Gail Balwant-Khan looks back with a sense of pride and fulfilment at how far Newsday has come. She is among the select group of stalwarts who have been here from the conception, birth and growth of Newsday and continue to labour to ensure Newsday stands out from the competition.
She began as assistant to the advertising manager 25 years ago and worked her way up to General Manager, Advertising.
She remembered the early days when the advertising department was set up and began working to put the first issue of Newsday on the streets.
“In the early days, we all worked long harsh hours. I got to work at 6 am and did not leave that office until after 10 pm, seven days a week.
“Selling advertisements for the first few issues was also hard work.
“Some of the comments we got were: ‘It will not last,’ ‘Why should we support something we haven't yet seen?’ ‘You will not be able to maintain the price of $1,’” she recalled.
But Balwant-Khan was there in 1993 when the planning for Newsday was taking place, and she was there on the night of September 19, when the first edition rolled off the press.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong in those early days: computer crashed, network failed, printers did not work – and in the middle of it all the amazing team of people pulled together the first issue of Newsday.
She recalls that when she was asked to join the newspaper, she was sceptical, but came on board soon after and never looked back. She remembers when the new company moved into Chacon House in Port of Spain, and the initial reaction from members of the public and others in the media.
“Nobody expected us to last. There were already two established daily newspapers in the country. We were referred to as the dollar paper.”
And how does she feel a quarter-century on, looking back?
“A deep sense of accomplishment and fulfilment from seeing Newsday grow from strength to strength over the past 25 years. I have seen the company grow from the ground up to reach successful heights and celebrate many firsts. I have seen it through its highs and lows and many firsts in the line of innovations.”
She reminded that Newsday is the only newspaper in TT to put out a 3D Carnival magazine.
Newsday can boast of other unique products and innovations, too.
“We are still the only newspaper in TT that offers our clients the opportunity to place labels that can peel off on our front pages.
“There’s the new Newsday website as well,” she said proudly.
She thanked Newsday too, for giving her the opportunity to broaden her horizons. She remembers being part of a team going to the World Media Conference in Washington, USA, a few years ago.
She’s grateful to her many mentors, including Billy Carpenter, Therese Mills and Maria Cooper, to name a few.
Balwant-Khan said the advertising department has gone through many transitions, but continues to grow and stand strong amidst changes in the industry, even in a time of economic constraints and competition from social media.
The department continues to come up with new ideas and new packages to satisfy the needs of clients. She is particularly proud that advertising has been able to maintain a good market share in the print industry, and she credits that success to the negotiating prowess of her sales team.
She admits, though, that it is a challenge, in the current economic climate, to win the advertising dollar.
This Newsday veteran added proudly that Newsday has maintained its reputation and circulation through its hardworking circulation and distribution section.
Her wish for the paper is continuing successes for the future, and more innovations.