Tell us what it's going to take for you to return to Guyana.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Is Guyana's government threatening or enabling freedom of the press?

I've sat back for a while now and watched the debate about whether or not the government of Guyana is actually threatening the freedom of the press. I was on the fence leaning towards the 'yes it is' side until about 2 minutes ago.

Firstly, I'd like to ask what freedom of the press entails. Freedom of the press is freedom from whom or what? A state's governing body has the legal monopoly on the use of coercive force. If the government is one of your newspaper's larger clients, does that increase or diminish your freedom to publish what you want? I can think of arguments that could go both ways.

A safe assumption may be that if government is no longer a client of a publication, the publication would have more liberty to publish material that is critical of the government.

Likewise it is helpful to examine the government the way one would a self-interested individual. Who in his right mind would choose to fund another entity that is highly critical of it? It's counterintuitive to bankroll the exposure of one's own impropriety. The government is a consumer of advertising. It should be expected to react to the same incentives a company might. Would Banks DIH buy advertising in the same medium that also writes exposes of its executives?

It's fallacious to deal with government while expecting it to act on a higher plane when in fact it will usually act like everyone else, or worse.

It seems to me that Stabroek News doesn't view government ad revenues in this light. My guess is that it sees them as a tax rebate or as a subsidy. A newspaper that gets handouts or special treatment like that from government can hardly be expected to continue to play the important role of an independent medium. Can one be free from a government while being dependent on its business? Stabroek News can better serve the public by doing what it can to execute a successful business model without government ad revenue.

As long as the government isn't doing anything else to cause tangible losses to Stabroek News, the government is simply using market behavior to retaliate against the newspaper. It's mean-spirited and certainly not 'fair'. Nevertheless, it leaves Stabroek News freer to criticize the government without causing a conflict of interest.


lefobserver said...


Anonymous said...

Annand said...

I agree! If the newspapers want total freedom of press then they need to be completely free of everything government. But is that even possible when strings are always being pulled by some party?

coupdecoeur said...

a small mark at the time of my passage on your very beautiful blog!
thanks for making us share your moments
you have a translation of my English space!
cordially from France
¸..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:-
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´* ~ Chris ~ -:¦:-

Our Society said...

The freedom of press could cause some problems in the structure of country. They would have to open the country to everyone, not only the press in Guyana. what is bad with that? well Guyana is more on the socialist side of things, the Government wants certain control...
I think that the press is probably move powerful than the Government, with that in mind they are able to expose flaws of the Government and by practicing Socialism this well cause lots of problems for the Government.

I am for free press and the reason is, that i would like the country to move a little in the middle, instead of far left. (middle of socialism and capitalism).