Media fraternity saddened by Griffith's passing
January 31, 2007
Veteran journalist Cecil Griffith, who died on Monday night following a period of hospitalisation, is being remembered as a professional who was intolerant of mediocrity yet was always pleasant.
Though he had solid roots in broadcasting, those close to Griffith said he started out writing. His career in journalism dates back to the Guyana Broadcasting Service (GBS) in the sixties where he served as Editor-in-Chief.
Griffith, 73, was known for taking pride in his work and for never accepting an unsatisfactory news story. Some who worked under him at GBS feared him but according to close friend, Terry Holder, "as they grew to know him many understood him".
Holder, who was Chief Producer at GBS and whom Griffith worked under for a number of years, said he was one of the true professionals. He recalled that they became colleagues in 1968 when Griffith went over to GBS along with Oscar Ramjeet, Clem David, Vic Hall, Edwin Ali and Hugh Hamilton and others. "He was one of the serious editors and was intolerant of mediocrity. You could not go to Griff with a bad story but he was also very pleasant. Many who worked with him understood him better with time," Holder said. He was a man who enjoyed life; he always looked dapper and was often seen with a hat.
Ali, who also worked with Griffith at Radio Demerara for several years and succeeded him as Editor-in-Chief at the then Guyana Broadcasting Corporation, said it was not easy to make friends with him, but when this was achieved, "he would go all the way to work closely with you and offer as much advice as possible".
In 1968 Griffith was one of eleven journalists including Ken Corsbie, selected to undergo training in television production in England.
Up to the time he fell ill Griffith wrote the weekly column, City Council Round-up published in the Stabroek News (SN) and yesterday Editor-in-Chief David de Caires said Griffith was with the newspaper from the start. De Caires said that for many years Griffith wrote the popular column about the councillors' high jinks at City Hall. It was a source of light entertainment for many readers, he said.
De Caires said the company benefited from Griffith's experience and good advice and saw him as part of the SN family. He said when he last saw Griffith, about a month ago; he seemed his normal cheerful self. The deterioration in his health was apparently sudden and rapid, de Caires said. He extended condolences to Griffith's family on behalf of the SN staff.
Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green said he is known by many names but Griffith had dubbed him, 'Frequent flyer'.
He said Griffith's passing is a great loss because he was a stalwart in his profession. Green said Griffith was a genuine journalist. The Mayor said he has known Griffith for a long time and he will miss him. He said he is hopeful that the media fraternity will commemorate Griffith's life in a fitting way because he gave much of himself.
In similar style, a press release from the Mayor and Councillors of Georgetown said Griffith played a significant role in bringing municipal work programmes to the forefront in his SN column. The councillors expressed profound sadness at his passing.
Griffith also hosted the popular feature One on One, on the National Communications Network (NCN). Yesterday the Government Information Agency (GINA) said his sterling contributions to radio and television broadcast will be an example for journalists to emulate. The management and staff of GINA said they are saddened by his sudden passing and he will be missed by his colleagues and all who encountered him during his lifetime.
Many media persons who worked with Griffith and others who had encountered him reflected on his life yesterday on the Guyana Press online forum. There, too, he was remembered as a stalwart, a dear friend, one of the greats and for his ability to be humorous in a serious situation.
The Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), among those paying tribute, singled Griffith out as the one who provided the world with news from Guyana during the days of the Voice of America's Caribbean report. MWAG President Michael Bascombe observed that most of the current membership may be too young to acknowledge his exploits. He said persons like Grenada's Leslie Pierre and others would certainly remember Griffith's effortless contribution to the regional media.
Nills Campbell, who worked with Griffith, said it is difficult not to remember him with mixed feelings. He pointed out that Griffith's ability to be humorous; to crack a joke in a serious situation or otherwise, and his stout defence of the profession even when friends did not buy his given point, readily comes to mind.
Wesley Gibbings, general secretary of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers wondered if the members of the media fraternity and others understood how great a loss Griffith's passing is to the Guyana and Caribbean media. Gibbings said Griffith was one of the greats who never abandoned journalism and who had much to offer even in the last days and years.
He said many practising journalists and others no longer in the profession would have benefited from Griffith's vast experience and wisdom and lamented that the new, rising stars appeared not to recognise his value as a professional and as a good man.
The media fraternity and Griffith's friends and colleagues are hosting wakes on the NCN lawns today and tomorrow from 7 pm.