The private media did not boycott the meeting with presidential candidate of the People’s Progressive Party Civic, Mr. Donald Ramotar. The absence of the private media from that meeting was a protest against the numerous attacks that have been waged on the PPPC’s political platform by its outgoing President. Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo.
The non-attendance at the meetings was occasioned by the suspicion that the main offender would have been present and therefore would have turned the entire session into a hypocritical affair. Sections of the private media which have been assailed in recent times did not feel comfortable being present at such a forum with the very person that had called them vultures and carrion crows.
Mr. Ramotar himself has not been abusive to the media. He has in fact been very reconciliatory both on and off the platforms and therefore it has been suggested that the private media was unfair to Mr. Ramotar by staying away from his meeting with the media.
Those that stayed away have nothing personal against Mr. Ramotar. Most practicing journalists are familiar with Mr. Ramotar. They have interacted with him over the years and there are certain things which stand out about his personality. He has always been approachable and is not someone who is arrogant or haughty. No matter who it is, Mr. Ramotar has always been open to provide a comment to clarify something that is asked of him. He has always been the perfect gentleman.
No one in the media can claim a grouse against Mr. Ramotar at the personal level. He is a likeable person who has always enjoyed good relations with the media.
The problem has been his failure to take control of his party’s campaign and put an end to the abuse that is being waged against the media, an abuse which is coming principally from one source.
The PPPC has decided that it wants Mr. Ramotar to be its presidential candidate. He is therefore at the centre of his party’s campaign. He is the one who is going to suffer if the wrong things are said on campaign trail. His candidacy is at stake. He therefore has to get a grip on his campaign and take responsibility for what is said on the political platform. He has so far failed to distance himself from the comments made against the media. The meeting may have been part of the strategy to mend fences.
When the media stayed away from that media meeting, they were expressing displeasure with the attacks that have been taking place on the political platforms. Even though Mr. Ramotar is not the one attacking the media, it is his political campaign and he has to take control of it.
The private media does not wish to have poor relations with any political candidate. It is not for the private media to be staying away from things to which it is invited. But the private media cannot continue to be subject to attacks, such as what it has been on the campaign trail and not take a stand.
The private media has since not refused to carry reports on the meetings and rallies of the ruling party. And it would be unfair for the media to adopt this course. This would be in contravention of the media’s duty to provide information to the public on matters of public interest.
The real issue is with the scurrilous attacks made against sections of the private media by one particular individual on the PPP platform. While the PPP has never enjoyed the best of relationships with the private media in Guyana, and while for years it has been hounded by sections of the private media in Guyana which were pursuing an unashamed campaign to undermine the government, the present attacks on sections of the private media are without merit.
The media is not on a destabilization campaign against the ruling party. The media is the one under attack and for the reason that it continues to expose the misdeeds of the present regime and its relationship with certain individuals that are profiting from the largesse of the state.
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