By Bibi Khatoon
A new executive of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) was elected on Sunday, January 07, 2018 as the body hosted its biennial elections.
The elections were hosted at the National Racquet Centre on Woolford Avenue, Georgetown, where members of the media fraternity elected their first female president, Journalist and news presenter at Prime News, Nazima Raghubir. She was unchallenged.
Also unchallenged were the nominees for Vice President, Zoisa Fraser, a Journalist at Stabroek News and Treasurer, Fareeza Haniff, who is the Editor-in-Chief at the News Room.
HGPTV’s Royden James was elected to the post of Assistant Secretary/Treasurer, copping more votes than News Room’s Devina Samaroo.
Members elected to the executive are DemeraraWaves’ Dennis Chabrol and Svetlanda Marshall-Abrams, Ariana Gordon and Sport journalist, Rawle Toney – all of the Guyana Chronicle.
Outgoing President of the GPA, Neil Marks did not contest the elections. In his remarks, Marks thanked President David Granger and organizations which helped the GPA to conduct trainings and other events during his tenure.
Marks also urged the new executive to work towards establishing a Secretariat for the GPA, something which he regrets not being able to get done.
“I hope the new executive would pursue this vigorously, as it would serve as an effective way of managing our affairs,” he said.
He also alluded to the GPA’s annual dinner and awards ceremony, urging the new President to continue the initiative which encourages journalists to go to the extra mile for award winning stories.
Speaking about some of the body’s achievements, he said “I am thankful that we have been able to use our influence to mediate in workplace disputes to bring a fair settlement to grave issues” and improving the work of journalists who accepted the help among other things.
Marks also urged local journalists to police the oil and gas sector as they pursue the role as watchdog for transparency and accountability, especially in an ever-changing tense political landscape
“I urge you all not to let up – pursue the truth and report it fearlessly. I urge you my colleagues to clothe yourselves with independence, and to run far, very far from private and political interests. Be professional at all times,” he said.
Meanwhile, in her acceptance speech, the new GPA President, Raghubir noted that she will continue to push for training programmes for journalists and work towards bringing back respect to the fraternity.
“I want to challenge you to think about everything you do from now on as a journalist and how you portray yourself and you portray your media house. One of the critical things over the years we want to look at, is the professionalizing of the media and journalists in the country,” Raghubir said.
It is her aim also to have the constitution of the Press Association updated.
“There are many things which we need to address which includes broadening the membership of the association, including more of our members from all of the three counties, including members who are not seen as media workers because of the definitions in the constitution and also look at sustaining GPA more financially,” Raghubir pointed out.
In a post on her Facebook page, she also outlined a number of areas in which she will be approaching to strengthen the Association “based on collective action.”
She outlined her aim to strengthen relations with regional and international organisations interested in media development in Guyana and the press freedom issues, build ability to respond to crises and establish pathway for the communicating of concerns over the coverage of state institutions.