Aug 22, 2014 Editorial Comments Off on Threatening the journalist
There is danger in just about every occupation, but globally, one of the most dangerous seems to be journalism. Just a few days ago a reporter, James Foley, was beheaded in Syria. He was not the first to be killed in the line of duty and unfortunately, he will not be the last.
There was the female reporter in Ireland who was investigating a piece on drug trafficking when she was blown up by a bomb placed in her car. There was a similar killing in the United States, again by drug lords who did not like the fact that a reporter was investigating their operations.
In Guyana, no reporter has had the courage to investigate the drug trade and expose those behind it for the same reason. The harsh reality is that while the police would welcome the findings of the investigation, they are unable to protect the reporter or the media entity that would carry such reports.
Drugs apart, reporters are killed for other reasons. Foley, a freelance reporter from New Hampshire, was kidnapped in 2012, because he dared to attempt to report on the hardships faced by the people in Syria during the ongoing war.
There are other journalists in Syrian captivity and the Islamic group, ISIS, is threatening to kill them in retaliation for American action in that part of the world. To their credit, reporters still head to that corner of the world because they see as their role, the right to provide information on what is going on in those countries.
In other countries, journalists do come under attack for daring to express the views of sections of the population. They have been jailed in Russia, Zimbabwe and even in neighbouring Venezuela. Guyanese reporter, Clive Bacchus, faced expulsion from a Caribbean island where he had been operating for some two decades. He dared to do a piece that was critical of the government.
Some of these countries have even closed down media operations.
In Guyana, no reporter has been killed, but many have come under attack because they dared to report on issues that some find disturbing. Indeed, one reporter had his tie cut because he dared to film street protests. Some were saved from physical assault by wiser elements in the mob.
Officialdom has actually placed reporters in categories and has actually made attempts to see that harm comes to some of them. There are numerous reporters being denied access to events hosted by those criticized or commented on.
More recently, reporters attached to Kaieteur News were threatened by a former treason accused. He was unhappy because the newspaper was reporting on what it considered illegal operations by the Chinese logging company, Bai Shan Lin. He happened to be at a press conference hosted by the Guyana Forestry Commission.
His mere presence begs many questions. Who informed him of the press conference, since the invitations would only have been sent to media houses? Why would the moderator allow him to ask a question when surely that moderator knew that he was not a reporter?
The threats were reported to the police but there has been no action. One can only assume that the police themselves are cowed by officialdom and considered his actions as being sanctioned by the very officialdom.
At recent press conferences, Government Ministers have been scathing in their attacks against reporters who wrote pieces critical of aspects of the government operations. Of course, in countries where there is real freedom of the press, there would be comments critical of a media house. Barack Obama, President of the United States, has been critical of aspects of Fox News.
British Prime Ministers have similarly criticized media houses. In fact, just about every country has such instances, but none has ever said anything to cause harm to the reporters.
The good thing about Guyana is that the country does not have a culture of attacking reporters. We must do everything to preserve this culture.
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