By Steven Vickerie
“Reporting for Prime News, Nazima Ragubhir.” If you’ve heard that tagline before, you’re old enough to know that the name speaks for itself. Nazima holds the distinction of being one of the most fearless trailblazers of investigative journalism. She is also a formidable advocate for media empowerment throughout the Caribbean.
Nazima, who is also the current President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA), is an example to many in the profession; especially young journalists who oftentimes emulate her drive to ask tough questions on matters that are of national importance.
But the life of a journalist is not what Nazima had in mind for herself in the beginning. In fact, even as an excellent student of the Tutorial High School, there was still no plan as to what career path she would take.
IT WAS NEVER THE PLAN
Nazima told Guyana Standard that after sitting A Levels, her career path had been undecided, especially since she juggled with the idea of either furthering her education, or gaining meaningful work experience that would eventually be vital for the job market.
“I met a young woman who asked me what I wanted to do now that school was finished. I remember telling her that I had no clue, but whatever it was, I don’t want to be confined to four walls, I wanted to be able to go out there and meet people and then she suggested I send an application to Prime News,” Nazima said.
She told this news entity that she then took her application to Prime News where she met Veteran Journalist Adam Harris. She reflected that while Mr. Harris appeared to be nonchalant, she was still given an opportunity to work with the team, which included the late Mondale Smith.
Nazima said exposure to the media changed her life. She reflected that the Prime News team became a family; a family in which she learned certain values and virtues, all of which guide her onto this day.
“It was not just about me being taught the importance of news gathering. I was also made privy of the vultures that existed. I was taught not to accept bribes or favours because those things eventually tarnish your reputation. In this business, respect and reputation are important so I learned to value those virtues, ” the highly revered GPA President said.
UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS IN HISTORY
Guyana’s history has been no doubt marked by a number of turbulent yet interesting times. From administration changes, to a dark period where many persons were killed by still unexplainable circumstances, Nazima had either covered or witnessed these events as journalist.
In her 21 years of experience, Nazima reflected that the crime spree of 2001 to 2005, was a very frightening period for most Guyanese and herself. She recounted that journalists back then were on the ball, especially since information was not readily accessible as it is now with the help of social media.
She noted that while the media was more progressive back then, some journalists witnessed some of the most gut-wrenching incidents in Guyana’s history. She alluded to the Yohance Douglas murder and journalists who witnessed police officers picking up spent shells from the scene.
She further stated that another unforgettable moment was the production of the popular “How Many More Jah” video compilation which consisted of several videos showing the emotionally distraught families who lost loved ones in the blood and gore of the crime spree period. The production done by video editors of the then Prime News and quickly became a memory etched in the minds of all Guyanese.
But apart from these notable moments in history, Nazima always remembers the story of a young girl who was electrocuted under a house. “When you’re the anchor, most times you’re not privy to what’s in the news until you sit on the set. I remember reading the headline and then watching the news package. Her father was the one who spoke to Prime News and he said that all he had was $100. He contemplated whether to send her to school with the $100 or go to work. He then said that he regretted not giving her the $100 because she would have been alive. After that story aired it felt like I was hit in the gut. It not only spoke to the tragedy of this man but also the poverty many people face and the tough decisions they have (to endure) even in this time,” Nazima said.
NOT QUITE DEAD YET
While media affords many young operatives the opportunity to become a public figure, there is also the possibility of being placed under a microscope. One of the tenets of journalism states that you must be unbiased; a seeker of the truth.
Over the years according to Nazima, the landscape of the media has changed with more and more seasoned journalists departing the fraternity, making way for a new dispensation of journalists, some whom have new customs for what is considered journalism.
Nazima acknowledges that serious journalism is rarely practiced these days, while highlighting that there is hope left for the media. She said there needs to be a more stringent approach to news gathering; especially investigative journalism. She encouraged young and current media operatives to do research and become more aware of sectors in an effort to make an impact
“We have politicians and the government taking over our news cycles. Most stories are based now on politics, rather than us going to reach the masses and really highlighting how even the high cost of living is affecting our Guyanese. I see one media house after the firm questions about oil and gas sector but we need more people to find out what’s going on in other sectors,” Nazima posited.
The GPA President also reiterated the viewpoint that there has also been a blatant disregard for the media by the current administration. She highlighted that since taking office, the administration has been making big decisions at the level of Cabinet without the scrutiny of the public or the media fraternity.
“It is sad that we are still asking for a staging of a post cabinet press briefing. It has been years, and despite countless letters and requests being sent, it seems that it has fallen on deaf ears. Then we have politicians picking and choosing who they speak to for an interview, or the media can only ask questions on the sidelines of events.”
The advocate for transparency and accountability is of the firm conviction that the media ought to have greater access to the government officials.
As she continues her outstanding career, Guyana Standard has no doubt that she will remain a true champion in her field and a celebrated role model for future operatives to follow.