Georgetown, Guyana – (November 7, 2019) The November 7, 2019 Stabroek News editorial – The President and ‘fairness’ in the press- deliberately misrepresents statements made recently by President David Granger, during a live radio interview with Kaieteur Radio on Friday, November 1, 2019.
President Granger has always been and continues to be a strong advocate for a professional and free press.
During his numerous interactions with media practitioners, before and since his assumption to office, President David Granger has always demonstrated great respect and regard for the profession and for journalists.
The Stabroek News’s assertions to the contrary therefore, are false.
During his address to the press corps, at a Guyana Press Association workshop, hosted on April 29, 2016, the President was pellucid: “… journalism is a noble profession. Journalism like any other profession is based on a sense of social responsibility. It is not for the reckless, it is based on education. It’s not for the uneducated. It’s based on ethics, it’s based on experience…
My administration is committed also to non-interference in the independent media. Independent media act as watchdogs of the Government. They promote transparency by ensuring that information is provided to the public on the work of the Government. They’re a source of valuable feedback on the effectiveness of the efforts of the Government. There is no good reason for the State to interfere in the work of the private media. The relationship between the State and the private media must be seen as a partnership in providing a public good, that is, public information for the citizens of this country.”
President Granger strongly believes that citizens’ access to information is a democratic right and information is necessary for their informed participation in society.
Any restriction on the flow of information denies citizens the opportunity to participate fully in decision-making and, thereby, impairs democracy.
Fairness and balance are the hallmarks of good journalism. Fairness in a journalistic context, entails accurate reportage and examining every possible angle and perspective. Selectively using parts of quotes and information to frame a story presents a false and misleading account to readers on that particular issue or person.
As Gratten (1998) said, “It means a reasonable but not necessarily total distinction between reporting and comment… It means not being swayed by your own highly personal likes and dislikes of individuals.” Gratten, M. 1998. Richards, I. (2005) Quagmires and Quandaries: Exploring Journalism Ethics. Australia: University of new south wales press ltd. p29
Stabroek News has failed on many occasions, to report on important national events. In fact, in 2016, the Ministry of the Presidency had brought to the newspaper’s attention, that it had taken note that the paper had not been reporting on important national events involving the Presidency.
Stabroek News currently publishes weekly columns by the Presidential candidate of a political party and an executive member of the same party. While this is certainly within the paper’s purview, it is hypocritical to criticise the President on his stance for fairness and equitable reportage when the paper itself has not given equal opportunities to the other stakeholders.