Global media fraternity celebrates World Press Freedom Day 2021, today. The Guyana Press Association (GPA) is calling on the government to reintroduce the weekly post-Cabinet briefings, and to make itself more available to media for interviews.
“The GPA also calls on political parties, state or otherwise to ensure all media have timely and adequate access for interviews as well as press engagements. Over the past 24 months, officials both political parties and others have used the pandemic as an excuse to avoid the media, avoid engagement on national issues and provide much needed scrutiny. The GPA uses this opportunity to call for the return of the weekly post-cabinet press briefing as well as more frequently held press conferences by the Minister of Health and key health officials on the pandemic;” the Association said in a statement.
The theme of this year’s observance is “Information as a Public Good”. The GPA said that this ultimately means that State Parties have an important role and responsibility as do the disseminators to ensure that we serve the public interest through our content.
“This task has become most important in the period of the pandemic when the public depends on journalists to provide accurate information to counter not only the anti-vaxers but also those who churn out misinformation and disinformation. States like Guyana have a critical role to facilitate this public good to the wider public. In this regard, the Guyana Press Association (GPA) urges the Guyana government to create a greater public awareness about the Access to Information mechanism so that not only journalists but the wider public can maximise its use,” the Association said.
Additionally, the GPA urges the media corps to dedicate journalists to research particular topics and utilise the Access to Information mechanism that needs to be revamped and made user-friendly in a simplified manner.
“In an age when some media practitioners are driven merely by a few lines to catch Social Media eyes, we have to be more aware of the information we put in the public domain. We have to respectful of persons faced with trauma, our treatment of victims of sexual assault, abuse and human trafficking and most importantly understand our role in the protection of minors and how they are portrayed in the stories we write,” the GPA said.
The Association noted the most pressing issue facing journalism is the viability of free and independent media because advertisers and sponsors believe that they get more returns on their dollars from Social Media, which, for the most part, is a “minefield of misinformation and disinformation satisfied by how many likes and shares one gets”.
The GPA said that worryingly, too, are elected officials who are “perpetuating these types of acts under the guise of influencers”.
“The GPA remains committed to media workers and the value we stand by, once again we salute you and your work on this day.”