The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop—Why A Newspaper?


When Maurice Bishop was a barrister-at-law, he composed a position paper, dated 1970 in handwriting. The typed text could have been the basis for a speech. Certainly it must have been early after his return February 1970 from England to Grenada. Getting a handle in these early dates is a challenge. We know the Rat Island Black Power Conference was sometime in 1970 and Bishop was in attendance. In July 1970, a mimeographed newsheet called Forum was published. The transcription follows the original except for minor clean-ups and major breaking of paragraphs, maintaining sequence of text. Although rambling and repetitive nothing has been edited.

INTRODUCTION

No one can doubt the severe crisis in Grenadian society today. All sections of the population live in fear. There is a kind of social panic that pervades the entire society. Everyone is asking: What is going on? Where are we heading? What can be done? Who will do something?

Never before has there been such a total lack of any positive direction. The whole population feels this "directionlessness." The economy is in a total mess. The politics is completely corrupt and dictatorial. And the population emanates a feeling of hopelessness. There seems to be no alternative to the present. And to compound the situation the present crisis demands immediate action for the present regime is moving at a frantic pace to establish a Duvalier-type dictatorship. This is not an exaggerated guess. But a factually based statement. Events that are taking place in Grenada today do not only indicate a dictatorial tendency, but are in themselves the outward manifestation of a dictatorship.

What to do in this severe crisis? This document puts forward the view that a mass newspaper with an independent printery is the main concrete activity around which a new social movement can be built: an anti-coloniallll social movement with new approaches, new attitudes and a new positive direction to life the people out of the gutter of backwardness and material underdevelopment onto a higher level of consciousness and social living—a new and modern way of life. Thbe movement must be social and not just political. For a background [backward] underdeveloped society life Grenada needs a movement that embraces all aspects of life of the people. Backwardness is not simply political, but social. Politics must have a central place in the social movement, for without politics the movement would be nothing. So that the movement that is required in Grenada today is a social movement with a clear political direction. A popular newspaper and an independent modern printery are vital to the building of such a movement.

It should not be concluded from the above discussion that the only way to begin is by establishing a paper and printery. The political situation may demand, and it does, more urgent action. The way to being will depend on the concrete situation existing at the particular time. Whatever way a new social movement begins, a popular newspaper and a modern printery will remain a social necessity in the context of Grenada's society.

A popular newspaper and a moden printery are not the only things that can be, or should be, done, but they are central to whatever else is done. For an organization, a movement, a society, can only develop spiritually (in the inner human sense) and materially with a clear diection when there is ease of communications; when everyone can communicate with each other is a social manner. A newspaper provides that kind of communication. Undoubtedly, radio and television communication would be one hundred times more effective in the immediate sense, but all three—television, radio and newspaper—are necessary. In the present political situation the former two would be impossible to set up in the known way.

Finally, this document is written not simply for discussion, but as a basis for the establishment without delay of a popular newspaper and a modern printery in Grenada. To all those who are seriously concerned with the social situation in Grenada and who see the fast approaching disaster, the time to begin publication of a popular mass newspaper and an efficient modern printery is now.

WHY A PAPER?

A newspaper is a social necessity in any society, and more so in an underdeveloped society. The task it performs is fundamentally that of communication. The members of a society need to communicate with each other as social beings. By so doing they influence each other both in the realm of ideas and attitudes and in their concrete activity.

Today, there are several means of communication—forums, meetings, telephone, radio, television, newspapers etc. But the most powerful and influential means of communication are those that cen reach masses of people at one time and with a high degree of regularity and efficiency. The medium of the mass newspaper is one of these. It is perhaps the lease difficult to establish and it has been said that it has the most lasting and effective influence on people. for it communicates information and ideas to which people can refer long after publication.

The newspaper, as one of the mass media of communication, moulds public opinion by what it says and what it does not say. The social consciousness of a people; their attitudes, values and relationships; the varied things they do and the way they do these things are all greatly influenced by the mass newspaper. In many societies, both advanced and underdeveloped, it is the newspaper that mobilizes public opinion, a mobilization that sometimes result in social action of one sort or another, for or against a particular public issue or issues. It is therefore reasonable to say that a newspaper is essential to social development in any society.

In Grenada today a newspaper is an urgent social necessity.

So, now, why a newspaper in Grenada in particular and what must this newspaper seek to do?

There are three fundamental reasons:

  1. There is no newspaper in Grenada at present

    The existing papers are not newspapers. They can be better described as advertising sheets or empty propaganda leaflets. This view is confirmed by popular reponse to the West Indian, Vanguard and Torchlight.

