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Sunday 26 May 2019
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25th Anniversary

Dawn Ford – Patrick Chookolingo’s dream lives on

Dawn Ford, one of the directors of Daily News Ltd and chairperson of the board's Human Resource Committee. Photo by Jeff K Mayers
Dawn Ford, one of the directors of Daily News Ltd and chairperson of the board's Human Resource Committee. Photo by Jeff K Mayers

News flows through the veins of Dawn Ford.

She’s a director of Daily News Ltd (DNL), Newsday’s parent company, and her family has enjoyed a long and illustrious history on the local media landscape.

Ford said while she was not a member of the board of Choko Holdings – a major shareholder at the company's inception in September 1993 – the board had pursued her father Patrick Chookolingo’s vision of a third daily newspaper for Trinidad and Tobago.

Chookolingo had also played a critical role in the formation of the Trinidad Express, the Bomb Newspaper, TnT Mirror and Sunday Punch.

"So the dream lives on."

Chookolingo died on June 15, 1986.

Ford said Newsday was the result of years of planning and negotiations with shareholders and others who have remained loyal to the company.

As a director, a position she assumed in December 2013, Ford works with the board to bring about solutions/resolutions for a smooth running of the company.

She chairs the board’s Human Resource Committee and deals with issues that come to the attention of the committee from the staff.

Additionally, she said the committee makes recommendations on policy to the board for implementation.

"I’m guided sometimes by the chairman on critical matters."

Even so, Ford admitted that looking after the interest of shareholders and employees can sometimes be very challenging.

"But at the end of the day, we take decisions in the best interest of the company."

Ford, who is now chairman of Choko Holdings Ltd, said Daily News Ltd’s first Editor in Chief and CEO Therese Mills did an exceptional job in both roles for much of the company’s 25 years.

"She spearheaded the success of the newspaper when they were number one in the country."

Ford said Newsday’s success has always been underpinned by its professional editorial team.

"We have built our reputation by breaking stories and highlighting events in rural areas of the country. We also have made our mark in politics, culture, sport and human-interest pieces."

She praised journalists for keeping Newsday on the front burner.

Ford said Mills’ death on January 1, 2014, at 85, was one of the company’s lowest points over the past quarter-century. She recalled that in the days after Mills’ passing, many hard decisions had to be taken.

This resulted in the board seeking the expertise of veteran media personality Jones P Madeira to keep the paper on track. Madeira is now the newspaper’s executive editorial consultant.

As the Newsday Group forges ahead to another 25 years, Ford said succession planning was a must.

"The board continues to have faith in the editorial department in training young journalists to keep the paper on top among the daily newspapers in the country.

"Newsday continues to play a major role in the day-to-day business of the country by educating and informing the population."

Ford said in succession planning, the company has already begun the process with the implementation of the NYLO (Newsday’s Youth Lens and Opinion) education project, which exposes young people to the rudiments of journalism during the July-August vacation. Some NYLO graduates have been retained as freelancers or even staff members as reporters or photographers in the editorial department.

Ford has pledged to continue to serve and contribute to the improvement of the Newsday brand.

"The board of Daily News Ltd is working towards making Newsday the number-one daily in the country.

"This includes Tobago,” she pointed out, “where we are the only one distributing a free daily newspaper for the Tobagonian public."

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