An advocate for professional, free press

President David Granger and members of the media during his 2016 Media Brunch held at State House

…President rubbishes Stabroek News claims of unfairness
…paper accused of ignoring important national events

President David Granger has always been and continues to be a strong advocate for a professional and free press, the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP) said in a statement on Thursday as it refuted claims made by Stabroek News.

In its November 7, 2019 editorial under the title ‘The President and ‘fairness’ in the press,’ Stabroek News deliberately misrepresented the statements made by the President during a live radio interview with Kaieteur Radio last Friday, the ministry said.

“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,” MOTP stated.

It pointed out that in addressing media operatives in April 2016; the President was pellucid on his position on a free press.

“…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,” the President had said.

The MOPT reiterated that 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,” it said.
The MOTP added: “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.”

According to the ministry, the 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,” it pointed out.

It also observed that 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,” MOTP said.