Oct 19, 2014 News
As the calls for Local Government Elections continue to pour in, the Canadian High
Commission along with the Guyana Press Association has embarked on a two day media workshop to train local journalists in elections coverage.
But the State media, which include the National Communications Network (NCN), The Government Information Agency (GINA) and the Guyana Chronicle, were a no show, even though they were invited days ago.
Facilitators for the workshop included Former Head of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, Wesley Gibbings, Founder of the Canadian Association of Journalists Nick Fillmore, Guyana Elections Commissioner Vincent Alexander and their legal officer Jaunita Barker. Also in attendance was Chairman of GECOM Dr. Steve Surujbally.
Gibbings spoke mainly about “Democracy and Media”. With regards to access, he said that information ‘feeds’ the democratic process.
According to Gibbings, the media is an institutional service provider for news, information, analysis and opinion. He said too that mass media can play a ‘mediating’ role in conflict.
The Role of Elections
The veteran journalist stated that the role of elections is one of the more important features of the democratic process. He said that free and transparent elections lead to citizens’ confidence and the results show “the will of the people”.
He opined that participants and professional observers regard mass media performance and content as decisive factors in the holding and the outcome of elections. He urged the media to monitor and validate the electoral process. Moreover the media he said, is increasingly being called upon to monitor and report on issues related to voters’ rights, the rights of candidates and political parties and the election process
According to Gibbings, a government installed under such conditions will more likely than not enjoy the support and confidence needed to promote social cohesion and peace. If not, social cohesion is more difficult and conflict ensues.
He said that official information should be freely available and there should be real choices on issues. There must also be the ability to express opinions openly and without hindrance and the ground rules should be known and understood by all.
He described the basic journalistic tenets as being accuracy, impartiality and the use of good judgment. Gibbings said that a reporter should follow the changes in social and political environment and urged reporters to focus on problematic electoral outcomes in some states.
Since the many calls for Local Government Elections which have not been held since 1994, President Donald Ramotar has publicly told the joint opposition, particularly APNU Leader David Granger, that the opposition could not get “cake and bake” as it relates to the holding of Local Government and General Elections.
All of the western embassies and several other agencies here in Guyana have been calling for Local Government Elections.
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