In light of allegations of verbal and mental abuse made by two former reporters of Kaieteur News, who took to social media on Wednesday to highlight what they described as a toxic work under publisher Glenn Lall, the Guyana Press Association (GPA) has been called upon to pronounce on or look into the matter.
But GPA President, Nazima Raghubir, has emphasised that the entity is just an association and an advocacy body, and not a union. However, she pointed out that the option is there for reporters in such situations to take private actions in the courts or take the matter to the Labour Ministry.
Reporters Kemol King and Mikaila Prince, who resigned from Kaieteur News earlier this year, made social media posts talking about their experience working at the publication.
They described the company as its own “toxic, abusive, manipulative monster” and as a “gruesome and dehumanizing working environment1” in separate posts on their social media accounts.
King wrote, “My mental health is still recovering from the Kaieteur News environment… If I decided to sit and write all the horrible things my friends and I had to deal with, it would take days. Glenn Lall may see himself as a god among men, but I will no longer allow him to abuse and disrespect me.”
He shared a screenshot of a WhatsApp text message sent to him purportedly by Lall, who called him a “low life”.
“I will not compromise my integrity, to prop up paper and ad sales at the expense of truth and accuracy. It almost broke me, having to sit in on that radio show, in complicit silence, while he told this country whatever was sensational enough, no matter how far removed it was from the truth,” King said of Lall, whose newspaper has been extensively reporting on Guyana’s oil and gas sector.
Meanwhile, Prince in her post stated that “I refuse to take disrespect from Glenn Lall any longer; I refuse to stay silent let him verbally abuse me without any repercussions. Today, I will show you all the monster that is Glenn Lall.”
Like her colleague King, both of whom are now employed at a state media entity, Prince said she too was called a “low life” by Lall and also shared screenshots of messages reportedly sent by the businessman.
Nevertheless, Raghubir, who herself is a veteran journalist in Guyana, told the this publication that she has been providing support to both Prince and King. She added that prior to leaving Kaieteur News, the two reporters had reached out to the Press Association, and support was provided to them.
According to the GPA President, this option is still available if they want to speak with a specialist for counselling. She said too that she also advised both King and Prince to reach out to a lawyer to pursue legal avenues in their allegations against their former employer.
Raghubir pointed out that it is difficult for the GPA to deal with industrial matters which are within the remit of the Ministry of Labour. She added that the remarks allegedly made by the publisher are indeed upsetting and not the type of action one would want to condone, especially from a publisher.
“However, we are not a union and we will continue to lobby for a free press and we will do so without fear, favour or intimidation that it is upsetting,” the GPA Head asserted.
Meanwhile, when contacted on Thursday, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton said there were no formal reports made to this ministry in relation to this issue so he cannot intervene. But the minister did note that he has been following the developments via social media.
He condemned Lall for breaking foundation rules of journalism and for his “reprehensible” actions against the two young reporters.
Nevertheless, Minister Hamilton said that if the matter does come to his office, then it will be dealt with.