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Media workers walk out of GDF officers conference

Media workers walking out of Base Camp Ayanganna.

Media workers Thursday morning walked out of the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) annual officers’ conference in protest over disrespect and discourtesy meted out to them.

Led by Guyana Press Association (GPA) Vice President, Zoisa Fraser and executive member, Denis Chabrol, the 19 media workers left and bluntly refused efforts to encourage them to return to the Officers’ Mess to cover only President Granger’s address.

For the second straight year, the media are invited to the opening session but on arrival they are ordered to enter a room where they are seated although the opening ceremony is in session.

While in session, media workers were made to walk from Thomas Road entrance to the Officers’ Mess located near Thomas Road.

Media workers in a room before they were escorted to the GDF Officers’ Mess while the annual officers conference had already begun.

On Thursday, the almost 20 media workers were placed in a small congested room.  Public Affairs officials moments later escorted the media personnel to the Officers Mess where the Chief of Staff, Brigadier Patrick West was addressing the opening session to President David Granger and other top government officials and army officers.

On arrival, no seating accomodation was provided and media workers were expected to stand and cameramen set up their equipment.

Chabrol vociferously and bluntly refused to entertain any discussions with officers of the GDF Public Affairs section, saying they were being treated with disrespect for the second straight year.

GPA Vice President, Zoisa Fraser talking with Colonel Michael Shahoud.

Head of the Public Affairs Unit, Colonel Michael Shahoud told media workers, including Fraser, that the arrangements for the opening session have changed because the Chief of Staff now makes a presentation containing sensitive information to the President and other invitees and participants.

However, media workers said the government’s Department of Public Information personnel was allowed entry to the Officers’ Mess well in advance of other media personnel. They rejected Shahoud’s encouragement for them to return to cover President Granger’s address.

Shahoud has in the past been told about poor arrangements for media personnel to access high quality audio. Media houses’ microphones and recorders have been banned from the podiums of events to which the media are invited.