The Guyana Press Association (GPA) and President David Granger are at odds over statements made by the Executive on the placement of State advertisements.
During his live interview with Kaieteur Radio on November 1, 2019, the President was asked for his position on the withholding of ads from the newspaper to which he responded, “There must be fairness. We believe that the advertisements should be directed to the media houses based on their willingness to disseminate news fairly.”
“We need to have media houses which are fair and balanced. I do not believe that it is the right of any editor or any media house to … deliberately not report on public events out of bias,” the President said.
But further in the interview, President Granger had stated that he does not support the withholding of state advertisements.
“Papers must be guaranteed, well, media houses, because now we’re not only dealing with the four urban-based newspapers… they must all be given fair access to the advertisements of the State. It is a State resource. It is not a private resource.”
The GPA, in a statement on Saturday, expressed “disappointment” with the President’s response, noting that “the gist of the President’s remarks appears to be that the allocation of paid State advertising is contingent upon favourable coverage of his administration.”
The Press Association said State advertising should neither be employed as a form of reward nor as punishment for perceived media transgressions.
“We recognise no visible difference between this position and the problems encountered during the term of the previous government,” the media representative body noted.
The GPA encouraged the Government to examine how all media houses can benefit from such ads.
“In this very critical time in Guyana, when all should be informed, media houses ought to be reminded of their need to provide the truth and fact-based journalism. Editorial activism has its place but citizens right to be informed must always triumph,” the GPA said.
Meanwhile, the Government in response to GPA statement said the press body “misconstrued” the President’s remarks.
“President Granger’s statements during the interview, reflect his long-held position on the importance of professional journalism.
“The President, during his numerous interactions with media practitioners, over the years, has always said that journalism, like any other profession, must be based on a sense of social responsibility and ethics.
“The GPA’s statement, therefore, that the “The gist of the President’s remarks appears to be that allocation of paid state advertisement is contingent upon favourable coverage of his administration” is absurd.
“At no time during the interview did President Granger say or imply that he was seeking favourable media coverage of his administration,” the statement from the Ministry of the Presidency noted.
The President’s office called on the GPA to retract its statement and to issue an apology.