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Jun 06, 2010 News
Despite Kaieteur News being labeled the ‘new opposition’ by members of the Executive, the Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) highlighted the newspaper’s “… provision of a level playing field for the dissemination of the more important and contending political views to the reading public.”
This comes from the first quarter report released by the MMU of the Guyana Elections Commission. The report examines the coverage given by most of the media houses in the country to the Government and the political parties, in terms of how much positive or negative coverage each receives.
The report which looked at the four principle dailies – Stabroek News, Guyana Chronicle, Guyana Times and Kaieteur News, focuses on three sections in its evaluations: Editorial, letters and general news.
In terms of Editorials, the report noted that those coming out of KN, “… were a model of consistency in balanced and impartial opinion writing”, especially since they “did not spew forth much political commentary.” The Guyana Times was found to have, “depicted the government with almost equal amounts of moderate positive and negative coverage” and their Editorials were actually found to have been largely ‘apolitical’ in character according to the report.
In contrast, the MMUs appraisal of the Editorials written by Stabroek News found that “the Government was given almost 5 times more negative than positive publicity”.
While in the Guyana Chronicle’s Editorials, it was seen that “… the Government received a huge amount of positive coverage in comparison to the relatively inconsequential amount of negative publicity it was given by the newspaper’s (editorial) writers.” The ratio was 81.1 percent positive to 0.6 percent negative.
According to the report, the Letters column in the Guyana Chronicle gave the Government 23 times more positive coverage than negative, while the PNCR-1G and AFC were the only parties to attract “strictly negative” comments. In fact, the report went on to say that the coverage awarded to these parties was “uncannily similar, in that the Government and the PPP/C were portrayed hugely positive” in both the letters column and editorials, “while PNCR-1G and AFC were portrayed exclusively in a negative light.
The report went on to say that, “The similarities in coverage created the impression that it was more deliberate than coincidental, and that the information published within the two sections of the newspaper were carefully selected and edited to attain two objectives: bolster the Government’s image; and bring the Parliamentary Opposition Political Parties – namely the PNCR-1G and AFC – into public ridicule.”
Conversely, in the Stabroek News, it was found that the Government was given considerably more negative than positive publicity.
In terms of coverage awarded to political parties, the AFC’s positive coverage “was almost double the combined positive coverage given to the PPP/C, PNCR-1G, and GAP/ROAR” the report stated.
It went on to say that, “There was a conspicuous similarity between the coverage that the Government, the PPP/C, and PNCR-1G acquired in the Editorials and Letters Column – that is, net negative publicity – which led to the logical inference that the three entities were ungraciously profiled in the two sections of the newspaper.”
The MMU did however manage to find a redeeming quality for the Letters column of the Stabroek News; they noted that the paper provided a “fairly reasonable amount of ‘good publicity’” for the smaller opposition parties.
The letter columns of the Guyana Times and Kaieteur News were better received by the Unit. Letters in the Guyana Times were found to favor the Government with a positive to negative ratio of four to one.
The parties came in for equal coverage in both lights with the only exception being a spate of negative publicity aimed at the AFC – however the report did point out that this was as a result of the party’s actions and not editorial selection. The letter column of Kaieteur News displayed a negative bias to the Government but the ratio was lower at two to one.
With respect to the coverage of the political parties, the report stated that “the similarity in coverage (net negative) that the bigger political players – Government, PPP/C, PNCR-1G – received, suggested an acceptable level of editorial impartiality, balance and equity in the Column’s offerings to its readers, for this Quarter.”
The last portion of the newspaper that came under appraisal was the general news.
The report declared that all of the dailies gave the Government more positive than negative coverage with the Chronicle giving the Government 92 percent positive coverage. The Guyana Times also gave the Government 22 times more negative than positive coverage.
Meanwhile, the other two dailies, Kaieteur News and Stabroek News were more subdued in their numbers, chalking up positive-negative coverage ratios of four to one and three to one respectively.
Here three of the dailies with the exception of the Guyana Chronicle came in for positive reviews with regards to their hard news reporting, which was found to be balanced, equitable and fair across the three independent papers.
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