May 08, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – It seems that more and more that the truly independent and straight-talking sections of the media are forced to come to grips with the troubling environment they must exist in, particularly as it relates to the crippling realities under which they must operate. It is that no matter how kindly one looks at it, the Fourth Estate is compelled to function with one arm tied behind its back, one eye looking over its shoulder, the other watching out for the politicians and one foot shackled. That is because of politicians who do not hesitate to use the courts to bludgeon into submission and silence, those clear thinking and nationally minded sections of the media. They do so through the forceful and questionable use of the law to whip others into shapes that speak of abject surrender.
An examination of long past history and recent times indicates that politicians of all stripes, on most occasions, rush forward with sword held aloft in the intimidating, cornering and broad siding of the press sections that they deem non-cooperative and critical. In other words, sections of the press that are too frank and/or too critical in their coverage. Thus, there has been the filing of lawsuits by politicians from both the government of the day, or from the opposition of the hour. If it is not of the actual lawsuits announced, it is the menace of lawsuits taken to another level, in that they are there and that they will be used at the slightest blink of an eye. To cow into kowtowing, to squeeze and strangle into submitting and yielding by the sections of the media that are found too loud, too worrisome, too revealing and too piercing.
The lawsuit and the courts are resorted to, so as to get even and to settle scores. This is when there was neither malice intended, nor premeditation involved. It is only that there is fulfilling of the sacred obligations that comes with the territory of being an ethical media presence and a principled media practitioner. These elements are not for sale; they cannot be negotiated away, or bartered for the joy and satisfaction of those in the political realm. So, if it is the courts that must be, then it will have to be, to get to the bottom of what is now one uneven mass of misinterpretations, of greater and greater confusions, and of the reflexive suspicions that the knives are out and the objectives are no media truths, no media exposures, no media objections. Those are huge mouthfuls to contemplate, more challenging still on which to chew and bring great difficulty to swallow in quiet and humble satisfaction.
The world doesn’t work this way. This business of reporting facts and truths and circumstances, as they occur and as they are, cannot be done this way. If it is, or the politicians say that it should be so, then it cannot be delivered in the manner that they have in mind. Through what is favourable only, in what is positive only, via what is glowing and supporting only. So, since this must be done and delivered in one way only and not merely because we say so, then there has to be readying to face the fires that come. This is however they come, whatever they bring, wherever they lead. It is simply a matter of standards, of the honour and dignity and the occupational decency as well, with which we must perform the duties, demanding or routine, stormy or serene and disputed or friendly. The bottom-line is this: wherever this takes us, there we will have to go.
As we consider all of this, something is becoming clearer. It is that our libel laws are more than antiquated; it is that they are clumsy and provide a sufficiency of openings and leeway through which an oil tanker can be driven. This is because they possess enough of the grey and the ghostly that any hat can be hung upon them and almost with impunity. It is definite that we are in urgent need of some baseline, of some essential clarity, on what is what, where is where and where we can go.
Clearly, our politicians in Guyana have declared war on the sections of the media that dare to confront and call them out for either having no clothes, or for failing to stand up and honour the requirements of their offices in the noblest of manners. It is going to be a hard and bitter one; one that is going to lead down blind alleys in this country and then further afield in the seas beyond. At the end of the day, we all have to stand for something. To be about something and that is what will be the first and final tests of us all. We go forth with strength and the confidence that comes from such thinking, convictions.
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