TODAY in Seychelles celebrates its first anniversary...
“A free press is not a luxury. A free press is at the absolute core of equitable development because if you cannot enfranchise poor people, if they do not have a right to expression, if there is no searchlight on corruption and inequitable practices, you cannot build the public consensus to bring about change.” - James Wolfensohn, former World Bank President
Launched on 1st March 2011, TODAY in Seychelles is Seychelles’ first daily (except Sundays) independent colour newspaper. The paper’s modern concept and layout, diverse and up-to-date information are all designed to cater to the needs and interests of all segments of our population as well as our international visitors.
One year later, TODAY in Seychelles has established its reputation as being independent and objective and it can still proudly claim that it does not represent the interests of any one section of the population at the expense of another.
In a short year, TODAY in Seychelles has become a household name and is now distributed to all corners of Mahé, Praslin, La Digue, the outlying islands in addition to many countries around the world through its eTODAY digital edition. The paper has been printed and delivered religiously on time every single day, while circulation and subscriptions have increased dramatically during our first year of operation. With our team of 25 full and part-time employees, the company expects to hire more journalists and editors in 2012 in order to cater to the demanding hours and expectations of our valued customers. Local companies have benefited through our colourful daily advertising spaces, and readers have welcomed the fresh and innovative approach taken by the paper’s editors. Some major highlights in the past year has been the breaking news story of Prince William and Kate’s arrival in Seychelles titled “Honeymoonlighting”, a headline that was quickly picked up by the worldwide press. Another was the unprejudiced reporting of the Seychelles Presidential and National Assembly election, and who can ever forget the extensive coverage of the exciting and memorable Indian Ocean Island Games.
But while the “TODAY in Seychelles” name is now established and the “colour” that the paper offers along with the variety of articles and information are intended to open up debate in a neutral manner, not many know that the choice of the name of the newspaper was itself a compromise. The first choice was to call the new paper ‘Seychelles Today’ which would have been more in keeping with the paper’s ambition and aim. The efforts of Today Publishers Seychelles Limited to register this as a business name were refused on the grounds that the name had been reserved for some publication that had been previously published by some government ministry or other in the early 1990’s. Although the name had never been legally registered and was therefore available for anyone who wished to use and register it, the publishing company was informed outright that it would not be issued a licence to operate under that name. The compromise was "TODAY in Seychelles", for after all, what’s in a name? It would also not have been in the spirit of the paper’s fair play, ethos and consensus to start its life with a costly legal challenge of the Government authorities or a lawsuit that would have seen our already overloaded Judiciary system taking on another unnecessary landmark case.
The paper also began publication dangerously close to the start of the presidential election campaign in May 2011. The editorial staff was fully conscious of the fact that the spotlight would be on the new paper and that the assumption and fear amongst many were that it would be another political publication with a slant towards the Opposition. With this in mind the editors threw themselves energetically into the task of presenting a balanced and equitable coverage of all the candidates, their parties and their respective views. The newspaper thereby became the voice of all and opened up the debate to the widest audience possible.
The paint is still wet as the old saying goes and the paper young enough to feel that it has left a first impression in a newspaper landscape that lacked colour, vibrancy and more importantly, impartiality. Sadly though, there is still a fear that permeates in our society that there is some form of hidden agenda within an independent press, and that the truth should be buried from the public, that public officials should not be held accountable, that misdeeds and corruption in our country should be concealed, that public information and statistics should remain hidden in the closet, that Government news and press releases should be released only to State-owned media, and that serious newsworthy tidbits should remain cloaked in secrecy or guarded as State secrets. And this is where TODAY in Seychelles has excelled and has become a voice for everyone in a country where having a voice or differing opinion is not always seen in the right light. And this is where we will continue to challenge the status quo until one day public information becomes exactly that; public!
But whilst we are proud of our achievements during our first year of operation, we remain conscious of the fact that there is still room for improvement. We will not rest on our laurels and will certainly continue to strive for excellence. We will continue to promote a responsible, independent and professional publication as this is what Seychelles needs more than ever at this critical juncture, given the overwhelming challenges the country faces at home as well as on the global front. Furthermore, with the launch of our eTODAY digital “paperless” version, this newspaper aims to reach a far greater audience, and bring a little bit of “Seychelles” to our large number of Seychellois citizens living abroad as well as foreigners who have a vested interest in the development of our young nation.
In summary, TODAY in Seychelles has taken its first baby steps towards success in its inaugural year. The foundation has been laid, the institution is under construction and we remain true to our convictions and goals. Our company understands fully the immense responsibilities and challenges facing our industry. For the role of guardian of a free and independent press operating within the confines of our small country is a Herculean task indeed. But we believe strongly in the power of the media to educate and to inform the public, whilst conforming to a strong ethos of fairness and equality of press coverage.
With this winning spirit in mind, we wish therefore to thank all our readers and advertisers for your past and future support.
“Today, more than ever, Seychelles needs a vibrant independent press which will not only bring more recognition and accolades to our country, but one that will create a new industry and jobs within the IT, Publishing and Media sectors.” – Marc Houareau, Chairman Today Publishers.