Newsroom mayhem

Dr. Sheila Rampersad (right) and Anika Gumbs-Sandiford leaving Guardian offices today.
Dr. Sheila Rampersad (right) and Anika Gumbs-Sandiford leaving Guardian offices today.

PORT OF SPAIN — Turmoil in the Guardian newsroom which began on Monday solidified yesterday when three senior members quit.

Guardian Public Affairs editor Dr Sheila Rampersad and its two key investigative reporters, Anika Gumbs-Sandiford and Denyse Renne, resigned following what has been described by Rampersad as the virtual sidelining of its editor-in-chief, Judy Raymond.

The apparent stripping of Raymond’s authority, according to Rampersad, involved her retaining the position of editor- in-chief but performing none of the functions of the job. “Our understanding was that this was an alternative to

Judy Raymond either being suspended or fired,” Rampersad said.

The Express was also informed that David Inglefield has been relieved of his position as ANSA McAL’s Media Sector head but has retained his position on the board.

Raymond refused to comment but sources close to her said she would make a decision about her future at the company by the end of the week.

“Judy thinks it is unfair to leave people in the newsroom hanging on,” the source said.

“It would be difficult to see how it would be possible for her to stay on. It would have to take a major turnaround in the position of the ANSA McAL board,” the source close to Raymond stated.

The source said Raymond went to work yesterday because she felt that she needed to offer “moral support”. It is understood that the newsroom was still in shock.

The source said there have been complaints about some stories. For example, last Thursday, there were complaints about a couple of front-page stories which were deemed to be anti-Government.

“We could not see what they were talking about, and we pointed out that they (the stories) were just statements of fact,” the sources said.

Then the source said on Sunday, the editor-in-chief was informed that the paper should not run any story criticising anyone unless the journalist had verified all the facts in the story with the person (criticised) first.

“If that were the case, there would be stories, for example, by-election stories, being carried three days or more after (the statements are made),” the source said.

“They just seemed to be making up new rules as they went along. And all this stems from a lack of respect for journalists. Our newsroom has some of the most senior people in the business, “ the source added.

Speaking with the Express, Rampersad said the three left because there had been an accumulation of external pressure on the editorial processes and the editorial product in the newsroom. She said that pressure, which accumulated over months, came to a head somewhere between Sunday and yesterday.

“After a very harrowing Monday and Tuesday, we took a decision that by today, the conditions under which we were being asked to operate were unsustainable and that even an elemental journalist would find it unacceptable. So we decided we were not going to work under those conditions,” she said.

Rampersad added, “It is our expectation that there would be resignations to follow.” (Express)

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