IWD: Evening News’ Editor Devina Samaroo shares her journalistic journey

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By Lakhram Bhagirat

Devina Samaroo is without a doubt a household name when it comes to news reporting. Whether it is in front of the cameras of the Evening News on Channel 28 or behind the pen for Guyana Times, the multitalented young woman has been achieving great feats.

She has cemented her place among the most seasoned journalists in the land with her knack for keeping the nation accurately informed.

Samaroo now sits in the Editor’s chair at the Evening News – a role she never anticipated – and is moulding a new breed of journalists in the broadcast arena.

The St Stanislaus College alumni had no idea what she wanted to do in life after school. So one day she came across an internship vacancy at a local television station which was trying to establish a news team. The little exposure there sparked an interest in the field of journalism and she decided to apply to the more well-known agencies like Stabroek News, National Communications Network (NCN), and Guyana Times.

She was called in for an interview with Guyana Times and the rest is history.

“Guyana Times called me in for an interview – one which I thought I flopped because, it was perhaps my third job interview ever, and, in retrospect, I clearly was not prepared to answer certain questions they had asked. To my surprise, the company decided to take a chance on me – a young girl, fresh out of high school and with hardly any experience.

“Some six years later, here I am – still in the field of journalism – a pretty notable feat considering the strenuous and demanding nature of the job, and the fact that, throughout my time in the media, I have witnessed countless people come and go. And to be honest, many times I have asked myself, why am I not looking for a job with less working hours or one that isn’t this stressful. And, I don’t think I ever really figured out why,” she said.

For Samaroo, her time in the media has been an incredible journey, from the vast learning experiences and the numerous opportunities to meet new people, many of whom played a great part in shaping the person she is today. It is her belief that one of the greatest things in life is being able to meet new people and learning different perspectives on issues and life in general – it is how you can grow and develop as a person.

“I remember one of my first admirers in the media. He was one of the first persons I befriended in the media. I remember admiring his pace of work and his ability to critically think and ask questions at press conferences and I had set out to emulate that behaviour.

“I also observed how media veteran Denis Chabrol would quickly and accurately put together stories from an event, even while it was still ongoing and again, I too, tried to develop such skills. My editors throughout the years, Nigel Williams, Michael Younge, Tusika Martin, Fareeza Haniff, and Neil Marks; I have learned so much from them, not just career-wise,” Samaroo noted.

Being in the media is not as glamorous as many people think. It demands long hours, hard work, and complete dedication. It is something that Samaroo realised over time. As a young reporter, she was completely mesmerised by the field of work and just wanted to do more and learn as much as she possibly could have in the shortest time.

In her early days, she would clock in very early and work late into the night almost every day. This, as one would expect, resulted in a burnout. She realised that she needed to find the right balance between work, family and leisure. She found it hard to find that balance but now she is in a place where there is some semblance of normalcy.

Like every career field, there are going to be challenges. When asked about what were some challenges she would have experienced, Samaroo said “There are many other challenges, from a day-to-day or case-by-case basis which are perhaps more administrative or on a micro-level. For example, trying all day to get an official for a story and not being able to, and then your story just has to be shelved, or worse, published as is.

One of the main challenges was being a woman in the media. Having contacts and rapport with people in high offices is no doubt beneficial to media workers. It allows faster access to them for information and sometimes, you get inside scoops and so on. Many persons who hold these offices are men and I have had many encounters where I experienced some form of sexual harassment from them. And in talking with my male colleagues in the media, they have never had those troubles in establishing working relationships with these senior officials.

I recall one time where I had approached a parliamentarian on the corridors of the Parliament Building to ask a question, and the honourable member, instead of answering the question, made a remark about wanting us to “go somewhere and do we thing and nobody have to know” and then I can get all the information I want. But I could not have been fazed by that remark, I just had to ignore it and move on – as I did in several other encounters of a similar nature. As I got older, more mature, more informed, and bolder, I developed the ability basically, to tell these senior officials off, diplomatically, whenever I find they are crossing the line. There are other challenges, though, too many to list.”

Samaroo has written countless pieces across all “beats”. For her, it is hard to pinpoint a particularly memorable piece she has written.

“Perhaps each piece is memorable in its own way. Writing about and covering politics has led to a greater appreciation and understanding of the management of a country and it is an experience/opportunity that I will always cherish. I have had many fun moments in being able to travel the country and meet new people. And then, I have had some really heartbreaking, soul-crushing moments when covering stories such as fatal accidents, murders, fires and the 2020 elections.”

For now, she aims to take better care of her mental health and make sure the balance between work and leisure remains ever-present.