President's photo should have been on front page
Stabroek News
January 1, 2002

Dear Editor,

I know that Mr David de Caires always insists that the Stabroek News is impartial and tries to give fair coverage.

However, it seems that he is losing control of his paper or has already lost control. This was visibly demonstrated in the Sunday, December 23, 200l issue.

President Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Hoyte were both shown in photographs shopping during the Christmas period. The difference is that Mr Hoyte is shown on the front page in a full-colour 7" x 5-l/2" photo, while President Jagdeo is on page 9, in a poor black and white 5" x 5-l/2" photo.

If that is not a clear demonstration of bias Mr Editor, then what is? It shows that the Stabroek News is gradually falling into the hands of the PNC.

As far as I am aware there is no journalist on the staff known to support the PPP.

On the other hand many are known to be strong PNC supporters or even members. Mr Patrick Denny was a former official of the PNC, Oscar Clarke is the son of the PNC's General Secretary and Anna Benjamin for some reason demonstrates anti-PPP bias in almost all the editorials on Sundays.

It is hard to find out the real reason for this bias. After all the history of the PPP is a history of always expanding media and personal freedoms.

In that regard the press should be friendly to the PPP. Instead, many who supported the dictatorship are now abusing the freedoms, particularly freedom of the press.

The Stabroek News' concept of being impartial is somewhat warped. It seems that the concept is that to be fair you must attack the government. If that is so, it is wrong.

What is most necessary to be impartial is to be objective.

Putting Hoyte on the front page and the President on page 9, both doing Christmas shopping is not being objective, it is pandering to the PNC.

Yours faithfully,

Oliver Sam

Editor's note: Photos of President Jagdeo alone have appeared frequently on our front pages, and barring some special political context, we have felt under no constraint on such occasions to carry the Leader of the Opposition at the same time. Surely Mr Sam is not seriously suggesting that whenever we publish a photo of a leading politician from one major party, we must include one from the other party as well? It should be said that in any case, the question of photographic 'balance' in a newspaper cannot be decided on the basis of a single photograph on a single front page.

Where an incidental activity like Christmas shopping is concerned, we will simply apply the criteria of photographic quality - colour, composition, etc. - to decide whether a photograph merits front-page placement.

On the matter of the political persuasions of our reporters, Mr Sam presumes too much. The editors of this newspaper do not know the voting habits of each member of staff, and it is impossible for Mr Sam to know. In any event, the issue of which party a reporter supports in his or her private capacity as citizen is irrelevant; what is relevant is that in his or her work-related capacity as reporter he or she seeks to be fair and balanced in covering events.