Dear Editor,

As a frequent writer on issues of national importance, and public policy analysis, I have noted the recent missive by the Guyana Press Association (GPA) with interest, which was published on July 18, 2023, with the caption: “GPA fears return to media repression with new press conference guidelines.”

Editor, I wish to make a few comments on the foregoing referenced missive. The GPA equated restrictions on the Presidential Press Conference to that of repression. But would the GPA appreciate and acknowledge the fact that most of the journalists asked too many questions on unrelated matters to the press conference, and on matters that have already been fully dealt with by the administration?

That aside, I think it is imperative for one to appreciate that typically, Presidential Press Conferences are protocol driven and conducted differently from other press conferences, such as the format employed by the Vice President, which is more liberal. And, I dare say, too liberal sometimes: for this, I commend the Vice President’s patience and tolerance in dealing with redundant and repetitive questions, for instance, from Kaieteur News publisher.

Notwithstanding the above, my substantive commentary and observations are as follows:

(a) The GPA’s missive failed to highlight in what way the President’s press conference was repressive other than restricting the number of questions per journalist. I, personally, see no problem with this considering the President’s time, and respect for protocol. It was up to the media to make the best use of the press conference and arguably, it didn’t. Further, even though some operatives asked more questions than they were allowed, the President graciously provided answers without allowing the moderator to disallow them. His Excellency must be commended for this.

(b) There is this complaint about limited number of questions and that there are many pressing questions they (the media) would like for the President to address. Yet, the missive failed to highlight what are those questions.

I think what the media and /or the GPA failed to acknowledge is that it is unfair to only examine the issue narrowly―that is, the President hardly holds a press conference. The President is the Head of State. The fact is that the Government conducts press conferences frequently and adequately. Apart from press conferences, there are many other public forums throughout the year where government officials engage the public, and disseminate information on the government’s work, to the public, through the media.

Additionally, media houses often times engage government ministers for exclusive interviews on topical issues. I don’t think all of the media entities take advantage of this. There is hardly any question or concern that the media or any other stakeholders have, that the government has not dealt with or has disclosed its rationale and justification for its position.

I end by asking what are the pressing questions the GPA would like the President and by extension, the government, to address? And, if I may, what questions, issues, or concerns, in the GPA’s view, remained unaddressed since assuming office in 2020?

Yours respectfully,
Joel Bhagwandin


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