    Investigations have shown that the circulation of the West Indian (January, 1970) is no more than 400 copies per issue. And the circulation of the Torchlight and Vanguard is not much better.

    For comparison, the Trinidad Express is bought by about 8% of the adult population of Trinidad, while the West Indian is bought by less than 1% of the adult population in Grenada. It is to be noted that the most popular newspaper in Grenada is the Trinidad Express; a newspaper that carries next-to-nothing on Grenada. And this paper, it is said, has a circulation of 1,500 copies per issue during the week, and over 2,000 copies on Sundays in Grenada.

    In the circumstances such a situation is understandable, for the so-called newspapers in Grenada contain little to nothing of interest to Grenadians. The choice, therefore, is between one newspaper that carries very little on Grenada and is neither informative nor educational, and another newspaper that carries very little on Grenada, but which is informative and eduational in the view of many Grenadians.

    A local newspaper that focuses attention on Grenada and the activities of Grenadians is an urgent social necessity.

  2. The political and social situation in Grenada roday demands a political newspaper even if there was a newspaper like the Trinidad Express.

    When a regime rules a country by fraud, force, suppression, threats, victimization and tomfoolery, that regime must be exposed to the whole population in all its nakedness and an alternative kind of governmental policy, programme and organization—a new governmental attitude—must be put forward. In the present circumstances, only a newspaper with a clear political direction and an organization behind it can do that.

    Further, when there are no signs of an organised political alternative to such a ruthless regime, only a political newspaper can consistently show an underdeveloped people the necessity for a new organised social movement, what kind of movement and how that movement can, must, begin in the particular social and political circumstances.

    In Grenada today the political situation demands a political newspaper with a clarity of direction and social sensitivity. A newspaper is the medium through which ideas can be imparted to the whole population ina popular manner, thus developing public awareness of the social conditions of the people that would lead to social action by the people themselves. In other words, a serious political newspaper unites the population in its political attitude.

  3. A newspaper is the key to the building of a popular democratic social movement

    Social and political movements usually begin around some concrete activity or event—sudden rise in prices, unemployment, governmental suppression, land seizure form peasants, poor villege condition etc. In whatever manner a social movement beings, this movement will need a regular medium of communication.

    A newspaper, small or large, is the only medium which such a movement in the circumstances of Grenada can establish with relatively little capital and in a short period ot time. The movement needs the newspaper to communicate with its members and with the population in general. A newspaper is the only lasting and effective medium of communication available to a social movement outside or radio and television.

    Without a newspaper, the infant movement becomes stagnated and within a short time degenerates. A newspaper coupled with organised activities holds hte movement together and gives it the base upon which it can develop.

    There are undoubtedly other reasons for the establishment of a popular newspaper in grenada, but comprehension of hte fundamentals is essential. The crisis in Grenada is a social crisis, that results fundmentally from lack of information, lack of direction, lack of anti-colonial leadership, lack of social organisation. A newspaper can give information, direction and leadship to a certain extent. Social organisation would be precipitated by the efforts of the newspaper.

    Task of Publishing a Popular Newspaper

    The task of publishing a popular newspaper, particularly in Grenada, depends on what the papter is intended to achieve and on the frequency of publication. The former, however, is more important than the latter, for frequency can be decided after considering all other aspects whereas what the paper must do lies at the very heart of the newspaper venture.

    A newspaper beginning publication at this time in Grenada must attempt to give the people a view of themselves; a view of their conditions of life and their relations with each other, of their relations with each other, of their relations with their brothers and sisters in the rest of the Caribbean, and with other peoples in the world. A newspaper must impart to the people a notion of their historical development, their present state and the direction in which they are heading.

    It must seek to give a social direction to the whole population. More important, it must be the medium through which the people can speak to each other, and share their experiences and opinions.

    Most important, it must expose the crisis that exist in our society, give the fundamental reasons for that crisis, show the way out and show the urgency of getting out of the social mess we are in. Briefly, a newspaper in Grenada must inform, educate, show a social direction, and asisst in the social organisation of people in their villages, towns and parishes.

    But a popular newspaper, to be popular, must also involve the people, must "bring the people in." It must be fore the people and by the people.

    The people must speak for themselves in the paper, not the editors speaking for them; the people must tell their experiences, not the editors telling their experiences; the people must report what they do, what they want to do and what they think, not the editors doing it for them.

    The people must see themselves, their lives, their problems, their frustrations, their hope and aspiration reflected within the pages of hte newspaper. The people must be the central dominant theme of the newspaper. Only in this way can a popular newspaper emerge.

