Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stella Says…The Chronicle’s letter pages are not fun anymore

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 26 September 2007)

I just cannot take it anymore. I have tried to be a good girl and hold my tongue, but the letter pages over at the Chronicle have become so outrageous that I just have to say something.

It used to be that I would hop over to the Chronicle’s letter pages for some comic relief during my busy day. I would get a laugh or two for the day and no harm was done since it would be incredulous for anyone in a right state of mind to take the letters printed in the Chronicle seriously.

It use to be that when a person read the letters over at the Chronicle that it was guessing game, which was part of the fun. It was necessary to guess who was the propaganda pusher, who was working in the PPP government and who was merely a PPP supporter. There are barely any other letters ever printed. The mystery was part of the game we all played and it was entertaining.

However, the tone emanating from the letter pages lately makes it far more apparent that it is almost entirely propaganda now and those writing the propaganda have been doing it for so long that they no longer feel the need to make it appear as if an actual person wrote the letter. This takes all the fun out of our little charade.

Although I have always held to the notion that it is bad form to talk about the material put out from another local newspaper in a less than flattering light, I am writing this column without any pains to my conscience since it is obvious that the Chronicle does not hold to this professional sensibility, which is apparent by the way it is so star struck by one of the columnists from Kaieteur News.

Some days their entire letter section is about nothing but Freddie Kissoon. Letter after letter, Freddie Kissoon this and Freddie Kissoon that. I think it is so nice of the section editor to have so much to say about our Sweet and Sensitive Freddie. Although some days it makes me scratch my head in wonder at how one newspaper gives so much publicity to its competition.

On the other hand, I do think the incessant self-congratulatory letters are understandable to some degree from the government paper because nary a soul outside of their own propaganda machine has even a couple nice words to toss the PPP’s way. So I have never held it against the Chronicle for applauding itself on a job supposedly well done (even if it is a bit narcissistic).

The newest trend in the Chronicle’s letter pages is the “Give Jagdeo a third term” campaign. At first I got my usual laugh because on one day a government minister tells us that it is just nonsense to think Jagdeo is contemplating a third term. In other words, the government wanted everyone to just drop the subject.

Yet the very next day there were two or three letters in the Chronicle about how great it would be if Jagdeo decided to run for another term. Even worse, the “Jagdeo for a third term” letters have been in almost every Chronicle issued since we were told the rumours were not true. Hmm, how very interesting.

The other new development has been the very negative letters about the PNC. Mind you, I have nothing against writing negative things about the PNC. This party is embarrassing itself and its members more every day. However, the Chronicle has traditionally kept such letters on the light side. Not anymore.

Lately the “letter writers” are going for the PNC’s throat. This too is another very interesting development. If we put all of this together – we have lots of letters about another paper’s columnist, lots of letters supporting Jagdeo for another term and lots of letters sucking what little life is left in the PNC.

Tsk-tsk. The Chronicle is simply losing its playfulness – which is a real bummer for the rest of us. I have never taken those letters seriously, but at least I had fun reading them. Now all the fun is gone too. There is no mystery. No games. No fun. The romance is spent. Sigh.

I never thought I would say this, but I truly miss the days when Robert Persaud, MBA was in charge of GINA. The letter pages were so much fun back then. Today’s letters are so overtly propaganda that there is no reason to read between the lines anymore.

It is just too bad since I enjoyed our playful relationship. I do wish we could find our way back to those fun days again, but I am not going to hold out hope. I suppose I will have to find another way to amuse myself.

Email: StellaSays[at]

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