LONG-STANDING journalist and anchor of Prime News Nazima Raghubir was on Sunday elected President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA), replacing Neil Marks.
The elections, which had been cancelled last month due to poor attendance, were held at the National Racquet Centre, Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.
Raghubir, who previously served as one of the association’s executive members, was the lone nominee for the most senior position.
She brings to the post a wealth of experience, having served the media fraternity in Guyana for almost two decades. She is also an executive member of the Association of Caribbean Media workers.
Raghubir’s team comprises Zoisa Fraser of Stabroek News, who was voted in as vice-president; Fareeza Haniff of News Room as treasurer; and Royden James of Nightly News as secretary.
The new executive members are Denis Chabrol (Demerara Waves) and Rawle Toney, Svetlana Abrams, and Ariana Gordon of the Guyana Chronicle. The only positions contested were those of secretary and executive members.
Immediate past president, Marks, had endorsed Raghubir’s candidacy, which went unchallenged, citing her commitment to journalism in Guyana over the years.
During brief remarks, he went on to acknowledge the efforts of the other members.
“During my term as president, I have been fortunate to work with an executive that has supported many projects to improve the practice of journalism in Guyana, and for that I am tremendously grateful,” Marks said.
Of recent, the association has been able to organise several workshops, spanning multiple sectors, and reintroduce the highly anticipated GPA media awards.
However, Marks said that one of the main goals he was unable to achieve during his tenure was the establishment of a secretariat to manage the GPA’s affairs.
He also urged the new executives to make this a reality.
Marks noted too that the work of the media in Guyana remains critical for many reasons, especially because of an ever-changing tense political landscape and the challenges of policing the oil-and-gas sector.
As such, he urged media practitioners to always 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 urged.
Raghubir used the opportunity after being elected to acknowledge the work of previous executives, who have brought the association to where it is today.
She said that foremost on her agenda is bringing back the level of respect journalism ought to have in Guyana.
“We ought to work as an association to bring back respect to journalism. Over the years, journalism has been on the receiving end of disrespect,” the new president said, adding that people who are the first to critique the work of journalists are the last to acknowledge the efforts made on a daily basis.
She said focus will also be placed on professionalising the media fraternity. To achieve this, Raghubir shared that proposals will be made for training of high school graduates who enter the media.
High on her agenda too, is constitutional reform aimed at broadening membership of the GPA and increasing fees.
“There are several things we need to address, including broadening membership and sustaining the association financially,” she said, adding that the current monthly fee of $200 cannot move the association in the direction it ought to go.
To address these issues and other matters of concern, Raghubir said efforts will be made to have a general members’ meeting within the coming months.
Meanwhile, executive member Denis Chabrol underscored the importance of the GPA engaging publishers on increasing advertising competition with the granting of several radio licences recently.
He also urged journalists to remain committed to pursuing the truth at all times and not to allow partisan interests to influence their work.
Other comments and concerns were raised by members, including former presidents Gordon Moseley and Julia Johnson.