Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Mc Coy , the Messenger

Stabroek News is aligned with the political opposition

April 2, 2008

Dear Editor,

Stabroek News’ Editor’s note to my letter captioned “Your report on the resurrection of a phantom squad shows bias” (08.03.30) cleverly evaded the real argument and resorted to semantics.

Throughout my letter, without any haziness my argument dwelled on Stabroek News sharing the agenda of the political opposition in Guyana.

The use of the March 25, Page 1 article, headlined: Has the phantom gang come out of retirement?’’ was merely an example in support of my argument. Instead the Editor chose to dive into semantics by blaming carelessness on my part for using ‘’resurrection’’ of the phantom gang in place of its original headline. The headline itself implies a resurrection of the gang though there is no evidence to support it even existed in the first place. However, for any group to come out of retirement means there was a resurrection of its previous interests, relevance and or activity. We basically agreed, let’s not quibble over semantics.

But why this attempt to cloud the real issue which surrounds Stabroek News’ strong partnership with the political opposition, using the free press to generate and promote hostility against the PPP/C Administration and propagating particular lines of the political opposition? Stabroek News plays a lead role in either advancing or repeating these particular lines.

It is an opportune moment, for the sake of clarity, to note that the PPP/C Administration has replaced an era of a suppressed and docile media with a predominantly critical free press.

During the PNC era Guyanese were accused of criticizing the Government even in the confines of their living room and faced serious consequences. Today, all over Guyana there is freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The media in Guyana criticize the Government, write about anything, and put forward all sorts of unfounded allegations.
I thought this would be necessary to mention so as to remove lingering doubts about the Government’s tenacity to criticisms. The fact that media practitioners and media houses ply their trade unhindered, demonstrates the PPP/C commitment to the principles of democracy.

In Stabroek News’ case my argument is specifically about its biases, and calculated propagation of the views and opinions of the political opposition. Even that is okay too but Stabroek News must first categorically admit for the ‘public good’ that it prefers a particular course. This follows that there are ethical and moral standards and values that must be upheld by a free and responsible press.

Yours faithfully,
Kwame Mc Coy

Editor’s note
From time immemorial governments have accused independent newspapers of supporting the opposition. Structurally this is because, as the main actor in the affairs of the state, governments inevitably attract the focus of editorial comment.
When this newspaper started in 1986 and fought, among other things, for free and fair elections and the return of democracy it was stated by the then PNC government that the Stabroek News supported the opposition and was against the government.

Free and independent newspapers must learn to live with this perennial criticism. If they are doing their job they will inevitably from time to time criticise various policies and actions of the government. The worse the quality of government the more frequent will be their critiques and these critiques will inevitably sometimes be similar to those put forward by the political opposition.

It is, however, a massive leap from this to the statement that a newspaper is politically aligned with the political opposition. That is entirely untrue in our case. We are not aligned to any political party and call the shots as we see them based on our understanding of the situation.

On the question of media ethics, this newspaper has from the outset sought to operate in a professional manner and to seek all relevant sides of a particular issue being reported on. As stated previously, this is sometimes not possible where government employees or other persons are unwilling to offer their views on particular issues.
Comment is free, facts are sacred. News items should be reported as fairly and objectively as possible, free from any editorial bias.

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