New Start for Bahamas Press Club

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AGAIN? Yinner think they ga invite BP into their group? Just kidding! They are the fourth and we are the fifth ESTATE!

Members of the Executive team of the Bahamas Press Club 2014. Pictured from left are Kendeno Knowles, public relations officer; Julian Reid, education officer; Marguerite Guillaume, ethics committee chair; Anthony Newbold, president; Lindsay Thompson, secretary; Anthony Capron, second vice president and Vincent Vaughan, treasurer. Executives not pictured are Shenique Miller, assistant secretary; Carla Palmer, assistant treasurer; and Clint Watson, chaplain.

Nassau, Bahamas – The following is a statement by the newly formed, Bahamas Press Club:

Although this concept may be new to some, it is not a novel idea. Over the many years in recent memory, dating back to the early 1970s, there have been numerous tries at establishing an association of the press corps in The Bahamas. The most successful of which began in 1996.

We have not been alone in wanting to create such an organization for ourselves. In Britain, the Birmingham Press Club established in 1865, has survived for 149 years and is the oldest organisation of its kind in the world. In the United States the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. was established in 1908 and has been addressed by every U.S. President since Theodore Roosevelt and has also played host to many leading world figures.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you are aware, I’m sure, in practically all professions everywhere in the world, there is a body that oversees and looks out for the best interest of the practitioners of the profession.

For example right here in The Bahamas: The legal profession has the Bar Association and the Bar Council, the doctors have the Bahamas Medical Association, the accountants have their associations and so do the engineers, the architects, etc.

Today, we are off to another start at establishing a press club, which will only be sustained if everyone here and those to come, put their best efforts forward. Some may ask why a press club? what’s the reason for it?

These are valid questions.

I will say up front, that the Bahamas Press Club is not a union in the sense that it will broker deals with employers and negotiate for employees’ salary increases and benefits. That is not the purpose of the press club.

The purpose of the club, to borrow from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., is to encourage friendly intercourse among news practitioners and everyone with whom they have contact in the pursuit of the profession, to promote the interests of those employed in the media, to ensure public access to information and to guarantee as much as possible the accuracy of that information and to cultivate literary tastes.

We will endeavor to promote and uphold the highest ideals and standards of journalism, while providing for the exchange of ideas and experiences and the offering of professional development opportunities.

We are fortunate, not to have to start from scratch. Founding president Darold Miller and his team, of which I was privileged to be treasurer, laid the foundation. His successor, news photographer Miss Margaret Guillaume took the foundation to belt course during her tour of duty. Miss Guillaume’s tenacity and commitment to the highest standards of journalism helped to further cement the vibrancy, respect and integrity so necessary to an organization such as ours.

Miss Guillaume continues to play a very active and important role in the affairs of the Press Club.

While he was not president, it is important to acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Steve McKinney whose idea it was to form a press club in 1996 and who used his best efforts and resources to ensure that the club became a reality. Mr. McKinney, who is now a member, has also pledged his support for this effort. Ed Bethel also served for one term as president.

Under president Guillaume and her team, a scholarship in Journalism was given to the College of The Bahamas in memory of Dorothy Panza-Robinson, the first female to anchor news at ZNS Channel 13 back in the 1970’s. Mrs. Panza-Robinson’s husband in a show of gratitude for the gesture gave a donation of $500 to the Press Club, who, in observation of our code of ethics, gave the money to the scholarship fund, bringing the total to $1,400. The seed money was obtained from a dinner sale.

Our list of speakers included some of the who’s who in our community, such as the late Sir Lynden Pindling, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, chief clerk of the House, Maurice Tynes and then Mr. Fred Mitchell, himself a former journalist.

Advocating for our members, occasioned the club speaking to directives issued by a news director, which was eventually satisfactorily addressed by the then government in the House of Assembly.

As a body, members signed the condolence book at Government House on the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

The club was dormant until August this year.

As the new president of the Bahamas Press Club 2014, I’d like to share some of our goals for the coming year, which include requesting an accredited national press pass from the Commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police, for those involved in the dissemination of the news; to become affiliated with the National Press Club in Washington, D.C; to establish a code of ethics for those involved in the media; to establish a solid membership base which will include members from the Family Islands.

To this end election of officers was held on August 28, 2014, with the following persons being elected to the executive leadership:

· Anthony Newbold, president;

· Anthony Capron, second vice president;

· Lindsay Thompson, Secretary;

· Shenique Miller, asst. secretary;

· Vincent Vaughan, treasurer;

· Carla Palmer, asst. treasurer;

· Kendeno Knowles, public relations officer; and,

· Julian Reid, education officer.

Clint Watson was appointed as the club’s chaplain.

A constitution for the Press Club 2014 was subsequently ratified at our first monthly meeting last Sunday, September 7th.

On another note, we in the Bahamas Press Club 2014 are aghast at the violence being perpetrated against journalists, especially in the war zones of the world. Just recently, two free lance American journalists – James Foley and Steven Sotloff — were executed by the terrorist group Isis in Syria.

While we extend condolences to the families of the executed men, we are also concerned for the safety of the estimated 20 other journalists that are reported to be missing in the country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Which brings us to one of our own, Bahamas Information Services Deputy Director LaTore Mackey, who was allegedly murdered on August 25. As this is now a case in the courts we will not comment further except to offer sincere condolences to his bereaved family with the hope that justice will be served.

We look forward to a very exciting future of positive interaction between the Press Club and the people of The Bahamas.