    The editors must express their views, writers will express theirs, unavailable information must be given; the paper must give a social direction, but the people as they see themselves must have a predominant place in the paper.

    To achieve the above mentioned objectives, the tasks involved can be broke down into three categories.

    1. Gathering the material to fill the pages of the paper.
    2. Processing the paper.
    3. Distributing the paper.

    These three stages comprise the total operation of opublishing a new paper. To understand more clearly, the stages involved, the three categories above can be further broken down as follows:-

    I.
    1. Planning the paper
    2. Getting the material written
    3. Collection of material
    4. Obtaining advertisements
    5. Obtaining pictures, cartoons, symbols, etc.
    6. Edition material.

    II.
    1. Lay-out design
    2. Type setting and proof reading
    3. Paste-up
    4. Photographing and plate-making
    5. Printing

    III.
    1. Distribution
    2. Sales
    3. Collection of money from sales.

    The task involved in implementing those stages of publishing a popular newspaper is mainly one of organisation.

    A central staff will have to be organised to beging the other aspects of organisation. Reporters, writers, and photographers must be organised before publication begins.

    And finally, distribution outlets must be organised. For overall organisation, a system of operation will have to be finalised for the efficient running of hte enterprise. This entails the formulation of a distribution system that is practicable in the specific circumstances, a system for obtaining material from writers, reporters etc. and a system of payments for part-time persons or persons who are charged with doing a specific task.

    Formulation of these arrangements can only be done after investigating the local circumstances; that is when the enterprise is being established. However, it will be necessary to have some idea of what can be done, though this idea will go through a process of adjustment and change when the actual enterprise is being established.

    The people required to operate an enterprise as described will consist of both full-time and part-time persons. The personnel given below is based on the assumption that the photographing, plate-making and printing process is done by some other commercial printing enterprise. Also is is assumed that the paper will be a weekly, at least that is the frequency of the paper will be not less that once per week.

    A: Full-time persons

    1. Editor
    2. Advertising and distribution Manager
    3. A paste-up artist
    4. Type-setter
    5. One reporter
    6. One assistant (for paper disturbion)
    7. One photographer

    B: Part-time or Voluntary persons
    1. Reporters, writers etc.
    2. Editorial board
    3. Proof-readers
    4. Photographers
    5. Distributors

    Reporters, writers, distributors, photographers etc. will have to be organised in all parishes and in as many villages as possible from the beginning. Contacts and arrangements should be made with Grenadians and other West Indians in other parts of the Caribbean and in other parts of the world.

    The editorial board is meant to assist the editor in planning the paper, reviewing the development of the paper, its problems and achievements, and planning the future orientation, direction and expansion of the papaer. The proof-readers assist the editor and reporter in reading typed copies of the material, looking for errors, omissions etc. and correcting the material.

    Now comes the all-important question of finances. It is assumed in the financial estimate that the newspaper will be a twelve page weekly. It is further assumed that all stages of the publication process except photographing, plate-making and printing will be done by the newspaper staff.

    These three stages of the publication process will have to be done by another commercial printing enterprise either in Grenada (which is very unlikely as would be shown in the next section), Barbados or Trinidad. The estimated cost given below is base on experience and investigations.

    Estimated cost of 12-page weekly newspaper (10,000 copies) over the period of one year

    1 Editor = $4,200

    1 Distribution and Advertising Manager = $2,400

    1 Reporter = $2,400

    1 Paste-up artist = $2,400

    1 Photographer = $2,400

    1 Typesetter = $1,440

    Rental of I.B.M. Typsesetting machine = $3,600

    Maintenance of I.B.M. machine = $500

    Maintenance of Vehicle = $1,200

    Material supplies = $1,200

    Printing (50 weeks) = $47,500

    Rental of building = $1,800

    Electricity and Telephone = $1,000

    Stationary and postage = $500

    Incidentals = $500

    Total  —  $73,040

    Avg. Estimated cost per month = $6,090

    The above estimate does not include cost of transportation of papers from say Trinidad to Grenada. Neither is the cost of subscription to other newspapers and magazines included. Nor is allowance made for part-time workers. The estimates for these things have been left out due to the difficulty of giving a reliable cost-estimate.

    It is extremely difficult at this state to give a reliable estimate of revenue. It should be understood, however, that the newspaper cannot be expected to make any profit in its first year, and very little in its second, if any.

    On the contrary, the newspaper should be expected to run at a loss in the first eighteen months of its existance. Only fantastic sales and a large body of advertisers who advertise frequently in the paper can make it profitable in its first year of existence.

