– pervasive breaching of salient principles cited
The Media Monitoring Unit (MMU), which has been recently resuscitated and falls under the rubric of the Guyana Elections Commission, has presented its first report which illustrates the imbalances in the political reporting in Guyana.
The State-owned media came in for particularly harsh criticism as a result of their reportage.
According to the report issued yesterday by the MMU it was both the implicit and explicit intention of the framers of the modified Media Code of Conduct (MCC), that the guidelines within the document would suffice to raise the bar on journalism standards in Guyana, especially during the critical pre-, peri- and post-elections period.
State-owned entities such as the Guyana Chronicle came in for a pasting when the MMU reported that it observed with some amount of consternation, the pervasive breaching of the salient principles. The body noted that these media houses took part in the indulgences in certain antithetical media behaviours such as opinionated news-reporting.
“This unprofessional practice was observed being taken to new (ridiculous) levels, especially in the nightly television newscasts, and also by some sections of the print media. The clever ruse conjured up to introduce personal opinions into news, or as news itself, is through the overuse (or rather, abuse) of the clichés: Sources within…, Sources close to…., Political observers say that…., Experts in the field stated….
It is standard journalism practice globally, to use the aforementioned phrases as a means of protecting the identity of vital news sources, particularly in those instances where it involves the dissemination of sensitive information to the public. However, this practice is oftentimes used sparingly and only when absolutely necessary, by professional journalists around the world. However, within the local media environment, the practice has been corrupted as a means to an end.”
The Unit had steered clear of naming media houses involved in offending practices that violate sections of the Code dealing with accuracy, balance, fairness, journalistic integrity and professionalism since, “the whole objective of this initial Report is to highlight and bring to the attention of media houses, the weak and/or deficient areas of their operations that require urgent attention…Contextually, the citing of the Guyana Chronicle Newspaper was done in order to pre-empt the practice that they (the newspaper) started from being emulated and becoming contagious within the print media.”
In its assessment of the Guyana Chronicle, the MMU found that the opinions expressed throughout the newspaper’s editorials painted the following picture: the Government was provided with a large amount of positive coverage and a moderate amount of neutral publicity.
Amongst the Political Parties, the PPP/C was the only party that gained a small amount of positive coverage, while APNU and AFC were portrayed with varying amounts of negative publicity only, with APNU being depicted three times more negatively than AFC.
It found too that the newspaper’s columnists distilled copious amounts of positive and neutral coverage on the Government, while staying clear of penning any measurable negative comments. Amongst the Political Parties, the PPP/C gained the most positive coverage, followed by the AFC and APNU, in that order.
Conversely, APNU led the field with the most negative coverage, followed by AFC. The PPP/C did not attract any measurable negative commentary from the contributors to the columns.
It found too that from the General News section of the newspaper, the Government received superfluous amounts of positive and neutral coverage and a comparably minuscule amount of negative coverage.
The spread of positive to negative coverage given to the Government was in a ratio of over 1600:1.
The MMU reports that amongst the Political Parties, the PPP/C gained the highest amount of positive coverage, followed by APNU and AFC, in that order and on the negative side, the AFC consumed the largest amount of coverage, followed by APNU and TUF respectively.
“The PPP/C did not register any negative coverage…Comparatively, the PPP/C’s share of positive coverage was more than 8 times the amount given to APNU and AFC combined. Also, the negative coverage that the AFC attracted was exactly twice the amount given to APNU and TUF.”
In relation to the Guyana Times, the MMU found that this publication‘s editorials served the Government with a copious amount of positive coverage and a moderate amount of neutral publicity.
“Interestingly, none of the Political Parties attracted any measurable coverage over the past month.”
In the Letters Columns of the Guyana Times, according to the MMU, the Government was apportioned a large amount of positive coverage and an infinitesimal amount of negative publicity that was reflected in a positive to negative ratio of over 189:1.
