The primary newspapers of the People's Revolutionary Government [PRG] were The Free West Indian and the New Jewel. Ramesh Deosaran sums up the apparent drive to inform by the PRG in his article in Caribbean Review:
. . . the PRG attempted to construct socialist goals, international relationships within the socialist bloc, strategies to deal with internal opposition, and a political philosophy which it wanted to legitimize, both internally and externally. It wanted to persuade others of the virtues of its theories and practices. This need to communicate effectively became an overwhelming consideration since the PRG was functioning in a political context unfamiliar to people in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Peoples Revolutionary Government (PRG) Releases
The News Release was issued monthly by the Government Information Service (GIS). The Government Information Service [GIS] included writers, photographers and administrators. Personalities include Wayne Carter and Pablo Sylvester, photographers; also Ray Donald, Perpetua Henry, Ansha St. Bernard, Jean Wilson, Judy Suarez, an others.
The New Jewel, 1979-1983
By the time of the People's Revolutionary Government, the six legal-sized mimeographed pages of "The New Jewel" stood as a national newspaper of the New Jewel Movement Party.
Although at one time, the selling the newspaper was a mark of commitment to the movement, the interest lagged as the years passed. By 1982, the "The New Jewel" publication responsibility was on the shoulders of one full-time reporter, with consistent article submissions by another, and occasional articles by a third. There was a party newspaper committee, but attendance was lacking. The committee leader was Political Bureau member Unison Whiteman who contributed much to the vitality of the paper. Whiteman, though, was also Foreign Minister, and absent, by necessity, from many meetings. The New Jewel newspaper published through the end of September 1983.
The Programme for Party Paper included these basic objectives:
- Setting up of an Editorial Committee comprised of Party Comrades who are ideologically clear and who are involved in specific areas of Party work.
- Setting up of a proper distribution network to ensure that the paper reaches the masses. Regular meetings should be held with the various distribution structures and sellers in order to ensure smooth co-ordination and get feedback from the masses.
- Writing of articles with an ideological bias. Articles must be clear and written in a way that the masses will understand.
- Writing and promoting consistently the activities of party organs and all local party groups throughout the country.
- Involvement of all Party Comrades and firm supporters outside of the Editorial Committee, in the writing of the paper: Expression, features etc.
- Consistent political analysis of the local, Regional and International situation.
- Writing in an agitational style.
Maurice Bishop noted three additional points:
8. Establish party propaganda c'tee
9. Tighten State propaganda c'tee
10. Find one (1) full-timer
The Free West Indian, 1979-1983
The "Free West Indian" was a state-run newspaper under the People's Revolutionary Government. The paper was scheduled for publication each Wednesday and Saturday. Many copies were distributed outside Grenada through friendship groups.
On 5 October 1979, the new editor, Patrick Smikle, 30, arrived in Grenada from his homeland Jamaica to immediately start work for the next 12 months. His salary paid by the Social Action Center, Jamaica.
Smikle, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) trained, was a graduate of the Mass Communications Course at the University of the West Indies (UWI). He was previously employed by the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC). He served with JBC for 6½ years, for 2½ of which he was Chief Editor-In-Charge of TV news.
Since 1975, Mr. Smikle was employed by the Social Action Center (SAC) in Jamaica as Media & Communications Officer. SAC was a social arm of the Roman Catholic Church and Mr. Smikle's principal obligation was to edit a monthly tabloid geared toward agricultural workers.
The "Free West Indian" began appearing regularly starting in early 1981. A gift from the East German Government [GDR] later in the year of new press equipment and technical assistance pushed the paper to a twice-weekly publication. Glen Burnie and Wallace Bascom had completed a 6-month course in the German Democratic Republic [GDR] to operate the press operation. There was a new two-color offset press and a color separation camera with light tables and sinks for full color work. A stand-by generator was useful during power outages. GDR also donated a small letter press. Three Linotype machines, with three different size fonts, replaced the old electric typewriter and IBM composers. The equipment put production of an average newspaper at 2 hours, 12 hours less than previously.
Don Rojas was the Editor in 1981. He left in December 1981 to become Maurice Bishop's Press Secretary. Before his editorship at the "Free West Indian," Rojas was at Radio Free Grenada (RFG) and Government Information Service (GIS). Rojas was replaced by Colville McBarnette. In late 1982, Rojas traveled to Angola as a representative of the International Organization of Journalists (IOJ).
