[UPDATED] Newsday, journalists say goodbye to 'one-of-a-kind' Nalinee Seelal

GONE TO REST: Veteran journalist and former Newsday crime editor Nalinee Seelal, dies at 53. File photo
GONE TO REST: Veteran journalist and former Newsday crime editor Nalinee Seelal, dies at 53. File photo

VETERAN journalist and former Newsday crime editor Nalinee Seelal, who made a name for herself as a crime reporter, has died. She was 53-years-old.

Seelal's husband Sydney Beepath confirmed her passing at their Cunupia home at around 1 am on Monday. She was ailing for some time with complications of diabetes and was a dialysis patient.

When contacted by Newsday on Monday, Beepath said he remembered his wife as a dedicated reporter who took her craft and responsibilities very seriously.

"Nalinee was one of a kind, she was really one of a kind.

"She was fiercely independent, she was true to her profession. In all things, her work came first as well as the company she represented which was Newsday."

Former colleagues said that she had greatly influenced their careers through her work in the industry.

Newsday acting managing editor Ken Chee Hing said Seelal was really and truly a stalwart of local journalism.

“She approached me to work at Newsday, but I knew of her even before then as I worked as a crime reporter. She was probably the best crime reporter of my generation.

“I feel her loss and her passing deeply both on a professional and personal level but I’m very grateful that her suffering and her pain is at an end and she’s at peace. It’s a loss for the local fraternity and we just need to remember all of the great work she has done over the decades and commemorate her achievements.”

Veteran Newsday political reporter Sean Douglas said he began working with Seelal in 1996, two years after she joined the company.

“She will be unmatched, and her passing marks the end of an era.

"Nowadays, reporters have to deal with so much data coming in in an office-based environment, the mode of work and the amount of work has changed so much that I don’t think we’re going to really see another Nalinee Seelal who went out there and developed contacts in a really deep way. Who put on her boots and went out into the field.

"She continued to work valiantly even after she lost her sight. I’m glad she’s at peace now.”

He described her as perceptive, hard-working, and insightful. He said her hard work would have been motivated by caring for the society and the direction it was headed.

“If you had a problem in this crime-ridden society, she would genuinely help you. I’m sure there are unspoken numbers of people who she genuinely helped out of a personal concern for them, that you’d never read about in any newspaper. And it was beyond the call of duty.

"She was unmatched, the queen of crime reporting, the best in her day. The landscape has changed so much. She had established relationships, like that Dole Chadee interview. I don’t know that criminals now would talk.”

Veteran Newsday journalist Clint Chan Tack said Seelal was very committed to her work as a journalist, describing her as honest, proactive, brave and fair.

“She always strove to do her best on every story she did. She strove for excellence from herself and was an inspiration to her colleagues and a team player.

"She knew how to get facts with clarity, honesty and integrity, reflecting all views accurately and earning the respect of everyone she interacted with.

"For her, getting it right always trumped getting it first. She just happened to do both very well.

"As a person, she was honest, wise and generous to all who knew her. Condolences to her family and friends. May she rest in peace."

'Newsday owes a lot to Seelal'

Newsday pagination supervisor Damian Jones, who worked with Seelal for 24 years, said she was a go-getter who was always chasing a lead story and at the forefront of the leading story bacchanal.

“She was a tireless soldier that always got the big ones.

"Newsday owes a lot to Seelal.

"Many of our historic front pages are owed to Nalinee Seelal stories. I remember her being excited the night before the story broke, saying, 'I have the hottest story tomorrow, watch and see, Damian, ah mashing dem up tomorrow.'

"She genuinely liked being a crime journalist. She did it before it became easy with social media and stuff like that. She made her contacts the old-school way, going out on the beat and chasing the big fish.

"Even when she lost her sight, she still chased big stories and got someone to type it out for her. Now that is commitment to your craft.

"Crime reporting has lost one of the best in the business, a true gem.”

Jones said Seelal was highly competitive, but was still willing to mentor and advise others, although she wasn’t willing to give up or share her lead story.

Seelal would have interacted with several members of the police service over her career and they shared their memories of her with Newsday.

