The Media Association of TT (MATT) has extended condolences to the family and friends of journalist Nalinee Seelal, a groundbreaking crime reporter that cemented the reputation of the early Newsday publication, who died early on Monday.
A dialysis patient, she was found by her husband of 15 years, Sydney Beepath, a former cameraman at IETV.
When MATT contacted Seelal’s husband, he said she passed away peacefully in her sleep last night, having given no indication of any discomfort.
Seelal was a television news producer at AVM television when she was hired by Newsday Editor-in-Chief Therese Mills in 1994 to drive the paper’s push into high impact crime reporting.
She quickly became a major name in crime reporting in that era, renowned for her powerful addressbook and network of contacts. She was named Journalist of the Year in the 1998 Royal Bank Media Awards.
In a Facebook note of remembrance, Glenda Timothy, a former typesetter at Newsday remembered her as, “A boss when coming to crime and other reporting. She was hard working, and a wealth of information to her colleagues and others in the Industry.”
“She was a very generous person, who did her best to help others as far as possible, not only in work related scenarios but in other avenues as long as she ‘knew someone’ or had information to help others. She was the type of journalist who always went more than the extra mile to get a story, or help others to get info on what they were working on.”
CNC3TV’s Sampson Nanton remembers Seelal as having, “The biggest appetite for news I have ever seen in a reporter to this day. One story a day wasn’t enough, not even two, and by the time she reached five, three were exclusives.”
“Stories had to be made without the existence of the internet and WhatsApp. She made them by beating the ground and made a name for herself that the ground couldn’t beat. She was one of the first reporters in T&T with a cellphone (probably the first), the big and bulky early Motorola ones with the pull-up antenna, and when it rang, you bet it was a lead story in the making.”
In conversation with MATT president Ira Mathur, colleague Ken Chee Hing said: “Nalinee worked for Newsday primarily as a crime reporter for over twenty years and was partially responsible for my coming over to Newsday 24 years back.”
“She broke some of the biggest news stories not just in crime (famously interviewing the drug baron Nankissoon Boodram better known as Dole Chadee) but also political stories, such as the former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday’s secret meeting with Ralph Maraj before he (Maraj) crossed the floor.”
“She had an enviable list of contacts in national security. She knew with movers and shakers, politicians. She got the big stories and used her influence and connections with people in power to help ordinary people.”
“Because of the work she did, a lot of people reached out to her for help. Even if she was on the crime beat and a landslide affected the community, she did that story also. She used her influence to help people.”
“Like Nalinee, I started off as a crime reporter. It sets us apart from other news reporters. We have no choice but to develop thick skin. We take cuss and criticism and report on the worst aspects of humanity. Even if it took a toll on her, she never complained. She was the consummate professional journalist.”
“She was a giant in her field, taking over the mantle of the best crime reporter in the 70’s and 80’s Evans L Green.”
“Even when she began suffering from diabetes, glaucoma and blindness, she worked to get the story out there. Journalism is our career and job, and we have to get the job done. She was among the journalists of the early 2000’s who got so consumed by their jobs and the next big story that they forgot other things in life, like our health.”
“Many journalists die not of old age but of preventable diseases, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Even as we mourn Nalinee, I urge fellow journalists to take better care of themselves and live more balanced lives. We have lost too many.”
“In the last year alone, I’ve had to read obituaries on colleagues I would have expected to live an entire life, Suzanne Mills, Rattan Jadoo, Joel Nanton and now Nalini. The ironic thing is that our clients, our readers (not doing the difference between PR and the truth), often hate us when we give our lives to bring them the truth.”
MATT extends condolences to the family and friends of Nalinee Seelal on her passing.