Sunday, November 2, 2008


Here is the Media Association's release on the passing of veteran Guyanese newspaper founder and editor, David de Caires.

"The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago joins the region and people of Guyana in mourning the passing of David de Caires.

"Mr de Caires, founder of Guyana’s Stabroek News, passed away on Friday night in Barbados, aged 70.

"Mr de Caires, who was also Editor-in-Chief of the paper, is hailed as championing press freedom and the right of the people to have a voice in a climate that did not foster or encourage independent thought.

"In 1986, he and his wife Doreen, began publishing the Stabroek News, making it the first privately owned media house in Guyana since the 1970s, when the political and economic climate had forced the closure of all its predecessors.

"In its early days, the content of the entire Stabroek News had to be flown to Trinidad for printing weekly at the Trinidad Express, and the entire print run then flown back to Guyana for distribution. Given his connections at the Express, whose Chairman, Ken Gordon, was a friend and supporter, the paper overcame this obstacle. De Caires and the Stabroek News also found friends at the Barbados Nation and the Jamaica Gleaner.

"Thanks to Mr de Caires, his newspaper survived in the face of continuing challenges to media freedom by the Guyanese political establishment, including a government decision in 2006 to withdraw state advertising from the paper. Mr de Caires led the campaign for the return of the advertising and was deeply aggrieved that a democratic state which had signed the Declaration of Chapultepec on press freedom could so violate it.

"Earlier in his career he edited the groundbreaking New World Quarterly.

"Mr de Caires is remembered as a legend by those who knew him and as a man of unwavering commitment to the highest ethics and standards of journalism.

"He was also, even before the advent of the internet, an early supporter of interactive media, counting extensive feedback and comment from readers an integral and essential part of his newspaper.

"He wrote recently of the profession he adopted after giving up a lucrative career in law:
"“Newspapers must deal forthrightly with all the main issues in the society. There will be pressures from politicians in and out of government, businessmen, advertisers and other interest groups. There can be no compromise: you only have to lose your journalistic soul once…the worst sin for any newspaper is to play safe, to duck the tough issues.”

"At the same time, Mr de Caires remained not only an exemplar but also an affable and approachable employer, colleague and friend, not only to his own staff but also to the journalists and other media workers around the region who came to know and admire him.

"While he has passed on, MATT hopes that the values he embodied continue to live on in every media practitioner, not just here in Trinidad and Tobago but throughout the region."

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