Last Saturday saw ExxonMobil taking six reporters on an all-day trip to the drillship Noble Bob Douglas, the vessel that is currently operating offshore Guyana in waters explored by the oil company. Kaieteur News was ignored. It was not even made aware of the visit. The exploration is currently ongoing in the Liza One block.
News of the visit began to circulate ahead of the date. No one could say, at the time, who were selected, because there were no media invitations.
Usually, interventions by companies to solicit media coverage would be made to the respective media houses. In other cases such requests would be made through the Guyana Press Association, which would then request the media houses to nominate a reporter.
Since only six were required, the press association would have shortlisted those media houses to travel to the drillship. However, the GPA was not involved. It was ignored by ExxonMobil, the party issuing the invitation.
The oil company is not enamoured with Kaieteur News. The newspaper has been critical of the contract signed between the Guyana Government and the oil company. On occasions there have been reports that angered the oil company.
Investigations revealed that the invitation was circulated between people who have a well-established relationship with ExxonMobil. There was also talk that the people who visited the ship were from those who had previously been selected for a research course at the University of California, La Jolla.
These research courses had been offered for some three years. Some of those who went were Iva Wharton, Denis Chabrol and Bert Wilkinson. But on Saturday there were people who had never gone on the course. They included Marcelle Thomas of Stabroek News; Shunza Samuels of National Communications Network and Christopher Chapwanya of Oil Now.
The others who were taken to the drillship were Bert Wilkinson of Associated Press; Denis Chabrol of Demerara Waves, an online media outfit, and Royden James of Nightly News, a local television station.
Kaieteur News, the largest selling newspaper in the country was ignored. There was no invitation to the publication although one of its reporters had been selected for the University of California programme.
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