COGNISANT of the dynamic media landscape here, training for local journalists will continue, and counselling will be provided to media professionals who request this assistance, according to a statement from the Guyana Press Association (GPA).
The Association has acknowledged in its end-of-year statement that 2020 has been a challenging year for local journalists, since it featured the elections’ campaigns and subsequent protracted elections, alongside the enduring COVID-19 pandemic.
“The GPA remains committed to ensuring that our members are equipped for the changing world of news. We conducted a series of training in 2020, utilising virtual platforms, and we aim to continue doing so in the new year,” the Association emphasised in its statement.
For the first quarter of the year, there will be virtual training sessions on providing coverage of the local courts, which are being undertaken by the GPA along with the Judiciary and Justice Education Society. The statement also highlighted that the Association will continue with its energy, oil and gas training and seminars, with support from the Open Society Foundation.
Additionally, the Association will strive to build upon other areas of training, including continued sessions for sport journalists, photographers and videographers and editors. And, trips to outlying regions and border communities may be facilitated to enhance the media’s reporting on these locations.
“2020 has placed concerns of mental health at the forefront, and we intend to facilitate provision of counselling services, with the help of a mental health professional, to media professionals who have requested this assistance,” the statement also highlighted.
In addition to providing this mental health assistance to media professionals, the GPA said that guidelines to aid reporting on suicide in Guyana will also be rolled out.
In the months ahead, the incumbent executive members of the press body, led by President and veteran journalist, Nazima Raghubir, will also direct their attention to electing a new executive body sometime in the first quarter of the year; this election was due in January, 2020. The statement explained that in January 2020, the executive met and decided to postpone GPA’s election until after the General and Regional Elections in March, since they felt that holding such elections during a period of uncertainty would be “imprudent”.
“However, we did not cater for the five- month-long election, and the subsequent pandemic. The latter has forced us to continue with the postponement of our elections,” the statement read.
Having these elections, however, depend upon the public health measures in place, and whether the membership can meet as a group. It was explained that at present, the GPA’s Constitution does not make provisions for virtual meetings, and until changes to the Constitution can be made, the body cannot ethically facilitate such meetings.
The Association, through the statement, also called for there to be solace in the media community.
“We must remain committed to ensuring healthy work/life balances as we take our responsibility as journalists seriously. We must carry out our mandate while recognising the tenets of ethical journalism, fairness, sensitivity and balance, as we strive to ensure our work informs the public rather than confuse it,” it said.