Slamming media slant

Guyana Chronicle
December 25, 1999

POLICE Commissioner, Mr Laurie Lewis has again criticised sections of the media which he claims are guilty of slanting the news and is calling for a return of what was once practised by the state media here as `development support communication' .

The abuse of established media principles which was carried out under the development support communication in the days of total state control of the media here will not endear an otherwise laudable scheme to journalists eager to get at the truth.

There is an argument to be made for the media supporting more development stories but the main point in a competitive environment is that these are not usually stories that sell newspapers or pull viewers to television or listeners to radio.

So `sensationalism' tends to hold sway over otherwise worthwhile events that should be covered and we think this is the point of concern for Mr Lewis and many others, including those in government.

In Mr Lewis' case, he feels the media need to understand that although crime is a difficult situation to deal with, the Police Force is doing the best it can given the resources it has at its disposal.

All he is asking, he said at the Force's annual awards ceremony Wednesday, is for the media to be honest in coverage so that the public will come to appreciate the tremendous work being done by the force.

The major problem for Mr Lewis and police forces around the world is that `good news' is not what most people want to hear and this is an area of considerable concern for media owners and editors all over.

Journalists also tend to be wary of police `good' stories, believing that these may be attempts at covering up the `real' stories.

People who do not enjoy favourable media coverage tend to blame the media for their troubles, but Mr Lewis has a point.

All's not that bad in the Police Force here and attempts must be made to report on the positive aspects - of not only the Police, but other segments of what make up the society.

"I would be very frank - we do get into trouble with the odd Policeman who decides that abuse of his authority is the way to go, but I want to give the assurance here and through you in the media that we will deal and are dealing with those incidents", Mr Lewis said.

And he argues that the Force has a better record of dealing with their people than many of the organisations which are wont to criticise it.

That's debatable but in as much as the Police Force is perceived by the media as not always willing to come clean on issues involving it, there's room for the media to be more fair-minded and to go an extra mile to be balanced.

Those not professionally inclined will continue in their deplorable practices but the established media can take on board some of the Commissioner's points and strive for a better rapport.

An improved Police-media-public relationship can redound only to the good of the society at large.

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