Last week we celebrated Haitian Times’ 20th anniversary. For me, the milestone was one that solidified our position in the community. A lot can change in a day, let alone 20 years, and yet we are still here.
At first they scoffed at our founder’s vision. When they couldn’t kill the dream, they questioned whether this could be realized. When they saw he created a full-fledged operation, they sowed seeds of doubt within the community attempting to attack his integrity and intentions. When their bullying and attempts of intimidation failed, they finally came to accept, and for many, respect, the contribution an institution like Haitian Times has to a community. Throughout it all, our founder remained steadfast in maintaining the integrity of Haitian Times, turning a blind eye to manipulation tactics and outright attempts to infect the paper through corruption. However he made sure the Haitian Times operated outside of that sphere. It is with that same spirit that I took on this role as publisher.
In the weeks leading to our anniversary, I reflected on what he built and how he was able to maintain the paper’s longevity. The answer was simple — he stayed above the fray. While this may seem simple enough, it’s not. Everything is gray and a potential conflict of interest when a community institution is run by those actually in the community because people misinterpret accessibility with familiarity.
I reflected on the expectations that would be placed on me from those with their own agendas and how that stacked up against what our readers demanded from us.
“They will flatter you. They will attempt to bully , intimidate and manipulate you,” he said during our anniversary reception. “Stay above the muck and remember your only duty is to truth, fairness and transparency.”
Irregardless of our proximity to the community and stakeholders on the ground, Haitian Times is now or never will be a simple mouthpiece because my priority is defending and promoting the interests of our community and not the narrow interests of a few. Trumpian attacks against the press and a “you’re with us” or “against us” attitude is dangerous to the growth of the community and democracy as a whole.
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