The Board of the state-owned Guyana Chronicle yesterday fired the newspaper’s General Manager Michael Gordon and Editor Mark Ramotar with immediate effect citing weak management and poor circulation numbers.
“The Board of Directors has taken these two decisions with a view to strengthening both the administrative leadership and management and the editorial department as the newspaper seeks to rebrand and reposition itself as a credible national newspaper,” a statement from the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL) Board said. GNNL publishes the Guyana Chronicle and Sunday Chronicle.
Gordon, when contacted, told Stabroek News that his termination came as a surprise particularly since there have been improvements since he took up the post last May. He cited profits for the newspaper and improved working conditions for staff. Following the May 11 General and Regional elections, there were reports that the duo would have been fired because of their purported close affiliation with the former PPP/C government.
Ramotar declined to comment when contacted by Stabroek News.
The statement from the GNNL Board disclosed that at a meeting yesterday, a unanimous decision was taken to discontinue the services of both men with immediate effect.
It said that GNNL and the Chronicle newspapers have been suffering from weak management and circulation numbers have been steadily declining. “The Board of Directors is of the view that fresh and competent leadership is needed administratively and new editorial direction and support is required,” the statement said.
The Board thanked Gordon and Ramotar for their service and wished them the best in their future endeavours.
According to the statement, a decision with regards to the position of acting General Manager was to be announced later in the day following discussions. Up to press time last night, this information had not been released.
Godfrey Wray will serve as acting editor in support of Editor-in-Chief Nigel Williams and Sunday Editor Neil Marks.
Gordon told Stabroek News that after he took up the post, changes were evident. He said that GNNL has been making a profit over the last couple of months. The former GM said he has left GNNL with the staff more comfortable than when he took over even though the working conditions are still not the best. He said that he would rate the conditions there as wholly inadequate.
According to Gordon, it was out of concern for the working conditions that the staff had to endure, that sometime after there was a change in government, he presented a comprehensive proposal for a new building and how it could be funded to the Board and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
“I trust that the Board made the decision in its own wisdom and I respect it,” he told Stabroek News shortly after he had returned home after being given his termination letter. He said that he will pray for the success of GNNL and emphasised that he holds no acrimony against anyone for his termination of service. He added that it was not a decision that he was expecting.
According to Gordon, the profit record he saw at the newspaper over the last few months “to my mind, this caps a successful 27 year career in the media.”
As to what is next for him, Gordon said that for the first time in decades, he will be able to have a full night’s rest without having to worry about anything going wrong with an antenna in Berbice or in the newsroom. He said the plan now is to take one day at a time and to seek divine intervention on the way forward.
Though declining to comment on his firing, Ramotar said that his career at the Guyana Chronicle spanned 16 years. In 2008, he recalled, he was appointed to act as editor-in-chief.
After the APNU+AFC government came to power, he was demoted and Williams was appointed editor-in-chief.