This past December 1, NEWSCO Observer Radio and The Daily Observer celebrated our fourth anniversary. Yes, it was on that date in 2018, that much like a “phoenix rising from the ashes,” NEWSCO emerged from what many thought was an ignominious end, stronger, smarter and more powerful.
The forces arrayed against the Observer Media Group (OMG) at the time, the precursor to NEWSCO, had waged a vicious and unrelenting campaign to stymie free speech and a fair and open discussion of news and ideas. Those forces in high places saw OMG as an enemy and they drew their swords. They railed against us, they pulled their ads from us, they refused to pay for some of their advertising, they brought pressure to bear on businesses that chose to work with us, they demanded that we settle outstanding monies owed to the APUA and other creditors under their control, and so on and so forth. They cursed us. They maligned us. They uttered all manner of evil.
But we held our heads high. And fortunately for all of Antigua and Barbuda, our Founding Fathers (The Derricks) saw something special and exceptional in our Managing Director, Algernon ‘Serpent’ Watts, and our Station Manager, Dave Lester Payne, and they worked together in the twilight of OMG to ensure that the new media entity would not only survive, but thrive.
Meanwhile, in their small-mindedness, many of the government-aligned forces scoffed and chortled at our effort to get this infant NEWSCO media entity going. They cast wagers on how long it would last, if it ever got off the ground. But we persisted. We were determined that a free and independent media entity, an alternative voice to the monopoly held by the government and the current ruling family should not be the order of the day. OBSERVER was founded on that principle – that there had to be differing voices and ideas in Antigua and Barbuda, and the vision and dream of the Derricks persist today.
Of course, we would not be here, “shining a light in the dark corners,” and “giving a voice to the voiceless,” were it not for our many benefactors and investors, who were prepared to give generously of their treasury. We cannot forget Observer Day (A day of Antiguans and Barbudans stepping up to give generously to NEWSCO) as conceived and executed by Dame Eusalyn Lewis and a cadre of free-speech-loving Antiguans and Barbudans. We certainly are most grateful to her and her team. Neither can we forget the Barbudans who journeyed across the waters from the sister isle, with the widest assortment of dishes, to generate funds for NEWSCO. Again, our hearts are filled with gratitude. Seems, notwithstanding the vilest wishes of those in high places, Antiguans and Barbudans still love and embrace The Daily Observer and Observer Radio.
True, we have had some hiccups along the way, and that is to be expected. The media landscape is more crowded, and more cutthroat, than it has ever been, and the competition for listenership, readership and limited advertising dollars is fierce. But we endure. Antiguans and Barbudans know that they get value for their dollar with NEWSCO. Plus, we remain their trusted source for news and information.
On our fourth anniversary, we pledge to remain faithful to the motto on our newspaper’s masthead, LET THERE BE LIGHT! We will continue to follow the stories wherever they may lead. We will report the news “without fear or favour, and without worrying who feel one way or another,” as so eloquently articulated by the immortal Winston Derrick.
May God continue to bless NEWSCO, granting us many more successful years as the tribune of the people. Happy anniversary!
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