While journalists faced an increasingly grim working environment in 2008, with global press freedom declining for a seventh straight year and deterioration occurring for the first time in every region, according to the media study “Freedom of the Press 2009” (released on May 1) Guyana has regained its status of free rating while Haiti saw significant improvement.
The 2008 report of Freedom House highlighted that “including the government-owned daily, the Chronicle, Guyana has six national newspapers all of which are allowed to operate freely.” However, Guyana declined from Free to Partly Free, after a government decision to withdraw advertisements from the Stabroek News — one of the country’s leading newspapers, apparently in response to critical reporting — as well as an armed attack on several reporters from another major paper.
Guyana’s constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and media are generally allowed to operate without interference. However, long-promised legislation to facilitate the distribution of private radio licenses has yet to be introduced, and a freedom of information bill is apparently unlikely to be passed into law. Independent media are able to express a variety of opinions and freely criticize the government. Nevertheless, attacks against media workers served to intimidate the press and promote self-censorship in 2007.
The “Freedom of the Press 2009” report shows a seventh straight year of decline in global media freedom, with twice as many losses than gains. Given an economic climate that is certain to further strain media sustainability and diversity in rich and poor countries alike, pressures on media freedom are increasingly threatening the considerable gains of the past quarter century.
For an interesting article on the trajectory of the Guyanese press, starting from the Courant van Essequebo en Demerary (1793) to the present, see http://www.stabroeknews.com/2008/guyana-review/09/03/media/
For full article on International Press Freedom Report, see http://baiganchoka.com/blog/2009/05/04/guyana-and-haiti-show-improvement-in-2009-international-press-freedom-report/#more-11681