The MMU reported that in the Guyana Times the AFC contracted the highest amount of negative coverage from writers to the Column, followed in order by APNU and PPP/C.
“At the individual level, the PPP/C gained almost nine times more positive than negative coverage; APNU’s negative to positive ratio of coverage was 3:1. The PPP/C positive coverage was almost 5 times the same coverage APNU received, and the AFC’s negative coverage was more than that of APNU and PPP/C combined…AFC was also the only Political Party that gained strictly negative coverage.”
It found too that the newspaper’s Columnists provided the Government with small amounts of positive and neutral publicity, while APNU and AFC were portrayed wholly in a negative light.
“In the General News section of the newspaper, the Government was depicted hugely more positive than negative, in addition to being the recipient of a considerable amount of neutral publicity…In fact, when the coverage that the Government received was segregated, the resulting ratio of positive to negative was almost 77:1”
The MMU in its analysis of the Stabroek News found that its editorials provided the public with opinions on a wide array of topical issues.
It was observed that the Government was disproportionally projected with precisely 56 times more negative than positive coverage. “And apart from the minuscule amounts of negative coverage observed and measured for the PPP/C and APNU, none of the other Political Parties (i.e. AFC, JFAP and TUF) received any measurable coverage.”
It found too that the newspaper’s Columnists depicted the Government with around 7 times more negative than positive publicity and amongst the Political Parties, APNU garnered the most positive coverage followed by AFC and PPP/C, in that order.
“On the negative side, the PPP/C was doused with the largest amount of negative publicity, followed by APNU and AFC.”
The MMU reports that in the General News section of the newspaper, the Government gained sizeable amounts of positive, negative and neutral publicity, while securing considerably more positive than negative coverage.
“Amongst the Political Parties, APNU gained the highest amount of positive publicity, followed in order by the AFC, PPP/C, JFAP and TUF…And in terms of negative coverage, TUF topped the list, followed in descending order by APNU, PPP/C, JFAP, and AFC with the least.”
As it relates to this publication it was found that the editorials of the Kaieteur News “adorned” the Government with almost three times more negative than positive publicity.
“Amongst the Political Parties, the PPP/C was given small amounts of positive and neutral coverage, while APNU collected a small amount of neutral.”
In terms of the KN’s letters column, the Government scored approximately five times more negative than positive coverage, whilst from the ranks of Political Parties, the following coverage was observed and measured: APNU gained the highest amount of positive coverage, followed by PPP/C and AFC in that order.
“On the negative side, the PPP/C led the way, followed by APNU and AFC…The PPP/C collected a negative to positive ratio of coverage that was 19:1; while APNU’s negative to positive ratio was substantially smaller at approximately 5:1. The AFC’s coverage revealed a positive to negative ratio of coverage that was around 2:1.”
As it relates to the Columnists the MMU stated that they distilled on the Government approximately more negative than positive coverage.
“Amongst the Political Parties, the AFC was the recipient of the most positive coverage, followed by PPP/C and APNU…The PPP/C collected the largest accumulation of negative publicity, and was followed by AFC and APNU, in that order.”
It found too that the coverage given to the PPP/C by the newspaper’s columnists resulted in a spread of information received by the public that was 16 times more negative than positive.
“In similar fashion, APNU was the recipient of a spread of coverage that was 9 times more negative than positive, while the AFC’s coverage showed a spread that was slightly more negative than positive.”
The report found too that the General News section of the newspaper inundated the Government with considerably more positive than negative coverage, complemented with a large input of neutral publicity.
“Amongst the Political Parties, the AFC secured the highest amount of positive coverage, followed by APNU and PPP/C, in that order…Contrastingly, the PPP/C attracted the most negative reportage, followed by AFC, APNU and TUF…The PPP/C also accumulated appreciably more negative than positive coverage from the news reports in the newspaper, while APNU’s positive to negative coverage was 4:1, and AFC more than 2:1. PPP/C and TUF were the only parties with net negative coverage.”
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