Former acting police commissioner Stephen Williams extended condolences to her family and coworkers.

“She was a committed reporter, she worked extremely hard and she worked extremely smart over the years. We had our interactions. Sometimes we agreed to disagree. But at the end of the day, she worked in a professional manner and, as a police officer, I did mine in a professional manner and I respect her as a professional. And I’m really sad to hear she has passed away.”

Retired senior superintendent Johnny Abrahams said he and Seelal had a good relationship.

“You could call at any hour of the day or night and give her a story and she always reported accurately. She was never a writer with no bacchanal.

"She was a friendly person, someone you could have approached. You know you have a little story to put out there and, as a result of that, she’s one of the people who started to highlight my career, and I was always grateful to her. I’m sending condolences to the family and to the Newsday staff also.”

Former deputy police commissioner Wayne Dick said Seelal was the best reporter he ever knew.

“My experience with Nalinee is that she is honourable. I recall, some time ago, she asked me to comment on a particular homicide, and two other stories that were linked. I told her I preferred not to because I don’t trust journalists in that you tell them one thing and they do or write something else.

"She gave me her word, quite unlike many others, that whatever I say is what she’s going to deal with, notwithstanding there’s an editor-in-chief. And I felt comfortable with the manner in which she spoke with me. As a result, I gave her the story and she held true to form.

"From then on, I gained a lot of respect for her and she continued in that vein as far as I’m concerned. It is a sad day for media in TT.

"She was a great woman.”

Politician: Seelals was dynamic, professional

Seelal also covered politics during her time at the Newsday, and politicians from both sides of the aisle expressed their sadness at her passing.

Opposition MP Roodal Moonilal said he was extremely saddened by the news, having known and worked with her over several decades.

“She was a very dynamic, professional reporter. There is a strange relationship between media workers and politicians, in that we depend on each other, and over the years we have had the opportunity to interact.

"She was a woman of great professional integrity and diligence, and fairness as well, given her trade. She will be missed and I’m hoping that her life and record will serve to inspire other journalists and reporters in their own work. Deepest condolences to her family, friends, and the media fraternity.”

Caricom and Foreign Affairs Minister Amery Browne described Seelal as an outstanding media practitioner.

“She was known for her relentless dedication to her profession, and for her willingness to mentor others along the way. Nalinee's work over the decades at the Newsday helped our citizens to be more aware of current events and the important news that have shaped our lives and our understanding of this society. I can tell you that her stories were closely followed by many persons in public life. I am very saddened by the news of her passing."

Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday said he had had many interactions with Seelal over the years, and found her to be a very pleasant person.

“I think she was trying her best under the circumstances under which she operated and I want to extend my deepest condolences to her family and friends.”

Seelal joined the Newsday in 1994 and was the winner of the Journalist of the Year in the Royal Bank Media Awards in 1998.

Among her most famous stories were the interview of drug baron Nankissoon Boodram aka Dole Chadee which is one of the few surviving interviews of Boodram still on YouTube.

Funeral arrangements are still being finalised.

This story was originally published with the title "Former Newsday crime editor Nalinee Seelal dies" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

VETERAN journalist and former Newsday crime editor Nalinee Seelal, who made a name for herself as a crime reporter, has died. She was 53.

Seelal's husband Sydney Beepath confirmed her death at their Cunupia home at around 1 am on Monday.

She had been ailing for some time and was a dialysis patient.

Contacted by Newsday on Monday, Beepath said he remembered his wife as a dedicated reporter who took her craft and responsibilities very seriously.

"Nalinee was one of a kind, she was really one of a kind.

"She was fiercely independent, she was true to her profession. In all things, her work came first as well as the company she represented, which was Newsday."

Seelal joined the newspaper in 1994 and was the Journalist of the Year in the Royal Bank Media Awards in 1998.

Among her most famous stories were the interview of drug baron Nankissoon Boodram, aka Dole Chadee, which is one of the few surviving interviews with Boodram still on YouTube.
Funeral arrangements are still being finalised.

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"[UPDATED] Newsday, journalists say goodbye to ‘one-of-a-kind’ Nalinee Seelal"

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