Perilous times for Guyana free press

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Editorial by the Trinidad Express Newspaper

Publisher of the Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall speaking to members of the media recently
Publisher of the Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall speaking to members of the media recently

Once again in Guyana, relations between a private media house and the ruling administration have hit rock bottom, or lower. And once again, regional voices must be raised to register concern about the persistence of entrenched negative predispositions in official quarters against the free and independent media in Guyana.

In line with a policy tradition common to both parties which have formed the government, print and broadcast entities owned, operated and controlled by the State have continued to be fixtures of the media landscape. It’s against this background that Guyanese private interests have invested in making real and vibrant a diversity of media voices, giving effect to freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution of the republic and related international conventions.

The ruling administration has not hesitated to utilise State media in advancing its political “line” and policy emphases, and alternately to reply to criticism. The operations of privately owned media legitimately to challenge official pronouncements, to question and to investigate have proved to be risky and costly.  

Stabroek News, privately owned, had suffered extended state advertising boycotts as punishment for publication of news and opinion deemed unfavorable to the Government. Stabroek News, having heroically come into existence amid the harsher scorched-earth policies against private media enforced by the former Forbes Burham regime, bounced back.

Disingenuously, the government placed its ads with the other privately owned daily, Kaieteur News, justifying the decision on alleged economic grounds. Now, it’s the turn of Kaieteur News, to be targeted with rhetorical and other attacks by the government. Publisher Glen Lall has been facing prosecution on tax-related charges. Such matters should duly and properly be settled before the Guyana courts.

But meanwhile, Mr Lall and his newspaper have found reason to believe in the existence of no-holds-barred antipathy in government circles, especially connected with the Attorney General. Kaieteur News took the extraordinary step of releasing the recording of a private conversation between a Kaieteur News reporter and the Guyana Attorney General.

In the recording, the AG was heard issuing dire warnings of what sounded like impending physical retaliation against the newspaper. The AG also urged the reporter to quit the paper ahead of such attacks.

Kaieteur News, in 2006, underwent the horrific experience of the multiple murder on its plant one evening of its pressroom staff. The paper survived that hit, to the extent of never ceasing publication.

Understandably, now, however, Kaieteur takes seriously any threatening noises by the AG suggestive of physical harm threatened to its premises and personnel. Now that such apparent threats have been made public, President Donald Ramotar’s government should go beyond denouncing the secret taping. The region waits to hear him make clear his total repudiation of violent attacks, threatened or planned, against Kaieteur News.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Quote: “Once again in Guyana, relations between a private media house and the ruling administration have hit rock bottom, or lower”.

    What a load of BS. The Trinidad Express crap is on the bandwagon of sensational journalism. This newspaper ran to a conclusion like an “express” speed train without any investigation. This is not about a private media house and government. Its about Glen Lall using his money, to target individuals because his illegal activities are being exposed. He happens to own a media house which he uses as his personal weapon. Guyana has the most free / liberal media in the world. You are allowed to say and write anything you want. The Trinidad Express is way behind, so to this Trini newspaper be informed that its not about the “private” media, its a personal battle between two persons with relatives involved. The anti-government press in Guyana will no doubt swallow this crap up in no time because its foreign and it fits their agenda.

  2. The recording was done so illegally by Mr. Lall. It is counterproductive for anyone to issue statements against the president, for then they will be telling the public that hey support the use of wire tapping and eavesdropping and manipulation of private conversations.

    The fact that Mr. Lall refuses to cooperate with the police and he Mr. Lall is not forcing the issue on the recording is testimony that he Lall is aware that the recording was in fact illegal.

  3. The chorus of voices against the AG are no doubt biased.
    It suits the Opposition agenda.
    Talk is sheep!

  4. EMILE..ALL DEM TRINI BAI N GAL ARE CALLED SAGA BAI SAGA GAL DEM LIVE LIKE ROACH IN TORONTO CANADA ON WELFARE SINCE THEM DONT LIKE WOK.

  5. free and independent media in Guyana…yep oh yep they are free n independent alright..but free when journalists and owners words becomes news? lies told must be taken as truths and government must not respond? and what crap you talking about Stabroek News, having heroically come into existence amid the harsher scorched-earth policies against private media enforced by the former Forbes Burham regime, bounced back. SN came on line in 85 wen Bunom dead yall big dummies..Why should government spend taxpayers dollars on any news media to place ads for it then turn around and lie about their ministers??
    Let me say this and done with it…U must first ask KN why they print that Guyanese working busting their backs as slaves with a Chinese Logging Co for GY$500.0 per day…Is true or lies..??KN lied about that and everything else since BEGGARS IN GUYANA MAKE MORE THAN THAT PER DAY..KN IS NOTHING BUT A SINK ROTTEN GOSSIP TABLOID WITH A BUNCH OF CRIMINALS RUNNING IT..THE KN BOSS KILLED A MAN AND NOTHING CAME OF IT..THE KN BOSS USED TO SELL BORA ON A TINY STAND AND BECOME OF OF THE RICHEST PERSON IN GUYANA..YALL WANT INVESTIGATE HOW THAT HAPPENED ? YALL SOUNDS LIKE CRIMINALS THAT STICK TOGETHER..KN BOSS EVADE TAX..BUT HE IS YALL GOD SO NO ONE MUST INVESTIAGE HIM..KN BOSS THREATENED THE GRA BOSS SO BECAUSE THE KN BOSS IS GOD NO ONE MUST INVESTIGATE HE.

  6. Thank you, TT Guardian. All Caribbean media houses should raise their collective voice and condemn the death threats by AG Nandlall. Caricom leaders should also make public statements against Ramotar for refusing to even distance himself and government from the threats or to let Nandlall go!

  7. Trinidad Express Newspaper should mind their own business.
    How do they know that KN News is targeted? This is a very serious allegation.
    Do you send your people to wiretap and bug people phones? If it is OK in Trinidad, well, surprise it is not OK elsewhere.
    Do you know that the bugging of phones in the Democratic Party’s National Committee offices brought a US President down?
    If this newspaper are being used by you as a benchmark, you better make an adjustment and do better.
    Stabroek News is not in the same category as KN Sir.
    Those who use their newspaper as a dirty mudslinging phone bugging illegal recording machine deserved the F-Bomb.

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