Kaieteur News – I have been given permission by the author of a conversation with the editor-in-chief of the Stabroek News, Mr. Anand Persaud, to publish its content with the request that his name be omitted for now. The author informed me that Mr. Persaud has given him permission to quote him. I will refer to the person as American Scholar (AS)
I rang Mr. Persaud for his comments on his exchange with AS. Mr. Persaud acknowledged what he conveyed to AS but declined to speak on the positions he took with regards to the publications of the letters sent by AS to Stabroek News over the past few months; Mr. Persaud has refused to print all of the letters. Financial expert, Mr. Joel Bhagwandin told me I can quote him that he does not get his letters to Stabroek News published.
This gentleman is a senior American-Guyanese scholar who works at one of the most prestigious universities in the world where he holds the status of professor. His publications of refereed books and refereed academic article are impressive. Below is what AS wrote to me.
“I called and spoke to Anand Persaud at SN and he acknowledged receiving my letters. Said they weren’t published because they are critical of civil society groups, including Article 13. I said why don’t you publish it and let the public decide. He had no answer to that.
I reminded him that SN had published numerous articles – actually a couple hundred at least. I asked what has changed, and shockingly he simply said oil and gas. He characterized my employer (GoG) as my minder. I objected.
I told him I know persons like Christopher Ram are honorable and with high credibility. I then pointed out that my article was on Article 13, and no individual was named and that was intentional. I basically said to him that an organization like A 13 can and does have a personality.
I told him I drew on the work of Lacan and presented arguments based on his very influential work. He still characterized my article as having adhomeniem. I strongly disagreed. I asked him if I could consider the conversation a matter of record and he said yes.
I asked him if it is not important to get the views of someone at GoG (Ali Administration). He said no, not if they criticize civil society groups. I told him that many of Article 13 statements are clearly and conspicuously inaccurate and untruthful. He brushed that off.
The conversation lasted about 10 minutes and it took place at around 11:15 this morning – October 5, a day of extraordinary coincidence. I would appreciate it if you would write something on this. Many more things were said but I can only relate in person.
He said they don’t take calls on letters. I acknowledged that and thanked him for speaking with me. I would characterize the tone as defensive and combative at the same time but still salute to picking up the phone. It did not matter to him that I am a highly qualified individual. I told him I did 37 years of university teaching. I will send you a write-up on me.”
When I spoke to the editor-in-chief he was arrogant in his tone. He did not see that what AS is complaining about does not happen in the real world of journalism. I have been associated with the Kaieteur News since its formation 28 years ago and I know Mr. Glenn Lall and its past editors including the present one, Ms. Sharmain Grainger will never tell a letter-writer – “we will not carry your letter because you criticise this or that organisation.”
The sacred principle of journalism is that people have a right to have their views published save for libelous content, scurrilous style and dangerous advocacy. A person who does not believe Obama was a competent president; Sachin Tendulker was a brilliant cricketer; Mandela was an effective president; have a right to have their views published. Even the dull and ignorant must be allowed to have their say.
I know Mr. Ian McDonald would never agree with what Mr. Persaud pronounced in that conversation. I think, though I may be wrong, he is the chairman of the board of the Stabroek News.
Ms. Isabelle DeCaries, the majority shareholder in the Stabroek News, three times published letters castigating me. The KN did not refuse her publications critical of its columnist. I am calling on Ms. DeCaires who administers Moray House to allow AS to have his analyses printed. Mr. Persaud’s edict is indefensible. Let’s hear what the Guyanese society has to say. This is a dangerous turn in Guyana. We must speak out.
(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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