Kaieteur News – Never for a moment, I believe at the Stabroek News, David DeCaires and Anna Benjamin would have done to Clement Rohee what the current editor, Anand Persaud, has. I functioned with the media for 32 years and still do. No one in this God-forsaken country can tell me how the media should operate as if they know it all.
I have been a columnist for 32 years serving for long periods, the Catholic Standard, the Stabroek News and the Kaieteur News. I have served under experienced editors – Father Andrew Morrison, Adam Harris, David DeCaires, Anthony Calder. I held a six-month consultant as the media advisor to Minister of Information, Moses Nagamootoo, in the late 1990s. Please do not tell me I don’t know when a wrong is committed by a media house.
There was a grievous fiction perpetrated by the Guyana Press Association (GPA) that was simply repugnant not just distasteful. In my 32 years of media activities what the GPA did in relation to the March 2020 election has few comparative moments of egregiousness. The GPA issued a statement informing the world that political parties attacked journalists during the election crisis.
That is not true. That cannot be proven by video footage. Three Kaieteur News journalists – Kemol King, Shikema Dey and Mikaila Prince – described on a Kaieteur Radio programme in which I participated, how they were attacked by supporters of APNU.
I specifically probed them on whether other party supporters confronted them. They said no. They are literally hundreds of video clippings from smart phones available showing how several journalists were attacked on Friday evening of March 13, 2020 at the GECOM head office. The GPA got away with one of the lowest moments of dirty journalism because Guyana is a dead zone. This explains why the GPA president is still on the job.
The media is highly regarded in any country and that has been a reality long, long ago. They are seen as the gatekeepers of society. They are perceived to be institutions that people rely on for knowledge that makes them know what is taking place in their country.
When the media behave with pomposity, arrogance and disregard for citizens’ right to be heard, the door of insensitive state power opens up more. One recalls a famous incident on the balcony of the High Court where Timothy Jonas of ANUG refused to give a comment to Gordon Moseley.
He was right. Moseley ought to be honest with himself and acknowledge he is more of a politician than a journalist. He should stop masquerading as a journalist. I don’t give a damn how he reacts to what was written above. I don’t care what nasty things his flock will say about me. I’m immune to such idiocies.
The lesson of the Jonas-Moseley incident is that the media will not be respected if they don’t respect the work they are doing. One has to be an undemocratic human to accept what the Stabroek News did to Clement Rohee’s letter. I have known Clement Rohee since we were both 16 years of age. I have never been fond of him because I think he is incapable of learning the lessons of history. Mr. Rohee did not help the image of the PPP for the 23 years he had been a minister.
Whether you like Rohee or not he is entitled to have his position carried by the media short of libel and scandal and downright lies. Rohee wrote a very plausible polemic (April 23) on contemporary Guyanese politics in the context of Eusi Kwayana’s interpretation on what he, Kwayana, understands as fairness in life.
I repeat, Rohee’s analysis was not banal or rambling but was put over in acceptable arguments. The missive in the Kaieteur News was 900 words. The Stabroek News’ version was chopped by more than half. I am contending this was barefaced denial of the right of a citizen to express him/herself on issues of national importance.
When media houses behave like this, how could they expect the corridors of power to respect their views on how governance is carried out? The Stabroek News owes its readership and the Guyanese people an explanation on what it did to a well written letter on recent Guyanese political history that the young generation can learn from. Maybe the Stabroek News detests Rohee but it cannot use that attitude to shape its journalism. Guess what? The Stabroek News will feel no obligation to explain but feels the government has an obligation to explain the positions it takes. This is a seriously dystopian country.
(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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