The state media - a mouthpiece for nation building projects

by Dr Prem Misir
Guyana Chronicle
October 14, 2000

I want to address the private media first in this viewpoint. Today, these media agencies operate in a position of dominance in our culture and politics, as never seen before.

The media houses are ubiquitous, and may very well be about to saturate Guyanese lives. They play a daily role in attempting to influence the governing process in Guyana. Every day, the media attempt to evaluate the Government's performance, and this evaluation does not always comply with the norms of objectivity and fundamental fairness. These daily evaluations try to continuously inform and mobilise Guyanese. If they are successful in these efforts, then they are managing public sentiment. This is what we perceive of the private media today.

These activities of the private media may be quite fine, if their reporting is value-free and conform to some semblance of objectivity. But they are not. Most recently, one of the dailies, on its front page, carried a wholly inaccurate story on GBC, every element in the story was untrue, and its smacks of sloppy journalism. This is just one of many examples of the private media presenting inaccurate stories on the current administration and its agencies. As you relate to the broadcast, print, and electronic media each day, it is obvious that many private media houses are driven by partisan political sentiments. In some ways, these media houses place a higher priority on partisan political interests than on the national agenda seen through developmental outcomes.

Against this background of fundamental unfair private media reporting and blatant vulgarity masqueraded as journalism, it is important that the state media - GBC, GTV and the Guyana Chronicle - act like today's spokesperson for developmental projects and outcomes contributing to the national agenda.

Given the attempt by other media houses to manage public sentiment through presenting erroneous information periodically, we cannot depend solely on private media to disseminate information on developmental projects objectively.

Among the responsibilities of our state media, may be the following:

** The state media are expected to expose the public, both nationally and internationally, to the country's developmental efforts that contribute to nation building.

** The state media mission is to promote material interest and national security through informing the public by presenting consistently Government's philosophy, policies, programmes and projects.

** The state media perform the role of public relations and media policy planner. In this way, the state media administer public relations campaigns on national agenda items, such as HIV/AIDS, anti-narcotics, environmental issues, democracy, gender and ethnicity matters, housing, education, etc.

** The state media present policies and developmental programmes clearly and effectively, and also provide responsible discussions and opinions on these policies.

** The state media represent Guyana, not a single segment of Guyanese society, and so are expected to give a balanced and comprehensive projection.

Officials governing some state media around the world have used repressive sanctions and political pressures against journalists. Clearly, state media in such brutal environments are not free.

However, the Guyana media, including the state media are considered free, as determined by the Press Freedom Survey 1999.

And any broadcasting authority that is established to regulate the media, will have jurisdiction over both state and private media.

A better understanding of the role of the state media is necessary, the state media are not the mouthpiece of the People's Progressive Party/Civic. The state media are the spokesperson for developmental programmes, essential to nation building.

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