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I have been deeply disheartened by a trend that seems to infect more of our journalists by the day. Our politics have always been hamstrung by sensational and tabloid media. But even by those low standards I was stunned to see the piece in Kaieteur News “The Oil Giveaway Graveyard” and its claim that “In excess of one hundred billion American dollars of our oil wealth were given away by PPP leaders, with the Coalition and civil society silently consenting. THIS WAS ON THE CANJE OIL BLOCK ALONE.”
It is one thing to exaggerate a number or posit a hypothetical. But this number is transparently pulled from thin air. There has not been one discovery on the Canje Block. Exploration has barely even begun. No wells have been drilled. How could Kaieteur News and its anonymous reporters possibly know what it’s worth or what might have been “given away”?
No established government entity, international organisation, company or analyst has even attempted to put a specific value on such an unknowable quantity as an unexplored 6,000 square km stretch of ocean. The Stabroek Block has had 18 real, confirmed discoveries and still its full value may not be known for years.
Yet this journalist appears willing to fabricate a number in order to have a salacious opening line. And all for a two-paragraph story liberally salted with screaming capital letters and innuendos that do nothing to actually educate the reader. There has never been a more critical time in Guyana for real, solid, fact-based reporting. Guyana is on the cusp of massive change. Unimaginable wealth and corrosive corruption are both real possibilities. The wall between them is built from transparency, ethics and smart policies. None of those are possible without a responsible media. Guyanese should form their own opinions, but those opinions must be grounded in a shared universe of neutral, verifiable facts. Stories like this do the opposite. They substitute wild accusations for reasoned debate and sow division and distrust at the time when the truth is most critical.