Today in Guyana, nuff television and radio stations abound and nuff interview programmes come with them. People want to be on radio and television hosting interviewees. But you just don’t invite someone to come on your show for the sake of publicity.
The interviewer must have some experience in journalism and in the following precious disciplines of Guyana – sociology, history, political economy, contemporary affairs, and social structure. If you lack adequate knowledge in these departments you cannot and will not be a successful host.
I have been a guest of these interviewers since Atlantis disappeared, and I believe the contents could have been better if these requirements were met by the interviewers. One of my best moments in this kind of journey was on the Naim Chan Show on channel 6, early last Wednesday morning.
It was clear to me that the host did his research on Guyana’s contemporary politics and my perspectives on politics – specific, particularistic and general. I would consider it one of the best interviews I have ever done. I think the questions were shaped to allow a flow that was multi-dimensional and all-encompassing.
Chan asked me about the play of politics today. I used the Chronicle as a pyrotechnic example of how the moment of 2015 became a failure. In 2012, the AFC and APNU as opposition parties, on a matter of principle, cut the line item in the budget relating to funding for the state media.
The argument then was that the state media (using media in the singular sense and not plural) is a propaganda tool for the ruling party, and did not operate as a state institution whose purpose was to provide information to the nation on what government does. In the reign of the PPP, the state media, including NCN and the Chronicle, were reduced to party rags.
AFC fanned out throughout Guyana in 2012 to explain to people why the budget cuts were necessary. I have vivid memories of those meetings. I shared a platform with Christopher Ram in Region 5, and he lost his voice on the podium and I was the next speaker. Gerhard Ramsaroop was charismatic. The rural supporters of the PPP took to him.
2012 passed into history. The people who cut the budget for the state media are in power since 2015. They have authority over the state media. The canvas today is identical to when Chris Ram, Gerhard Ramsaroop and I paraded across Region 4 – mostly East Coast locations – to justify the withholding of parliamentary approval for funding for the state media.
In countless ways, the party propaganda during the reign of the PPP that adorned the front pages of the Chronicle has been exceeded by the APNU+AFC regime. It was virtually impossible for any Guyanese, wherever they were, to think that people who fought against the long knives and never-ending nights of the PPP’s elected dictatorship would be rejected from writing for the Chronicle.
The names Lincoln Lewis and David Hinds were not banal, passing names in the annals of democratic struggle. Yet, a government that won a general election by a mere point three percent stopped these two men from expressing their views in a paper owned not by a party but the state.
Since the election season began, I have noticed three editorials endorsing the ruling coalition. This is unprofessional journalism. The Chronicle is not private property. State institutions cannot endorse political parties. I have been monitoring the Chronicle since the campaign season started.
Every rally (not political meeting, but the scheduled 16 rallies of APNU+AFC) has been carried front page, with the lead photo being that of the rally. There has not been a front page story and photo of any of the PPP rallies.
I remind readers that the ruling formation beat its competitor in 2015 by a mere point three percent. Surely, compelling moral decency dictates that the Chronicle should give other parties, especially the PPP which is an equal adversary of the PNC in terms of strength and popularity, front page coverage too.
It is not only the rallies, but even the ordinary campaign meetings of APNU+AFC are assigned front-page showing, but never any other political party. It is as if the Chronicle, as it was prior to 2015, is owned by the ruling party and not the state of Guyana.
I told my host Naim Chan the shape of the Chronicle after 2015 is convincing evidence that the dream of 2015 is gone. I told Naim that the physiology of the Chronicle today shows where our current leaders – in the PPP and APNU+AFC – do not deserve to be returned to power.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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