The financial structure of the paper was (1) 24% subscriber base; (2) 36% advertising fees, and (3) 40% government subsidy. Earl Bosquet was on staff, as well as Garvin Stuart, Vivian Philbert, Ian Redhead, Alvin Clouden, Michele Gibbs and others. Kevin Williams took many photos.
A pictorial poster was included in the 23 March 1983 issue of the "Free West Indian." The graphics featured Fidel Castro, Maurice Bishop and Daniel Ortega. It said:
On 24 May 1983 the Soviet Ambassador Genady Sazhenev met with Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in Grenada. The Ambassador was "concerned about the newspaper not being published for three weeks," and indicated that a specialist come to Grenada to look at the problems at the "Free West Indian." The Ambassador noted "the level of propaganda and ideological activity by the mass media."
"Grenada, Nicaragua, Cuba. Three giants rising up to defend their rights to independence,
sovereignty and justice on the very threshold of imperialism."
By June 1983, The People's Revolutionary Government, in an agreement with Cuba, was looking towards people being trained in Cuba as a newspaper librarian, press photographer, microfilm technician, graphic arts technician and press cartoonist.
Ruggles Ferguson shows up on a July 1983 document as Editor of Free West Indian and JEWEL. Others on staff at that time include Patsy Lewis, Keith Jeremiah, Jacintha Simon and Ray Donald. The Free West Indian and Government Printery merged into one company with Keith Joseph as Manager. Recommendation was made for the merger of the Government Information Service [GIS] and Free West Indian [FWI] reporters. FWI and JEWEL were to be published weekly on Wednesday and Saturday.
A dramatic event took place outside the "Free West Indian" newspaper office at Hillsborough Street on the Esplanade. The day was 14 October 1983, a Friday around noon.
Paterson states that Michael 'Chicken' Roberts, Special Branch Officer, told the crowd of about 300 government workers and others that the problem was a Party issue. The people, according to Hughes, were "demanding that Mr. Maurice Bishop be allowed to continue to lead the PRG."
Reports from several sources are that Selwyn Strachan made an announcement or said words with implications that angered the crowd. Brizan says Strachan told the people that Bernard Coard was the new Prime Minister.
Several sources report that Strachan was booed and hooted, physically manhandled and chased away with shouts of "Coard stands for communism" - "We Gairy than Coard" - "No Bishop, No Revolution."
Alister Hughes immediately reported this incident to the world press. The Grenada Ministry of Information denied the incident took place. Neville Martindale, the Barbadian Nation reporter, was able to get back to his home newspaper office and report on the incident involving Strachan.
Following this incident, the Coards resigned their positions, and they and Strachan went into seclusion.
PRG Newspapers of the Masses
When Prime Minister Maurice Bishop would speak about the press, which he did often, emphasis would be put on not only the "Free West Indian," but the papers listed below, many of which were founded before 13 March 1979:
- "Fight," a fortnightly newsletter of the NJM National Youth Organization (NYO).
- The "Workers' Voice," a newsletter of the labor unions' Workers Council/Committee (WC). By July 1981 the issues were up to volume 4, number 4.
- The "Pioneers Voice," a newsletter of the Young Pioneers organization of the National Farmers Movement (NFM).
- The "Cutlass," a newsletter of the Agricultural and General Workers Union (AGWU).
- The "Fork," 1979/1980, a newsletter of the Progressive Farmers Union (PFU).
- "Media Worker," Newsletter of the Media Workers Assn. of Free Grenada [MWAFG]]
To inform, educate, entertain, serve and build the Revolution
Front Illustration, Issue No. 1, September 1981
- "The Cooperation," a monthly issued from the Education/Training Unit in cooperation with the National Development Cooperative Agencies (NDCA).
- The "Women's Voice," a newsletter of the National Women's Organization (NWO); also in early December 1982 for the 5th Anniversary and First Congress of NWO, a newspaper was issued titled "The Scotilda."
- "Fedon," a newsletter of the People's Revolutionary Armed Forces (PRAF)
The Westindian Crusader
The "The Westindian Crusader" was a Grenadian publication, for certain published in 1979. A weekly newspaper, its editor Mr. Eslee Carberry took copy to Barbados for printing. "The Westindian Crusader" published its last edition 16 October 1979.
During an incident 5 September 1979, the newspaper copy was confiscated by security personnel at Pearls Airport, and never returned. Supposedly, the copy had a letter to the editor with "very damaging" criticism towards the PRG "for trying to drop the charges against Humphrey and Wardally."
