I read a “Big Smith news” item (an expose) July 28 of an attempt last May to undermine the Editor in Chief of Guyana Chronicle. The public, the government, private media houses should be concerned at such behavior. This unprofessional act can happen at any media house, undermining staff work ethic. Action must be taken to stop such behavior. The petition comes across as an attempt to ruin the career of a professional. This is most unfortunate as it impacts on work performance and the professionalism of staff not only at that media but others as well.
Apparently, as per the report, two of the paper’s reporters/cum news editor and another from an online media house sought to undermine the editor in chief (EIC). Last May, a petition was prepared with falsities and reporters were asked to sign. Did reporters sign under pressure? At least one signature, it is reported, was forged. A senior government’s name was used without his authorisation; and he is quite upset about the entire episode (one wonders what else his name was used for without his permission). The petition was sent to the government and made available to the public. Then came the investigation by ‘Big Smith News’ that debunked the claims in the petition and skullduggery used in its preparation and dissemination. All and all, it was an attempt to undermine the editor in chief with the hope of forcing him out. The claims were far-fetched, according to officials and reporters I engaged on the matter. One should be truthful and not be coy or engage in dishonest concealment devices in the preparation of the statement on the petition.
Clearly, it was mischief at work. The move or petition is of grave concern to any media house. It means one can prepare a petition ‘willy nilly’ against anyone manger or editor? In so doing, it endangers the viability of the media house. Fortunately, it has not happened in other media and I applaud professionalism elsewhere.
The motive behind the petition is not clear from the report. Was jealousy at work? Did someone want the position and organise the petition with the hope of replacing the editor in chief? The petitioners should focus on their work rather than on the EIC.
An Editor in Chief, any editor’s task, is not an easy one. I served as editor in chief of several community publications and managing editor of my job’s publication in New York. It was extremely hard work with no thanks for doing the job. The roles of editor or EIC or managing editor or editor in chief vary but it is usually multi-dimensional and multi-tasking including proof-reading and oversight to guard against libel or soul language in addition to content and style and meaning. The issue of effectiveness of an editor or managing editor can’t only be determined by the quality (personality) of the person in the role. It’s also the structure and support given by the entire organisation around the person performing the role. The editor in turn must provide support and guidance to the reporters. That type of management style provides good media reporting and work camaraderie in the news organisation.
The action of the petitioners is not good for outstanding journalism or managing a media house. The complainants could easily have gone to the EIC and or manager to discuss their grievances. If that move failed, then the next move would have been the line minister or government. Why go to the government if you have a grievance bypassing management or seeking intermediary intervention? That is not how professionals behave and how an organisation works. The petitioners failed to take intermediary steps and as such undermined any grievance they may have had. It comes across more as sour grapes rather or personality conflict rather than a legitimate grievance. And a forged signature as well as using the name of a government official without consulting him undermined their complaint. They undermine their own credibility. It was more an unsubstantiated gossip than a legitimate petition worthy of consideration. This says a lot of the people behind it and the level of regard they have for the person they send it to. They should be held fully accountable for their action. In trying to undermine the editor-in-chief, they undermine the name of the place they work and sully the name of a senior most government official. One must not unjustifiably undermine a colleague.
I browsed through the state newspaper almost on a daily basis and read every line in some articles for decades. The state newspaper has come a long way from two years ago when it was used primarily for propaganda purposes libeling people in the process to defend the then undemocratic government. It used to publish a lot of untruths and attacks against people and organisations. Such types of reporting, commentaries, and editing have been absent over the last two years since it got a new editor in chief in August 2020. I commend the management of the paper and its editing. The EIC and GM get the job done.
Many of the paper’s editorials are outstanding. The editor in chief is deserving of praise for the professionalism and balance on display in his role. He is a fine editor with many years of experience and comes across as a professional. Management, the public, other media colleagues, and the government must support him and reprimand those who brings the org into disrepute. It is hard work to edit a state media house. I don’t envy him or any other EIC. I won’t like to be in his shoes having to work with others who seek to oust you rather than improve your ability.
I salute the hard work of management, editor in chief, reporters and those who seek to boost the standing of all newspapers.