Massive improvement: Guyana moves 17 places up Global Press Freedom Index

PRESS freedom across Guyana’s media fraternity has seen significant improvement, according to the Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 Global Press Freedom Index.

This information was disclosed by Secretary General of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Sonia Gill, on Wednesday, during day two of the National Conference and Symposium held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, in observance of World Press Freedom Day.

According to the index which targets 180 countries, Guyana’s has a current point ranking of 76.1, moving it from the 51st spot in 2020 to 34th in 2021.

The World Press Freedom Index is used to compare the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists and the media. The rankings are based on a score ranging from 0 to 100 that is assigned to each country or territory, with 100 being the best possible score (the highest possible level of press freedom) and 0 the worst.

Speaking directly about the working circumstances of Guyana’s media fraternity, the website stated, “Respected Guyanese journalists can generally work with complete freedom and independence. They are generally well accepted and protected. Guyana is a parliamentary democracy where freedom of expression and the right to information are guaranteed by the Constitution.”

It added: “Guyana enjoys a strong media landscape with a significant diversity of national and regional media.”

According to the RSF ranking system, countries that score between 100 to 85 points have a “good situation” as it pertains to press freedom, while countries ranking 85 to 70 have a “rather good situation.” Countries with 75 to 55 points have a “problematic situation,” those with 55 to 40 points have a difficult situation and those with 40 to 0 points have a “very serious situation”.

During the analysis, the scores are calculated based on the quantitative statement of the abuses committed against media professionals in the exercise of their functions, and a qualitative analysis of the situation in each country, measured through the responses of press freedom specialists to a questionnaire offered by RSF.

During a panel discussion on Wednesday, Guyana Press Association (GPA) Executive Member, Denis Chabrol, expressed belief that the present collaboration among media workers and the government is one of the major reasons behind Guyana’s improved status on the World Press Freedom Index.

He noted that over the past few years, there has been a clear and easily accessible channel to get information from ministers and other government officials.

According to Chabrol, this type of open communication has allowed for improved information sharing and has significantly boosted both the productivity and effectiveness of the local media fraternity.
Chabrol who has decades of broadcasting and journalism experience under his belt, currently operates a private online news entity.

He stated that he believes that another reason the country has managed to improve its ranking is the “free” media atmosphere. He noted that local media companies are allowed the freedom to express their views on topical issues without fear of being shut down and silenced.

He noted that while Guyana continues to experience high press freedom levels, the achievement would not have been possible without the commitment of the local media women and men who worked tirelessly to ensure accurate, ethical, and timely information is disseminated against across the country.

Chabrol opined that even with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, media workers in Guyana have gone above and beyond to ensure that information is disseminated across the country.

Meanwhile, Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister with Responsibility for Public Information, Kwame McCoy, commended the efforts of media personnel who continue to advocate for and practice responsible journalism.

He used the occasion to emphasise that this profession is one of the pillars of strength on which any nation will stand.

Minister McCoy added that emphasis must be placed on the responsibility of the journalist and how they produce, fact check, and report their stories. He noted that there have been many changes in the local media within the last few years, with budding and upcoming media persons playing an active role in promoting responsible journalism.

Former general manager of Freedom Radio, Raymon Cummings, who was also a part of Wednesday’s panel discussion, echoed similar sentiments, while reminding media personnel to get the scoop but remain ethical. Cummings who is also the former chairman of the National Communications Network (NCN) Board, reminded them that while there are stories that need to be told, it is important that those stories are told in a fair and balanced way.


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