Since creation, communication has been one of the most important aspects of human life especially between states, in order to prevent or reduce wars and other conflicts. Communication fosters a common understanding between and among states and their subjects, and enhances cooperation. Immediately following the Cuban Missile Crisis (which could have accidentally led to a nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union), both superpowers agreed to establish a telephone “hot line” in order to prevent such a crisis.
Guyana, like most other countries, has entered the Information Age, in which the citizens have increasingly looked to the media to hold politicians accountable. The attitude of the current government does not always convey this impression, especially in relation to its lack of communication with the public on key issues such as the intended closure of the Wales Sugar Factory. The workers were not directly informed, which suggests that the government is unreceptive to public opinion about its stewardship.
Whether the government accepts it or not, the Information Age has brought about sweeping technological changes that led to the popularization of computers and smartphones and related devices and have shaped the environment in which it operates. It is an inescapable reality of the time. Success boils down simply to accomplishing objectives which the government has set for itself. Failure is the exact opposite.
Poor communication on Government’s part could very well be a factor hindering its efforts. It seems, by and large, that such thinking still informs this administration’s approach to dealing with the media as a major conduit for public communication.
What the government seemingly fails to realize is that conditions today are vastly different from what they were fifty years ago. During that time, it was able to exercise considerable control over the flow of information and how it was perceived by the public. That is not so today. The Information Age has opened up access to a plethora of new private media, both print and broadcast.
Although the government runs a television station, radio stations and a newspaper, it no longer has control over all what the people see, hear and use to form their perceptions. Along with the traditional media, the Internet has become a major source of public information. And social media has become very popular, but its uncensored information is sometimes inaccurate and questionable.
The Government has the option of either responding to the growing public demand for transparency and accountability, or remaining silent. If it chooses the latter route, by the time it comes around to opening up on issues of national importance, it may be too late. Irreparable damage may have been done already to its image and reputation.
The coalition came to power on an anti-corruption platform, and more definitively, to be transparent and accountable. It has not satisfactorily delivered on these key promises. It is ironic that the same accusations which the government made against the PPP when in opposition would have been practiced if the President had not insisted that GINA must cover all branches of government. This after an ill-advised comment to the contrary had been made by a government official.
Communication is an exceptionally powerful tool, but unfortunately it has been overlooked in far too many instances by the powers that be. Poor communication more often than not leads to negative outcomes; good communication invariably leads to positive outcomes. It is a critical element of the government. With effective and efficient communication, anything is possible. Without it, absolutely nothing progressive is possible. Will the present administration ever come around to recognising this fundamental truth?
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