Messrs Sherwood Lowe and Earl Hamilton, supporters of the coalition government, in another newspaper, are advocating for equal access to the political parties in the private media. That is ironic because they make no similar demands on the state media. My analysis of space access in the private media is that coverage has been largely balanced. All political forces have fair space coverage in the private media.
Both writers call on another paper to discontinue the columns of Messrs Ralph Ramkarran and Henry Jeffrey because of their affiliation with the opposition ANUG party that is challenging the coalition in March’s elections. Ramkarran is Presidential candidate while Jeffrey reportedly holds an executive post. Neither one uses their columns to advocate for or champion their party. Lowe and Hamilton, champions of the coalition government, feel that the columnists should resign, and if not, the paper should suspend their columns until after the elections. Or if not, then the other Presidential candidates and or their parties should be given equal space at SN.
It is noted that the political parties or candidates themselves have not complained about or sought equal space in the paper or asked for the removal of Ramkarran and or Jeffrey. These parties or candidates must have recognized the unreasonableness of the request.
Ramkarran and Jeffrey are respected long standing columnists; readers look forward for their columns. In addition to the two, and David Hinds, Lincoln Lewis, Dem Boys Seh, Peeping Tom, and Ravi Dev are perhaps the most read columnists. Ramkarran and Jeffrey never took a “political” position and never attacked any party though they analysed government and official opposition party’s positions and or their policies. Ramkarran and or Jeffrey did not use their columns for political purposes (campaigning or for advertorial remarks) to sell their party and condemn others. Their columns are largely party neutral, and they have maintained their professionalism and decorum as objective and balanced columnists. Contrast them with other some columnists in the private media and government officials and their abuse of the media.
Lowe and Hamilton should take their request or advice to its logical conclusions: 1. All parties and their Presidential candidates be given equal access to the state media. 2. Those affiliated with the government and seeking election or re-election should resign their positions to give a level playing field to all parties and Presidential candidates. Failing that, then all other parties and or candidates should be given equitable time to govern the country during the remaining election period.
Don’t Lowe and Hamilton find it is fair for all parties and candidates be given equal access to the state media? Have they lost their voice on fairness? Shouldn’t the opposition parties and candidates also appoint officers or columnists for the state media as the coalition has done? Is it not fair and just for the opposition parties and candidates to also control the state media over a period of time during the election campaign period?
It is hypocritical to call on any private media to be balanced, neutral, and politically unaligned but stand silent when the state media is not. All media houses must operate professionally and give relatively fair coverage to all political forces and their candidates.
Vishnu Bisram (PhD)
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