Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kaieteur News’ “tabloidism” & the GPA’s silence!

The Observer: In Part 1, I confirmed what has long been suspected of the Kaieteur News with regards to its deliberateness in misleading the public. This characteristic of the newspaper was expounded on previously.

In this follow-up, at least two additional examples would be cited to further inveterate what is already pellucid in the minds of readers.

The first has to do with the newspaper’s coverage of the protest mounted by a group of concerned Guyanese. This group has been exercising their democratic right to freely protest which, by the way, has been restored by this administration.

They sought, through their peaceful actions, answers to issues of national importance from the Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC) who is also a Member of the National Assembly. Their demonstration attracted the media, including the Kaieteur News.

What was reported by the newspaper and its pro-Opposition colleagues in the fraternity leaves much to be desired of those who proclaim to be professional journalists.

This section of the media sought to grill the group of concerned citizens as to the reason for their protest. Nothing is wrong with this in principle. However, what was given prominence was the reported reluctance of the protesters to talk.

This was despite them bearing placards and having informed this section of the media of the reason for their protest. The Kaieteur News strongly insinuated that the protesters may have been paid.

The newspaper further dedicated much of the space allocated to the said protest to bombard the public with the reported silence of the protesters. What about the real reason for their protest?

This was not the focus of the related articles the newspaper published. The reason I am focusing on this, is because the Kaieteur News and its colleagues alluded to, don’t question PNCR/AFC protesters.

Over the last few weeks a small band of PNCR/AFC supporters was involved in protest outside the Office of the President, State House and even a leading hotel where the President recently delivered an important speech.

While the newspaper is never hesitant to cover such protests, no questions were asked of those involved. They are never asked who is funding them. They are never asked why they were protesting. They are never asked who and where their leaders were. They are never subjected to questioning as compared to the many asked of the concerned group of Guyanese. How can this be considered professional and fair journalism?

This is the same newspaper that dedicates its pages to demand professionalism from others. Is it that only one group can protest? Is it that the newspaper and its political masters were surprised that concerned Guyanese can mount peaceful protests against the Opposition and its establishments?

An article in the Saturday, August 29, 2009 edition of the Kaieteur News, further demonstrates the newspaper’s biased reporting.

This is evident in the page 2 article captioned, “Picketers clash outside Congress Place”. The article was about a protest mounted by the said concerned group of Guyanese outside the PNCR Headquarters. During the said protest, a group of PNCR/AFC protesters arrived to counter protest.

Paragraph 3 stated, “This newspaper (the Kaieteur News) sought to solicit a comment from the group calling themselves ‘concerned citizens’ but was told that the placards they were bearing said everything”. Paragraph 3 stated, “When asked what the group hoped to achieved, they reiterated that the placards were speaking for them, but were vociferous in saying that they were not paid to conduct the activity”.

Why probe, after being told the reason for their protest? The newspaper carried a photograph captioned, “PNC supporters vs ‘Concerned citizens”. It showed the two set of protesters facing each other outside Congress Place. Again, why no questions were posed to the PNC supporters about their motive and funding? The article also stated in paragraph 5 that, “After about an hour-long standoff with the PNCR supporters seemingly defending the fort, some of the obviously agitated party members approached the concerned group and in the process managed to retrieve some of their placards which were promptly torn to shreds.

In other words, the PNCR supporters, as stated in the Kaieteur News, assaulted the concerned group and destroyed their placards. This concerned group was prevented from exercising their Constitutional right. Why wasn’t the focus of the Kaieteur News’ article the assault of peaceful protesters? Why wasn’t the story focused on the destruction of property?

What if it was the reverse i.e. the concerned group being engaged in the disruption of the PNCR’s protest? It that were the case, the Kaieteur News headline would have screamed “PPP thugs assault peaceful PNCR protesters”. This story, had it happened, would have been repeated in the said newspaper and on affiliated television stations.

In presenting the story as it did, the Kaieteur News has further clarified its anti-government pro-Opposition position. Yet, as I alluded, the said newspaper would want the public to believe that it is a professional outfit.

This blatant unprofessionalism has seemingly gone unnoticed by the Guyana Press Association (GPA), which has never missed an opportunity to castigate the State media and the administration.

Why hasn’t the GPA commented on this and other issues raised about the Kaieteur News’ unprofessional and blatant biased reporting? Isn’t the Press Association the advocate to the adherence to the basic tenets of journalistic practices?

Their silence is deafening, but not surprising. The political position its leadership has taken is no secret. Its current President, Gordon Moseley, has been banned from the Office of the President and State House for disparaging remarks he made against the Head of State.

His reporting has shown a bias towards the Opposition. As such he and the GPA would not even entertain the thought of issuing a statement which may be unfavourable to the Kaieteur News.

Gordon’s boss, Enrico Woolford, contributes to the Kaieteur News as evident during the trial of Robert Simels. Julia Johnson, past President of the GPA and Publisher of “Prime News” aired on Hoyte/Blackman Television Station, also contributed to the Kaieteur News. This makes it impossible for the GPA to bring to bear any sanction on the Kaieteur News.

This is stacked against readers who are exposed to frequent inaccurate and biased stories in the Kaieteur News.

As such, readers must demand that the GPA leadership do the decent thing and resign, if they cannot ensure that the Kaieteur News stays steadfast to journalistic ethics.

The second example I wish to mention has to do with the absence of coverage by the Kaieteur News of the two cricket matches played at the National Stadium on Friday 04, and Saturday 05 of September, 2009.

These matches involved leading West Indies and Regional players; Chris Gayle, Ronnie Sarwan, the Bravos and Ganga are some who participated. It was played under floodlights at the Stadium.

This said newspaper sent a reporter, sponsored or otherwise, to cover motor racing in Barbados towards the end of August 2009. This is commendable in an effort for Guyanese here to be kept abreast with that sport.

However, it must be noted that no sponsorship is needed for coverage by the media of the two cricket matches mentioned. The venue is less than a ten-minute drive from the newspaper’s centre of operation. The matches were the biggest in the Region in recent months. The stars absent from the Bangladesh series were present. Why didn’t the Kaieteur News cover the events? Simple, it was held under the auspices of the Head of State.

The Kaieteur News boasts of having a large readership and online following.

Their readers were robbed of the images of a packed Stadium and the details of the two matches. Cricket-starved readers were deprived as a result of the Kaieteur News’ anti-government position which has led it to sacrifice sports for political loyalty to the Opposition.

No further evidence is needed with regards to the Kaieteur News’ political vendetta.

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