moan and groan as much as he wishes; his type of journalism is disconcerting and fundamentally out of whack. I will address his response to my letter in another context.
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