Jun 10, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Through the courtesy of a relation from Down Under, an editorial that should be timely and eye-opening for Guyanese media professionals was shared. The title of the editorial dated June 8 from The Australian is, “Greatest enemy of truth is those who conspire to lie.” We took the liberty of extracting some of the editorial’s most hard-hitting positions, and present to local practitioners of journalism (and our reading audience) with some supporting thoughts. The work from The Australian speaks for itself, and the hope is that all will be motivated to look at their own work product, the guiding principles behind it, and appreciate where we are, and where true responsibilities begin.
“The best journalists often operate on the edge, are a little different.” They are consumed by the passion for a story, and where it can take, the truths told. A journalist’s energies can appear to be wasted, the fruitlessness of unending frustrations, but he or she must persevere. All the President’s Men come to mind, and Guyanese are familiar with Woodward and Bernstein, who brought down the mightiest leader in the world – Richard Nixon, U.S. President. They would neither be deterred, nor intimidated, nor sidetracked, nor bought out, nor surrender to partisan pressures. There is a standard for local reporters and news institutions.
In Guyana, we need to know the truths about oil (political management). Guyanese media must be bold enough to follow faithfully the scents that lead to the substances of corruptions. For the most part, our journalists are not doing as much as they can in either area. There is fear and bias, the usual cowardly retreats.
Woodward and Bernstein toiled endlessly, chased people and leads, wore out shoes, buttonholed everybody, and came up with the story of the century. It was all driven by industry, the truth that “sure wasn’t pretty.” The two young men took as their calling, their raison d’etre, what The Australian editorialised is the imperative of those in the Fourth Estate: “The essential work of journalism at its very best, and its most important, is to expose wrongdoing in public life.”
We agree with the Australian that commendable journalism scrutinises microscopically “those in power; politicians, public servants dispensing taxpayer funds, business leaders, union bosses, and those running big institutions, such as churches and universities.”
This is because “politicians lie without a glimmer of guilt.” They have done so in Guyana for the last 50 years, and do so more today. Politicians and businesses spend millions to conceal revealing information from reaching the public. As The Australian pointed out, “truth runs a distant last in the race” to present information. Though there is so much information around, or that should be in the public arena, citizens remain in the dark as to how their affairs are run, and at what cost to them. Guyanese society loses when the efforts and expenses of politicians are concentrated on: “Lying, disseminating and dissuading inquiring minds from extracting fact.” We at this paper challenge anyone with this, by saying that it has been so, and never as much as now.
Corrupt leaders and groups have their defenders, for there are the handiworks of Guyanese politicians that speak almost overpoweringly. Rather than do the right thing, what is present and well-equipped (finances, tools, rewards) is a mob of “social media scoundrels and half-witted hopefuls, desperate to destroy, through nefarious and any other means possible, anyone who disagrees with them.” They are here in Guyana, and we invite our fellow citizens to look for themselves.
We close with two parting extracts from this piercing editorial from The Australian, as a reminder to ourselves of our calling, and as an invitation and piece of unsolicited advice to our Guyanese media brethren. “To be good, you often need to be brash, and brave. But to be really good, you need to be beyond reproach.” The first loyalties must be to “truth…fairness and balance.” When those are worshipped, then the public is served and honoured. We in the Fourth Estate would have done our job, fulfilled our responsibilities, and can hold our heads high. This has no price tag attached, since it cannot be bought, must not be bartered. Never! Ever!
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