Two weeks later, Carberry's passport was also confiscated. With passport returned, on 12 October, and Special Branch and an Immigration Officer's permission, an attempt was made to get Carberry off a passenger boat outside St. George's Pier. Carberry was going to St. Vincent, then to Barbados to get the newspaper printed. A member of the People's Revolutionary Army and a stevedore 'claiming to be a security officer' were the two attempting to remove Carberry from the boat. Despite threats to the boat Captain, the boat continued its schedule with passenger Carberry. The 'Westindian Crusader' was started up again in the early years of 2000, according to Carberry.
Dateline St. George's
A Roman Catholic newspaper "Dateline St. George's", printed elsewhere, was permitted to continue publication according to Bishop's radio broadcast of 15 February 1980 - A Permanent, Standing Commitment to Freedom of Worship.
The Student Voice
"Shortly after "Catholic Focus" was shut down in February 1980, a student newspaper appeared, the "Student Voice." The PRG Special Branch identified the students involved and where it was published. It was closed.
Minor distribution was made in Grenada of the "Coptic Times", a newspaper of the Jamaican Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church (circa 1979-1980), a white [and seemingly well-financed] Rasta group considered highly suspicious by the PRG.
The Torchlight [under the Bishop government]
13 March 1979-19 October 1979
For more detail on the "Torchlight" publishing from 13 March 1979 until its demise, check the link above.
The "Torchlight" was closed 13 October 1979 by Hudson Austin, Secretary for National Security and Commander of the Armed Forces. Grenada Publishers Ltd. was ordered not to publish any other newspapers.
A long and complicated attempt ensued to counter the order. The effort was sponsored by area newspapers, Grenada Publishers Ltd. and Trinidad Express Newspaper Ltd. (and "Catholic Focus") with the ultimate purpose to revive the "Torchlight." A petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights citing Articles 13 and 21 of the American Convention on Human Rights within the judiciary of the Organization of American States (OAS) failed.
A Proclamation of 19 June 1981 of People's Law No. 18 of 1981 followed the closing of the "Torchlight" newspaper by the PRG on 13 October, 1979.
The law banned the publication of any new
. . . paper, pamphlet or publication containing any public news, intelligence or report of any occurrence or any remarks or observations thereon or upon any political matter, published for sale distribution or any other purpose . . .
Catholic Focus, 11 February 1980
The first and last issue of "Catholic Focus" was 11 February 1980. The paper was closed down by the Bishop government and the building where publication took place transferred to PRG ownership.
"Catholic Focus" was owned and managed by the Roman Catholic Church in Grenada. The People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) alleged the "Catholic Focus" to be printed and published by "Torchlight" people in defiance of People's Law 81 of 1979.
Although the "Catholic Focus" was owned as a church property and did not fall under the private ownership of persons under People's Law 81 of 1979, Bishop explained its banning:
"The publication of that paper (Catholic Focus) was illegal as it was printed by the 'Torchlight' newspaper Company in defiance of People's Law 81 of 1979 which forbids a newspaper Company from publishing a newspaper if there are individuals in the Company who own more then 4% of the shares."
The "Grenadian Voice" was first published 13 June 1981. Please click the link above for a detailed discussion about this newspaper. Leslie Pierre was its editor for the two issues that were published before it was closed down by the Bishop government.
The "Grenadian Voice" was revived 20 November 1983. A 16-page weekly published each Saturday, the paper is being published to this day.
The Grenada Newsletter
(During the crisis of 13 October 1983, the headline of the 15 October issue read "Bishop Deposed." The last Grenada Newsletter was issued 16 April 1994. See Gillian Glean Walker's Tribute to Alister and Cynthia Hughes, and the Grenada NewsletterContinued publishing to 16 April 1994)
13 March 1979 - 19 October 1983
Appreciation and acknowledgement to John A. Lent's interviews with Grenadian editors and program directors found in "Third World Mass Media and Their Search for Modernity" and the Journalism Quarterly article "Mass Media in Grenada."
For additional and detailed information, please check out these links:
Gairy and Media
The Spark, 2 February 1975
The Spark, [March 1975]
Torchlight and the PRG/NJM
Grenadian Voice and the PRG/NJM
Grenada Newspapers - Before 1975
Grenada Newspapers - Between 1975-1979