The National Assembly’s proposed draft code of conduct for Journalists who cover matters related to parliamentary sittings was rejected by media operatives who attended a workshop there.
The consultations and media training workshop were facilitated by the Canadian High Commission, the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), and the Guyana Press Association (GPA) in the parliamentary chambers on April 7 and 8.
At one point during the training, the attendees were separated into two groups. While one group was chaired by veteran Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of the Trinidadian newspaper Newsday, Judy Raymond, the other group was chaired by founding ACM President Wesley Gibbings.
It was subsequently revealed that the parliamentary chambers were formulating a draft code of conduct, as well as mulling the introduction of accreditation for parliamentary reporters. Subsequent reports from the chairpersons of these sub-meetings showed that the attending media personnel were unanimously against the measure.
During her presentation on her group’s discussions, Raymond related that the media personnel were opposed to the draft code on the grounds of its potential to be used punitively. She reported that it was felt that since Journalists were already guided by ethical principles from the profession and workplace, additional codes of practice would be wholly unnecessary.
“There was a concern, with regard to both issues, that conditions or penalties might be imposed which could affect individual Journalists, to their detriment and possibly detract from the range and quality of coverage in Parliament,” Raymond reported.
Voicing similar views, GPA Executive Royden James reported that his group also felt that such measures should come from the media houses and not the National Assembly. Concerns were also raised about the purported security rationale behind accreditation.
The two-day media training had started on Saturday, with the aim to improve the media’s knowledge of parliamentary practices and procedures, improve the media’s understanding of its role in an evolving democracy and consider the tenets of journalistic ethics vis-à-vis parliamentary coverage.
At the end of the session, media operatives received a certificate of participation.