Suspension of editor and removal of pregnant anchor at NCN spark protest
The suspension of an Editor, Jocelle Archibald-Hawke from the Newsroom of the State-owned National Communications Network (NCN) and the removal of well-known anchor, Natasha Smith from reading the 6 ‘O’ Clock News; both of which have become topical issues on Social Media in recent weeks, has sparked a protest today.
Journalists from various media outlets, executives of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) and human rights activists, stood in front of the entity to condemn the actions, which were allegedly incited by the recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of NCN.
Sports Editor, Jocelle Archibald-Hawke was suspended for one month without pay, following a status she posted on her personal facebook page comically criticizing another staff/producer at NCN for a question he asked the President regarding the Pokémon Go app game, during a recording of the Public Interest.
In a statement on Monday, the state-owned entity said Hawke was deserving of suspension, noting that “due process was followed in arriving at its decision. While the current issue is about disparaging comments made on social media about her colleague’s work and name calling, several other factors and incidents involving Mrs. Archibald-Hawk were considered.”
In relation to News anchor, Natasha Smith, she explained in a statement that she was told by senior management almost a month ago, on August 08, 2016 that she will no longer be presenting the News. It was told to her by the EIC, that the decision was made at a meeting of the Company’s Board members “because quite frankly the C.E.O did not like what he sees when he looks at the news.”
This, Smith said offended her in place of her unborn child, adding that cameramen were told to ensure that only close up shots of her are used.
Executive member of the GPA, Dennis Chabrol said the protest aims to have those actions reversed. He further stated that Hawke apologized for her statements and therefore that should be enough in absence of a social media policy by the company.
A representative from the Women and Gender Equality Commission noted that “it’s a violation of the constitution…this discrimination…that we have a CEO or a person in authority who wants to issue a policy that a woman must come off air because of her pregnancy or she must tighten up, is full disheartening and disconcerting…it’s an abomination and it should be condemned by all.”
In NCN’s statement, the CEO, Lennox Cornette sought to deny that Smith was removed from reading the news because of her pregnancy. The CEO said it is “unfortunate that the issues surrounding the employees have been misunderstood and misrepresented.”