Media gets elections-ready

─ 2-day training session begins

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, January 25, 2020

A two-day training exercise to prepare media personnel for the upcoming General and Regional Elections began on Saturday.

President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) President Nazima Raghubir said the training is necessary for the media to understand its role during elections’ coverage and to disseminate credible information. Raghubir also noted one of the intended outcomes of the training is to guarantee, “our work fosters an environment of social cohesion at an often-tense period.”

“As we approach this period, GPA would like to encourage media houses to have some introspection and examine how our work can impact on the greater good for this country in this period and beyond,” Raghubir emphasised.

“Examine whether or not we are writing the real stories that ought to be told. Are we covering the real issues tied to elections and the post-election period when the real work ought to begin? Are our headlines and soundbites informing our audiences and most importantly are we really holding our politicians accountable?” the GPA Head continued.

Meanwhile, Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh (ret’d) lauded the media’s role in providing coverage of the runup to elections particularly coverage of Nominations Day.

“When the landscape is saturated with election content which provides knowledge to the citizenry to help them in the process […] It encourages democracy,” the GECOM Chair noted.

She also cautioned the media to practise responsible journalism. “In the interest of peace and stability, I urge you not to execute your functions at the expense of a peaceful society […] Do not sensationalise your stories. Ensure that you have credible information,” the GECOM Chair remarked.

Reiterating GECOM’s commitment to a free and fair electoral process, Justice Singh assured that the elections body, “regards the media as a key stakeholder in the election process.”

Representing the diplomatic corps, US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch pressed for the media to embrace fact-based reporting.  According to Ambassador Lynch, “well-informed citizens can better hold their political leaders responsible.”

On the first day of the training, presentations were made by GECOM’s Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield, its Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward and the body’s Legal Officer Excellence Dazzell. veteran journalist Dennis Chabrol and American author Michael Deibert also delivered presentations.

Sunday’s activities will encompass discussions surrounding media ethics during elections and defamation and political coverage among other topics.

The event was kickstarted through the collaboration of the GPA and AmCham, an organisation that works to foster commercial relations between Guyana and the USA.

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