The Daily Gleaner
On Wednesday, January 17th at the first regular Press Briefing to be held by the newly appointed Selected Members of the Electoral Advisory Committee, I was asked if we were aware of the draft National Registration Legislation. The essence of my answer was that we were aware of the Draft Legislation. The matter had been discussed in the EAC. We had great reservations about some aspects of the Legislation. We had asked Mrs Dorothy Pine-McLarty to draft the EAC’s response. Our response would be presented to the Minister. Further, we would seek opportunity from the Clerk of the Parliament to appear at the Bar of the House to present our views.
In the Daily Gleaner of Thursday, January 18th in a news-item tilted “EAC To Be Phased Out” your reporter states the answer I gave with respect to the Draft Legislation very accurately but reported it in relation to the EAC being phased out. The matter of the EAC being phased out never arose in the Press Briefing. Neither has that statement of the Draft Legislation been specifically discussed in the EAC. No one in the newly constituted EAC had voiced any apprehension of the EAC being phased out.
The cannons of accuracy and fairness in news reporting demand that the question asked should be reported along with the answer given. The way in which the answer I gave was used in the front-page story “EAC to be Phased Out” represents substandard reporting unworthy of the journalistic tradition to the Gleaner. Such reporting by a senior journalist is almost inexcusable. What is even more grievous, and suggestive of a less generous interpretation, is that the report on my answer without the question that was asked was repeated in a Page 3 story on Friday, January 19th in which the Prime Minister denied that there was any plan to phase out the EAC.
I respectfully ask that you would use your good offices to ensure that whenever, in the future, my answer is reported, the question that was asked be reported as well. I hope also that this letter will be given the same prominence as the news item. Please find attached a videotape of the Press Briefing, with both the question asked and the answer given.
January 20, 2000.