Press Association to meet with NCN Chief over removal of pregnant Anchor and suspension of Sports Editor

The Association is expected to seek a clear explanation from the CEO about the suspension of Sports Editor, Jocelle Archibald and the removal of Journalist Natasha Smith from the anchor's chair, reportedly because of her pregnancy.

Press Association to meet with NCN Chief over removal of pregnant Anchor and suspension of Sports Editor

The Guyana Press Association is expected to meet on Tuesday with the Chief Executive Officer of the state-owned National Communications Network over recent developments at the network involving two female journalists.

The Association is expected to seek a clear explanation from the CEO about the suspension of Sports Editor, Jocelle Archibald and the removal of Journalist Natasha Smith from the anchor’s chair, reportedly because of her pregnancy.

Archibald was handed a one month, no pay suspension over a Facebook post about a colleague’s Pokemon question to the President. She was asked to remove the post and apologise to the colleague, but when she did, her apology was deemed not sincere enough, and the one month suspension was handed down. 

Smith who served as one of the main anchor’s of NCN’s nightly newscast was reportedly moved from the anchor’s chair as her pregnancy progressed. The NCN Chief Executive Officer denied that he gave any instructions to have her removed from the newscast, but Smith has made a decision to step down from the anchor’s chair and all of the controversy as she nears her delivery date.

She released the following statement earlier this evening.

Statement from Natasha Smith:

“First of all a heartfelt thank you to those who have been making contact with me to offer support.

Secondly I have been overwhelmed by the support I have been receiving on social media since word of my calamity surfaced so I’m thanking the public for that support as well.

I believe with the interest of the public aroused and growing it is only fitting as a Public Servant to give a response. It is also my right as an individual.

The facts of the matter are as follows:

On Monday August 8, I was told by a senior manager that it was decided that I will be relieved of reading the news.

On the following day I was called by another senior manager who explained to me how outraged he was about what was said in the management meeting of august 8, he told me he believes that as a woman I have a right to become pregnant and bear a child without it being a hindrance to my job since being pregnant does not affect my job in anyway.

On Tuesday August 9, I was called to the office of the Editor-In-Chief, She explained to me that I would be relieved of reading the news because quite frankly the C.E.O did not like what he sees when he looks at the news.

She told me that she was given a directive to remove me from reading the news in a management meeting on August 8 because the ‘image’ was not looking good for the news.

I enquired if it had anything to do with my pregnancy she did not respond to the question directly, but asked me to wear bigger clothes. She said the directive came from the C.E.O and she is just following instructions.

Prior to the meeting with the E.I.C while on the set of the news I was told by the cameramen that a directive was given not to show my belly but to take tight (or close up) shots of me while reading the news, when I enquired about the reason for this they responded by saying that this is a directive that was given to them by the E.I.C. (N.B this same directive was not given for any other anchor for the minor newscasts or weekend news)

In the meeting with the E.I.C I was told that the close up shots would continue.

I have been employed by the National Communications Network for more than eight years, serving six years in the News and Current Affairs Department and now in my second year as an Announcer/Producer in the Production Department. I have anchored the news for the past eight years.

This is my second pregnancy while being anchor, In 2011 I was pregnant with twins and there was never any issue with regards to my anchoring or attire, nor any directive to cameramen to shoot from my breast upwards.

At that point I felt hurt and angry not for myself but for my child who I consider a blessing. Given the fact that I have to hide a part of by body, makes him seem like something unwanted or to be ashamed of. I likened the situation to one where I took a picture with my child and had to Photoshop him out of the picture.

I was offended and I contacted my union representative we then sought a meeting with the Human Resources Manager.

The H.R .M did not deny that the directive was given but insisted that it was not with immediate effect and that the E.I.C is misrepresenting what was said.

Later that evening while I was preparing to go onset to anchor the news I was told that the C.E.O. wants to meet with me however I could not attend the meeting because the news was priority at that time.

I was represented by my Union Representative who met with the C.E.O and HR.

The representative later told me that the C.E.O denied that I was being removed because of my pregnancy.

The following day I was again called by the E.I.C, she informed me that there is a new directive which is, to let me continue to read the news until I am ready to proceed on maternity leave.

By this time I had already decided that I was going to stop reading the news regardless, because of all that transpired and the stress it caused me, so I stopped Anchoring the news on August 12.

I subsequently met the C.E.O and the H.R. He denied that the directive given was because of my pregnancy.

I hope telling my side of the story brings some clarity to the issue. I do not wish to embarrass the company I have been loyal to for the past eight years or to any of the parties involved.

Information circulating on social media may or may not be true but it is my view that only a probe into what transpired in the management meeting where the directive was given to replace me as News Anchor can bring out the truth from all sides.”


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