Saturday, September 26, 2020

What we have become!

As the year comes full circle and slowly goes to bed, we cannot resist the temptation to cast back an eye at the expanse we have thus far traversed together with you our reader.
This is the final edition of The Sunday Standard this year.

It is also that time of the year we can look back, remember what we have been through, savour our successes, pay tribute to those who assisted us in our victories, and remember those no longer in our midst but whose contributions made it possible for all of us to be where we are.

For those of us still alive, we should remain thankful to the Almighty that difficult as the path has been, things turned up rather kindly for us in the end.

For us as a newspaper, it has been a difficult year indeed – full of real life challenges, excitement and headaches.

I have come to the conclusion that existing on the margins, with many laws tilted against our very survival, running a newspaper in Botswana is the hardest and most thankless of the professions.

Many a people forget that as journalists we are human and, therefore, make mistakes.

The pressure of meeting frenetic deadlines makes the recurrence of those mistakes even more regular. The fact that our work resides in the public glare makes the pressures all the more unbearable.
It is a startling case of irony that the pressures of living up to the very high standards we expect and set for the government we like to criticize always turn up to make our very own lives a living misery.

It is a sad fact that the high expectations we set on the society we like to pretend we serve always come back to haunt our very existence.
The fact of the matter is that as journalists we invariably always fall short and, when gauged against our own scales of uprightness and integrity, we are often found wanting.

These past twelve months, as has been the case with the last four years of its existence, The Sunday Standard remained a product of passion.

We have been vilified and threatened for our courageous pieces of journalism.
We have been dragged to the courts, including by ministers of state, for what we sincerely published in the utmost faith that it was in the best interests of this nation.

A famous American playwright and essayist, Arthur Miller, once said a good newspaper is like a nation talking to itself.
This is the principle on which this newspaper was founded.

It is a principle that for all our frailties, for all our human weaknesses and vulnerabilities we have stood by, we have upheld and will continue to uphold.
Through and through, we have grown to regard ourselves as a part of the community we serve.

In that regard, attacks on us have only made us steadfast in our conviction to persevere and see this self-set noble undertaking continue.

As a newspaper, we are encouraged by the thousands of letters we receive from our readers every year.

Before starting work on this column this week, I waded through the stack of editions we have produced since January this year.

I could not help but laugh my lungs out as I read the many letters and opinions sent to us every week by our readers. The anger, congratulations, applause and complaints are breathtaking. We are all the richer for them.

The letter pages and opinion sections of the Sunday Standard remain by far my favourite section of this newspaper.
The shouting down we receive from our readers are a living reminder that in everything we do, there is something much larger and more powerful than comes out of the articles we frantically piece together every week.

The letters we receive for publication are a reminder that, whether we like it or not, this newspaper has come of age to become a powerful tool of communication through which the nation can talk to itself.

I never stop to be amazed at the beauty of insight we continue to receive from our readers from this particular section.
Then, of course, there is Loose Canon column.

He has never ceased to amaze me with his grasp of detail, his intensity of conviction, his utter disregard for political correctness, his humour and brazen light heartedness.

Loose Canon’s candid humour has brought normality and smiles to many a troubled household across the country.
The same applies to Below the Belt; a satirical column that has apparently become President Festus Mogae’s must read.

I am happy to report that together with others, all these will continue into the New Year as part and parcel of Sunday Standard inventions.

Of course, we have made mistakes.
We have been mired in many life-threatening controversies.

We have emerged all the wiser.
I can’t think of anyone who would start such a massive and ambitious operation like Sunday Standard; from scratch, with no resources, faced with a tenacious and entrenched competition whose ways and conduct bordered on hostility and sabotage, and go on without making mistakes.
All I can do is to apologise for the mistakes we made.
And say, henceforth, we will avoid our past mistakes.

I would, however, also request you the reader to look beyond our mistakes and, instead, relish the good journalism we have crafted and continue to craft.
That, in fact, is all the reason why we are still here together ÔÇô despite our differences of opinion and the diversity of our characters.

At Sunday Standard we remain immensely and heartily proud of you our reader.
You have been with us every step of the way.

Were it not because of you we would not be looking forward to the beginning of yet another New Year with such zeal and refreshed perspective.
We can only say thank you for your support.

The growth of Sunday Standard in the last three years has confirmed what we have always suspected: that Batswana are craving for a courageous, good quality newspaper they would use to talk to themselves.

As Arthur Miller once said “a good newspaper is like a nation talking to itself”

We wish you a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Enjoy. Don’t indulge.

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