This columnist believes that per capita this country has the most hypocritical, immoral, dishonest and opportunistic population in the world. With just under 800,000 citizens, we must have produced more dishonest minds than places where the population numbers dozens of millions and even hundreds of millions.
Making the news last week are lamentations and cries that two social aberrations are hurting tourism – persistent, front page crime reporting in the media and mountains of garbage in the capital. After noting these two concerns, opportunism and immorality and sickening hypocrisy took over.
Do these tourism people have children? Aren’t they ashamed that their children will see the cobwebs that have imprisoned their minds?
Let’s start with the area I have some expertise in –the media. We read in the newspapers that crime descriptions on the front page are hurting tourism. Guyanese are told that the media must balance it with positive news reporting. That is not the way news reporting is done. News reporting cannot be based on a priori assumptions. No media house, from the small town newspaper to the world’s major media houses, has this approach to news dissemination.
An item becomes the cover story based on its importance to society. An editor makes the judgement whether one story over another has more news value. The slide into convenient journalism is inevitable once a newspaper operates with the need to have balance.
What is the balance supposed to achieve and is it compatible with the integrity of journalism? No newspaper is going to survive if it starts out with theoretical assumptions about news. There can be none. News is to be printed.
There comes a point where you cannot name the young victims of a heinous sex crime, but if six toddlers are raped and killed, journalistic obligations require its printing. The citizens have a right to know that a sexual predator is murdering toddlers. The minute an editor thinks that such news is too harsh to print, he or she is moving away from the observance of the essential tenets of journalism.
Tourism people in this country are hypocritical. Political will to fight crime is lacking in Guyana. Political will to confront the drug kings is lacking in Guyana. This vacuum fuels violence and hinders crime-solving.
The party that forms the Government of Guyana has been in charge since 1992, but where is our functioning forensic lab? Hundreds of murders are unsolved because our forensic capabilities are embarrassing. Three homosexuals were killed in similar fashion, but lack of forensic facilities allows killers to roam freely.
The British Government offered to fund to the tune of billions of dollars an anti-crime programme. The Government of Guyana rejected it because the British wanted some of its officers to work in Guyana. The presence of British officers is pronounced in the Jamaican and Trinidadian police forces.
Why is Guyana resisting? Because the foreign guys would not cultivate sacred cows. These aspects of the crime pathology, the tourism people are not prepared to talk about because they are opportunistic.
If they knock the Government for failure to improve safety, they are afraid of retaliation. Instead, they pick on the media. The tourism people are looking at their profits. If they criticize the Government, victimization may cause business failure. With such an attitude, how can these people lecture the media on how to shape journalism in this country?
Fear of crime is one of the preoccupations of the average citizen in this land. Crime is out of control in this territory. What is the role of the media in such a disastrous situation?
The answer is simple –report it. Who decides what is more important to print? A Government Minister or an editor? If left to the Minister, he/she prefers a lake of tranquility. On the other hands, it is the moral obligation of an editor to let a society know what is facing them by printing the news.
Why should an editor downgrade a robbery in a well known city story for a new school in Berbice? It is a judgement call.
Which item holds more importance for the people of the country? The school benefits one particular community. But if a city store can be robbed in broad daylight in front of thousands of passersby, then all store owners countrywide should know about it. The frequency of crime is not related to an editor’s choice to publish.
When crime occurs, it must be printed. In another column I will look at the tourism authority’s condemnation of the City Hall over garbage. Now that is dishonest.
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