By Hilbert Haar | Editor in Chief SXM Today
The Today newspaper’s run as the country’s most critical and reliable news course ended on Friday, October 6 after seventeen years. The printed version of the paper has been taken out of circulation, because the company’s ownership could not justify the heavy investments a restart would require after the damages inflicted by Hurricane Irma.
During an emotional meeting in a conference room of the Bute Hotel, located just behind Today’s destroyed office building in Philipsburg, the owner – Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. – informed the staff about his decision on Friday afternoon.
He offered staff members three months of salary in exchange for the termination of their labor contracts.
It is with great sadness that I, as the newspaper’s editor-in-chief since January 1, 2008, have to witness how all my colleagues have become jobless. At the same time, I understand the business decision to close down the company.
Today has made its mark over the past ten years. In 2010, a series of articles about ground speculation resulted in the political downfall of the country’s first Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor – Maria Buncamper-Molanus. Together with her husband Claudius, she was later found guilty of forgery and tax fraud in the Court in First Instance.
Another series of articles about the involvement of Justice Minister Roland Duncan with the prostitution sector, also indirectly led to the demise of Duncan’s political career.
In 2013, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association honored Today with its Public Media Award – the only newspaper on the island to have received it.
While the printed edition of Today is now lost forever, its voice may come back through an online version. Those plans are still under consideration.
My future lies most likely elsewhere: outside the hurricane belt and, if our options materialize, maybe as a photographer for an online travel guide in Asia.
For now, on behalf of the staff at Today, I want to thank all our readers and our clients for their support over the more than ten years I have had the honor of working here.
I also want to thank Mr. Richard Gibson Sr. for giving me the freedom to produce a critical and truly interdependent newspaper for so long.
Editor-in-Chief @ Today
from January 1, 2008 until October 6, 2017.