Searchlight, the only of the three newspapers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with more than one edition per week, will implement a number of changes soon, which will see its Tuesday edition continuing only in electronic format.

Sources tell iWitness News that the newspaper, which is owned by Interactive Media Ltd., is also considering job cuts.

One proposal is for at least one employee from each of the company’s departments to be sent home.

The development comes as the management of the company summoned shareholders to a meeting a few weeks ago and asked them to invest more money.

Sources say that the newspaper has been considering its options for some time amidst a rapidly changing media environment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in keeping with global trends.

One consideration at one point was for a totally freelance editorial staff, a well-placed source told iWitness News.

Locally, the emergence, and, in some cases, blossoming of free-to-read news websites, like iWitness News, have been a major challenge for print and other traditional forms of media, like Searchlight newspaper.

While Searchlight has shown signs of trying to adapt, media observers have noted what seems to be a high rate of turnover in its editorial department.

Searchlight’s especial challenge is to preserve its legacy publication, Weekend Searchlight even as its “Midweek” edition, published on Tuesdays, is still yet to carve out a niche, almost a decade after its introduction.

There were early signs of trouble when, in 2012, two years after Midweek Searchlight was introduced, the print run was halved.

Last year, the paper announced that it would shift the focus of its Midweek Edition from hard to soft news, but this did not seem to have had the intended effect.

The paper has come upon its latest hurdle notwithstanding what some media observers say is it favoured position with the government and state-owned companies and agencies, ostensibly in return for an editorial policy or slant that seems to favour the current administration.

9 replies on “Searchlight to ‘downsize’”

  1. C. Ben-David says:

    Searchlight and other print news outlets both here and abroad face life threatening problems:

    1. Most young people don’t buy or read printed news publications.
    2. Many older readers, some barely literate, are content to get their news on television or the streetcorner.
    3. The costs of printing and distributing a newspaper keep going up.
    4. Advertisers realize that their biggest audiences lies in cyberspace and television.
    5. Newspapers are tainted by political bias (as suggested above).
    6. People want information now-for-now, not a week after the fact.
    7. You don’t have to leave home to get all the news and opinions you require if you have Internet access.

    News and information sites like IWN which allow readers to instantly access the latest news and commentary and Reply to what they read is where the future of media lies. This is a real advance in media access and democracy, one that I applaud.

    God bless Kenton X. Chance for bravely leading us from the elite darkness of biased print journalism to democratic light of participatory Internet communication. If there is a national hero in the land, this young man is one!

  2. Correctly so that “a rapidly changing media environment” has since the start of the millennium, forged an aggressive paragon to the heel of print newspapers management internationally. Their having to scramble beyond what had been their comfort zone for centuries, a confirmation to the said reason that news within our SVG diaspora move like quicksilver through the diaspora.
    With global media sources like WhatsApp and Face Book and with the pressure continually been put on the various internet providers, News Paper print promotion become secondary to websites like iWitness News who in my opinion; these days can be amongst the most productive source of marketing.
    Job cuts within these established news printing businesses may seem negative on one hand however, more promising for independent thinking journalist to embrace freelance opportunities, enabling the Papers a more hands-off editorial alternative.

  3. …though I do agree the world of reporting news/information is changing, I for one don’t believe that the fastest news is the best news and surely it is not always the correct news.

    …I will continue to browse IWN but I am old school and have no issues with waiting a week for news because I trust the accuracy of that reporting more than this new craze of “I need to be first to report it, whether its accurate or not.” I have seen too many retractions or updates because of inaccurate news reporting.

    I truly hope that if there is any truth to this story that Searchlight is able to regroup and find some way to stay in print media world.

  4. 1. You mentioned that young people dont buy newspapers. Well involve the young people. Give them a space in the newspaper where they can express themselves through poetry, story writng or personal achievement.

    2. Feature local small businesses and sole traders.

    3. Feature workers, teachers, doctors, policemen and women etc. who have made a worthy contribution to their community and country.

    4. Involve crossword puzzles, educational questions and word searches in the weekly publications.

    5. Put in recipes using local product and local drinks.

    These are the things that will attract people to buy your newsper.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Young people have instant access to all of the above on the Internet for free.

      Hundreds of small and medium-sized newspapers have gone out of business in the last 20 years. Print journalism is slowly dying all over the world not because of issues of content but because we all want newsworthy and related issues now-for-now.

      All three papers in SVG print much of the same stuff several days after it appears on Internet sites. The Vincentian has even resorted to the pitiful practice of reprinting editorials by its own writers and by columnists like Jomo Thomas and Kenneth John, a sure sign that it has run out of ideas and inspiration. I’m sure it is only being kept alive by being highly subsidized by its parent company, Metrocint, in homage to the memory of Egerton Richards, the CEO’s father.

      None of the three newspapers engage in the type of investigative journalism that Kenton Chance does seven days a week.

      If all three papers folded, hardly anyone who is literate enough to access the Internet will ever notice the difference.

  5. C. Ben-David says:

    In Friday’s Searchlight, Claire Keizer opined that the newspaper is now trying to, “….further exploit[s] opportunities presented by the increasingly digital, mobile and social media environment in which we live.”

    If truth be told, the newspaper is going through a life-or-death restructuring based on several years of business and readership losses.

    As I have long said, the future belongs to Internet media. Searchlight might do well to heed its own message by going totally online.

    Either way, in the next couple of years, one of our newspapers will cease publication.

  6. Echoing Elma Gabriel point in noting that, as the hard print news medium struggles to find their new place in this ever changing world, and modern mediums like iWN seek to take their dominance in the changes, new jobs opportunities could eventually come, as advertiser embrace these inevitable changes.

    However, before the advertisers realise their needs and do get on board, Bank loans and development Grants, should be readily provided to these new and exciting businesses by Government and financial institutions, if they ever wish to assist in local jobs creation, information to the market place and a healthy vibrant SVG enterprise economy.

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