A Week in the Chronic
October 22, 2003
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On Tuesday, striking Wales sugar workers were tear-gassed by the police and twelve of them arrested. The Guyana Chronicle’s (The Chronic) Wednesday headline “Labour Ministry to intervene in Wales strike” makes no mention of the police actions. Only the faint strap line above - ‘Police break up illegal march’ suggests something went awry. Meanwhile, the events were being played ad nauseam on Channel Six including the famous moment when CN Sharma tumbles into the tray of his truck. (A priceless moment which we hope he will include in the introduction to Justice for All.)
But let’s not digress. Teargas is mentioned in the Chronic’s story almost in the last paragraph and even then as part of a police press release that said the police were FORCED to use it (as opposed to just going over and telling the workers to stop moving the tractor trailer).
Rewind to Monday and the Chronic’s stunning headline news that “his Excellency the President of Guyana has attributed the fresh air of peace and tranquility being experienced in the nation to the quiet work of many religious leaders.” Both parts of this sentence are untrue.
But looking through a week’s worth of the Chronic it is incredible how often the President and his ministers feature between the newspaper’s pandering to its advertisers and regurgitating GINA press releases.
President Jagdeo makes the front page cutting a ribbon for some new church; then on Page Nine he is seen handing over a CXC plaque. Then there are five photos of him at the trade fair. See Jagdeo looking at a display, see him sitting in a wicker chair, see him posing with two girls. Sam Hinds gets a look in on Page 11 speaking to Severn Trent officials and probably begging them not to turn GWI into another GPL
The headline is “Government to ensure better industrial climate”. As readers were digesting this the police were busy tear-gassing the same sugar workers. And don’t forget the crude commercial plug for Didco with a picture of Deo Singh unloading eggs from a container. Message: there will be enough Didco chicken for Xmas. You cannot buy such good publicity, but you can get it for free on the front page of the Chronic.
The President again makes the front page alongside GAWU chief Komal Chand ,whose workers only 24 hours later were to be gassed by the police.
The day after the tear-gassing, the most important story in Guyana according to the Chronic is the unveiling of an AIDS quilt and the headline that “Guyana is a small country with a big problem”. Commercial plugs include photos for Universal Airlines, Farfan and Mendes and Western Union. Even the Sports section gets a few plugs in, since the major story for that day is that DDL’s Mineral Water and Continental’s Hi Five juices are to be the official beverages of the South American 10 km run with a photo of the Diamond logo - more free advertising. And yes, Jagdeo gets another look in on page 17 as he hands over a trophy to a GCE student.
After downplaying the strike the day before, the news that the “Wales sugar workers back on job today” is delivered in bold headlines. The story makes sure to mention that the march “was reportedly agitated by Justice For All Leader CN Sharma”. Either it was or it was not agitated...
The Moonie Mayor Green also gets top billing with his unique suggestion to “Harmonise religions to up society’s moral values.” Whatever that means. Minister of Home Affairs, not usually one to speak to the independent press, is not averse to being Minister of the Day in the front page photo. We also learn via another photo that he is ‘impressed’ with the new facility at the Mazaruni prisons. Minister Nokta gets his mug on page 13 as part of a visit to Region Eight ,where the locust invasion is said to be not too bad. And Sam Hinds gets on the back page in a photo of him playing table tennis with Chinese ambassador Song Tao. Readers are thrilled to learn that Banks is to sponsor the senior weightlifting competition.
OK moving onto Friday... a hotchpotch of headlines as if the editor is not sure which one is the most important. Then again you just know it has to be Satch “Sawh reaffirms Guyana’s capacity to feed the Caribbean region”. “President Jagdeo on Brazil visit” and a photo just in case we forgot what he looked like is also front page news. The sugar workers story lingers but the Chronic instead of genuinely covering the PNCR press conference refutes the party’s assertions for the first six paragraphs of a story headlined “PNC/R in no position to question PPP’s working class credentials” with no source for this comment. It then gives the PNCR two paragraphs on its side and spends another three paragraphs refuting it again. This includes the dangerous comparison that the PNCR once ordered the tear-gassing of bauxite workers.
Sawh gets his moustache in on page 12 and Gajraj a picture on page 13. By the way how annoying are these new classified pages that duplicate those from the back pages?
What exactly is the purpose except to get in the way of reading what is there. Then again the classifieds continue to be the most interesting part of the paper.
Finally, Jagdeo poses with some weightlifters on the back page in case we forgot what he looks like from the front.
“Sugar output increases 154% since 1990”. The strap line should have read “This is the productivity you get when you tear-gas workers”. Big photo is a “Last minute Brief” showing President Jagdeo, Sam Hinds and an apparently sockless Roger Luncheon conferring with the Police’s McDonald and an army official. The “Taxi driver kidnapped” is apparently not as important as Jagdeo and sugar output in the last ten years.
Page Two has another picture of Jagdeo at the new GPC labs where we learn he is “pleased and impressed with what he saw,” good PR for GPC.
Meanwhile, this headline on page 12 “ Unions endorse Guysuco HIV/AIDS fight policy on confidentiality” is completely nonsensical as is the first paragraph of the story.
Sports: “Banks DIH donates 47 trophies for GAWA”
The pressing news is that “Guyanese have challenging responsibility for building Guyana - Prime Minister Hinds.” (As opposed to an unchallenging responsibility?) The nation should also be reassured that there is a “Full supply of red eye treatment at GPHC”.
The headline story on Page 9 once again notes such uplifting information that “Guyana is in its early stages of development, but with a sense of togetherness and a spirit of team Guyana much can be accomplished.” Doesn’t that just make you feel better? See Page 11 for a shameless commercial plug for Kwality Mall as if this is really news.
Sunday readers were also treated to a lengthy article on Testicle Swellings, replete with diagrams, that just about sums up a week in the Chronic.
Anguished plea of the week
Enough already with the DEC salt thing!