“Of course I have a problem with Kaieteur News”
By Abena Rockcliffe
“Of course I have a problem with Kaieteur News” said General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party after he called for a “media regulatory body”, during the PPP’s weekly press conference at Freedom House yesterday.
Rohee said that the ongoing frequency of media infractions in Guyana necessitates the establishment of a regulatory body for the media. He claimed that sections of the media have strayed from the fundamentals of journalistic norms and practices, and are providing fodder for the political opposition.
He said these growing infractions bordering on libel, slander, distortions and character assassination by sections of the media have in turn contributed to the lowering of the country’s cultural standards.
The General Secretary asserted that it is wrong for every other institution to be expected to function utilizing the ideals of professional conduct guided by specific norms and practices, “while the media escapes scrutiny due to the absence of a formal mechanism to judge their performance and to impose sanctions in cases where there are infractions. While the media plays an important role in society, this should never be mistaken to mean it can do as it wishes without inviting appropriate criticisms and sanctions. The PPP is therefore encouraging the relevant authorities to carefully examine this matter and to swiftly move to establish a regulatory body for the media.”
In this vein, Rohee was asked to comment on the state-owned Guyana Chronicle’s printing pictures of school-aged children involved in sexual activities, but responded that he hadn’t seen the papers. Rohee also said that he knows nothing about the video that went viral over the weekend.
He was then asked how would he react, in general, to a media house publishing pictures of school children in compromising positions, considering the fact that Guyana is a signatory to Rights of the Child Convention and that the PPP government has promised to protect children at all levels.
But in response, Rohee maintained that he hadn’t seen Chronicle’s front page “but speaking about general principles double standards I have seen time and time again the Kaieteur News publish things like this…If Kaieteur wishes to deny what I am saying, they have a newspaper to do so. Don’t ask me when it happened, how it happened, or where it happened, we are not on trial here. All I can say is that I have seen this.
In answering a follow-up question, Rohee said, “I wouldn’t want to comment on a matter, these are set up questions that I would not answer without understanding the context in which I am answering, because I know how it will be spun in sections of the media, so I am not going to commit myself at this point and time to any generalised question.”
Yet Rohee admitted that his problem is with Kaieteur News. He said,”my problem is the consistent attacks” He said that he was upset that Kaieteur News did not cover anything about Prison Service Week, but published a story about the fact that protesting prisoners set alight a mattress in the Camp Street Prison.
Rohee also lamented that Kaieteur News did not cover anything about PPP’s anniversary.
“Where is the objectivity,” he asked.
Pointed to the fact that the newspaper did not cover People’s National Congress Reform anniversary, Rohee said he did not care about that. He chided Kaieteur News for asking the Guyanese nation to stand with it in the fight for press freedom and democracy and said “I will not stand by no Kaieteur News.”
A few weeks ago, Rohee called for the Media Monitoring Unit to deal with the “politically orchestrated daily smear campaigns.”
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