Monday, February 28, 2011

Kissoon and Benschop's attempt to disrupt ERC's Media Workshop rejected.

The two-day media encounter facilitated by the Ethnic Relations Commission in collaboration with Guyana Press Association (GPA), University of Guyana Centre for Communication Studies, Guyana Media Proprietors and Owners Association, the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) and the Government Information Agency (GINA), concluded Saturday with expressions of a sense of satisfaction and the conclusion that the event was useful, stimulating and beneficially functional. The various partners of Media Encounter 2011 considered the participation of approximately 110 persons in the two-day event a positive development, remarking that the robust involvement of students of communication and young members employed in the media augurs well for continued efforts to further improve journalistic standards in order for the media to continue to effectively undertake its societal role and better serve the public.

Freddie Kissoon and Mark Benschop's attempts to disrupt the event were rejected by members of the panel. After a presentation by Carolyn Walcott, a representative from the University of Guyana, Centre for Communication Studies Kissoon proceeded to question the ERC's right to present the laws in question and stated that it was unfair that "his colleagues" from the private media houses, namely, Stabroek News, Kaieteur News and Prime News were not part of the seminar. He also stated that there had been no presentations by the ERC Chairman and GPA President. His remark was rebutted by by Enrico Woolford of Capitol News, who pointed out that a presentation had in fact been made by Moseley and that the printout of the statement was available. Concerning the absence of private media houses, head of the Government Information Agency (GINA) Neaz Subhan was swift to point out that there were two representatives from Stabroek News.

The emphasis of the ERC on the use of education and moral persuasion as an approach to interactions between the ERC and the media was commended. Further, it was hoped that ERC and its partners both developed a fuller understanding of the constitutional mandate of the ERC as well as complexity of the issues that confront media workers.

While the ERC received input from media practitioners for the conduct of its functions in the forthcoming elections period, the media practitioners called upon the ERC to seek a Declarative Statement from the Judicial Branch in its quest for elucidation of aspects of the Racial Hostility Act. A major emphasis of the media encounter was discussion of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act and the Racial Hostility (Amendment) Act.

During the opening ceremony, ERC Chairman Bishop Juan Edghill described the media as important stakeholders with responsibility to report accurately and without bias. He expressed the view that the highest level of professionalism should at all times be expressed by media operatives when reporting on sensitive matters.

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