    Only if the remarkable figure of three-plus pages of advertisement in every issue and sales of 5,000 copies per issue, that is $75,000 per annum, can be achieved would the newpaper enterprise make a small profit. The aim of the paper must be to obtain four pags of advertisement perissue and to push sales of the paper as far up as the newpaper organisation is able.

    Four pages of advertisements (at $300 per page) and 5,000 sold copies (at 10¢ per copy) per issue will result in revenues of $85,000 per annum. However, advertisements do not develop a paper, although they help. The sponsors must see their task clearly, as the development of this newspaper into a daily after two years of the paper's existence, perhaps earlier.

    The cost involved in establishing a newspaper in Grenada as a continuing concern poses the question of the establishment of a modern printery. The question is:

    Can a modern printery be established in Grenada NOW at a recurrent annual cost not far in excess of $73,000 and at a reasonable initial cost? Can this printery obtain sufficient printing work to be financially viable? And how would the printery benefit the efficient and reliable functioning of the newspaper organisation?

    C A S E   F O R   A   M O D E R N   P R I N T E R Y

    Before answerring the above questions, it is necessary to briefly discuss the commercial printing business in Grenada and to draw certain conclusions from that discussion.

    Firstly, there is no printery in Grenada that can handle or is willing to handle the printing of an additional newspaper. The printing, therefore, will have to be done either in Trinidad or Barbados. That is, the layed-out copy will have to be sent to Trinidad or Barbados for photographing, plate-making and printing. This process should take about two days.

    Such an arrangement would decrease the efficiency of the newspaper organisation and could easily lead to delay, serious errors etc. Also, the cost of air transportation for the printed copies of the newspaper between Grenada and, say, Trinidad would make the production cost of the paper exhorbitant.

    Finally, the government can, and most likely will, ban the newspaper. And this it can easily do because the paper would be a foreign-printed newspaper coming into the island from abroad. Just as how the government has banned certain books, magazines etc., so too can they ban a Grenadian newspaper printed outside the island.

    These points indicate clearly the necessity of establishing a printery in Grenada for the efficient, reliable and sustained publication of a popular newspaper. The choice is:

    NO PRINTERY: NO REGULAR, POPULAR NEWSPAPER.

    All the printeries in Grenada are antiquated, disorganised and inefficient. They have neither the capacity nor the capability to handle most of the commerical printing jobs in Grenada even if they wanted to. As a consequence, and this is a known face, many, if not most, of the commercial printing jobs originating in Grenada are done in Trinidad or Barbados.

    There is no reason that can be put forward to deny the tremendous potential of a modern commercial printery in Grenada except the lack of persons with organisational abilities and modern printing skills. And both of these can be obtained, if not in Grenada, certainly from Trinidad and Barbados. They, in time, can train Grenadians to handle the technical operation of a modern printery.

    The volume of work required to make a small modern printery commercially feasible is available in Grenada. Turth to tell, a small modern printery would not be able to handle even half of the total printing work available in Grenada even when the existing antiquated printeries are taken into consideration. Also, with the establishment of a small, modern, efficient and reliable printery in Grenada it is likely that a large percentage of the jobs now given to the old printeries would be turned over to the new printery.

    But it is not sufficent to simply state the case for a modern printery by showing the potential of a modern printery without answering the questions:

    What will this modern printery need to begin operation?What kind of staff would it require? How much would the whole venture cost?

    Since it is intended for the paper and the printery to be established as one integral enterprice, the above questions will be answered in the context of a paper and printery as a unit - a publishing Company.

    Firstly, what moachinery, equipment and fixtures would an integrated enterprise of a paper and printery require to begin operation on an efficient and reliable basis? The following list attempt to answer that question.

    Machinery, Equipment and Fixtures

    1 offset printing press (18" x 25")

    1 Camera (18" x 24")

    1 Plate-maker (18" x 24")

    1 Numbering and perforating machine

    1 Paper cutter or guillotine (24" x 36")

    1 Large stapling machine

    1 Dark room (with developing sink, developing trays, special coloured lighting etc.)

    1 I.B.M. type-setting machine

    1 Headliner

    1 Lighted paste-up table (optional)

    2 long tables

    4 Desks

    3 Short tables

    2 Filing cabinets

    Cupboards, shelves, working boards etc. chairs, stools etc.

    1 Electric typewriter

    2 Portable typewriters

    Certain essential tools for printery

    1 Van or Car.


    The document continues with additional detailed planning; not included on this website.

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