The Guyana Review news magazine celebrated its 20th anniversary in February 2013 and, in so doing, set a record for longevity in the local periodicals industry.
The Guyana Review, published since 2007 as part of the Stabroek News newspaper by Guyana Publications Inc., has survived the vagaries of an unpredictable advertising environment since 1993. It has endured a market that lacks both the size and means to guarantee meaningful circulation to vindicate the conviction of its publishers that there is, after all, a place for a high-quality news magazine in Guyana.
The history of Guyana news magazines has been one of bold starts and sudden stops. It has been one of modest efforts and glamorous publications, most of which have been unable to extend themselves beyond a handful of issues. The short life span of most of the Guyana Review’s predecessors has been due, in large measure, to an indifferent market and a chronic failure to sustain advertising support and public subscription beyond the first few issues.
The Guyana Review’s birth in January 1993 marked a rare attempt by the local print media to shift from the accustomed newspaper style of the local press to a deeper, more analytical news reporting and analysis. It avoided the glitz and glamour that had customarily attended the birth of its ultimately less successful predecessors. The magazine, from its inception assumed an editorial posture that identified it as a ‘mainstream’ periodical focused on providing contemplative coverage of issues ranging from local politics to literary reviews.
The Guyana Review emerged at the time when a plethora of privately-owned media houses had surfaced under the changing media culture of the late 1980s. Its editorial posture, therefore, embraced the new-found media freedom that had spawned both the Stabroek News and a raft of television stations. During its formative years, its publishers cultivated writers of widely varying intellectual and political persuasions.Its contributors included professional journalists, university lecturers and, in some cases, partisan politicians.
The Review’s emergence created a professional niche that provided opportunities for analytical writing that were unavailable in the mainstream print media. The Guyana Review has become a source of academic research, valued by researchers particularly for its comprehensive coverage of domestic political and foreign policy issues.
Interest in the Review’s dispassionate reporting style made it attractive to diplomatic missions and international organisations keen to secure an objective perspective on local issues. The Review’s circulation in America, Europe and the Caribbean, thrived primarily in the Guyanese diaspora which welcomed the thoroughness with which the monthly magazine added flesh to the bare bones of the day-to-day newspaper reporting on critical social, economic and political issues.
The Review,in the process of what has been a ground-breaking attempt to integrate the news magazine into the mass media family in Guyana, secured national acceptance without really becoming a mass circulation periodical. Its real success has been the respect it earned among readers as a journal that is far more preoccupied with objectivity in its reporting than with pandering to any partisan shade of political opinion or with taking sides in what is, more often than not, a hostile political battleground.
Twenty years more than qualify the Guyana Review as a landmark publication in the history of the print media in Guyana.