The Guyana Press Association has issued a warning to the new government not to repeat the mistakes of the past government when it comes to the rights of media workers and press freedom in Guyana.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Guyana Press Association (GPA) said it has noted with concern, the recent reports of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s interaction with a Chronicle reporter following the publication of a news report in the Guyana Chronicle, over which the Prime Minister expressed disappointment.
“The GPA feels compelled to comment on the issue, because while the Prime Minister is free to express his views, he should not express such views directly to media workers as this is known to be a tactic of intimidation and may have a dampening effect on press freedom that can result in self-censorship”, the media body said.
The GPA statement added that the media body “regards the Prime Minister’s stated pro-government expectations of the publicly-funded Guyana Chronicle newspaper (and presumably all State-owned media) as a retrograde and intolerable step that betrays the governing Coalition’s campaign and post-election promises not to engage in the same press freedom violations previous administrations were accused of.”
It said that on the matter of the Prime Minister’s comment on “government owned media” there needs to be a clear distinction between the State and the Government.
The GPA said it wishes to suggest that there should be, following extensive consultations, a policy which adumbrates the way the executive should interact with state-owned media that would allow for freedom of the press to be exercised in a meaningful way within these entities.
“Integral also in the approach towards a free and open State media, the Association believes, should be the reform of the Broadcasting Act and the adoption of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s editorial guidelines that govern that United Kingdom State-owned and funded broadcaster.”
The media body also called on all journalists never to be swayed by opinion, good or bad, “once your story is factual, accurate and true. Questions from political leaders regarding your work should be directed to your editors.”
Media workers in both the private and state media have expressed concern over recent statements in the media by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo about the role of the state media.
Nagamootoo holds responsibility for public information.