Sep 17, 2009 News
The Guyana Press Association (GPA) in a statement to its membership has condemned the recent statements by the Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo at the Private Sector Commission (PSC) dinner on August 28 last.
The GPA stated that it “is appalled at Jagdeo’s most recent statements against a section of the private media”.
“We would encourage the President to seek wider avenues to express his concerns rather than to keep going down the same narrow one way street over and over again. It is understandable and expected that politicians, more so a sitting government will never see eye to eye with the media. However, officials ought to recognize and respect the role of the media.”
“Mr. Jagdeo in sort of a subtle threat at the dinner of the Private Sector Commission, sought to lecture the businessmen on the role he sees for the media.
Jagdeo, the GPA noted, “sought to encourage those businesses which advertise with the Kaieteur News to pull their ads because he is not happy with the probing reports that have been appearing in the Kaieteur News.”
Jagdeo, the statement continued, also expressed his concerns about stories of crime being on the front page of the newspapers, even accusing this newspaper of making up stories.
The GPA was pellucid in emphasizing that the two statements ought to be rejected totally and are both a clear attack on the freedom of the press.
“The President must understand that he ought not to use the bully pulpit to carry on with his tirade about the media…This latest outburst is a clear attempt by the highest office in the land to use its influence to get to private businesses that choose to advertise with the newspapers.”
The GPA noted that, “This is dangerous and does nothing to repair the already badly damaged relationship the President shares with the media.”
It was recalled that when the President had differences of opinion with the Stabroek News, he withdrew the government ads, ironically turning to the Kaieteur News, embracing the newspaper and its coverage and reach.
“Two years later, the President now has differences of opinion with the Kaieteur News and he turns to the business community to pull its ads. Mr. Jagdeo having served as President for the past decade must now realize that his way of doing business with the media is no business at all and he must seek better ways to vent his concerns.”
Meanwhile, GPA also pointed out concerns from some sections of the media about other media entities impersonating reporters/information officers.
“The GPA wishes to remind all media houses that they have a responsibility to be fair and balanced in their reporting and in the gathering of information for those reports. They must hold themselves up to a much higher standard…Media operatives too ought to be reminded that their pens should not be used as swords to wage private and personal battles.”
The GPA said that it will continue to monitor all developments with regard to the local press and has already taken steps to inform its Caribbean and International partners about all these latest developments.
“The GPA remains open to talks with the Guyana government about several issues of concern to both the administration and the local press corps…It is time to move forward…That time is now.”
President Jagdeo has accused Kaieteur News of fabricating news and damaging the image of the country. He opined that such reporting serves to dissuade tourists as well as persons returning home to Guyana.
Jagdeo was at the time speaking at the PSC dinner at the Pegasus Hotel.
He accused the Private Sector operatives of aiding and abetting what he called the sensationalising of the news, since they advertise with this newspaper.
According to the President, crime is blown out of proportion by Kaieteur News.
“Let’s look at the image of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica in the world. Jamaica has millions of tourists and Jamaica’s crime rate is five times higher than us on a per capita basis.”
The President said that whilst on a recent overseas trip to Jamaica, in one weekend there were 40 murders but it was tucked away inside the daily newspapers.
“Here if you look at the Kaieteur News and some of the others, they create a story, when they don’t have a story they bring back the last week story on the front page.”
He added that this newspaper fabricated an article which referred to a Coast Guard rank claiming that he was at Lindo Creek.
According to the President, “We knew where Fine Man (Rondell Rawlins) had been already, we knew when he was in that area, we knew he had already come back across the river, and Kaieteur News running a serial…the police are one day behind him at Christmas Falls…the man was already back in the other area, (but) we couldn’t say.”
In a continued tirade against this newspaper, President Jagdeo said that the reporting on a disclosure by a GDF Coast Guard rank in custody, regarding his presence in the Lindo Creek area, was all lies and the administration knew that, but could not dispute it at the time.
Editor-in-Chief, Adam Harris in response to the president’s comment had said that it was unfortunate that President Jagdeo, at a major forum, had chosen to single out Kaieteur News for criticism.
“Kaieteur News has been responsible for news that attracted the attention of the government and the police. The police have on many occasions sought the services of Kaieteur News. President Jagdeo should acknowledge this,” the Editor-in-Chief said.
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