Newsday’s Mills gets Honorary UWI degree
Sunday, October 28 2012
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Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief of the Newsday, Therese Mills, poses with the Honorary Degree of Doctors of Letters (DLitt),conferred on ...
The University of the West Indies (UWI) yesterday afternoon conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt)) on Therese Mills, Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-chief of Newsday, at the 2012 Graduation Ceremony at UWI Spec, St Augustine. The award recognised 60-plus years of her service to journalism.
In a citation presenting her to UWI Chancellor, the Hon Sir George Alleyne, Professor Surujpal Teelucksingh praised her pioneering role in local and regional journalism and said that “the path that she blazed paved the way for the current vibrant role and leadership that women now exert in the industry – in lunar speak: a small step for Therese Mills has produced a giant leap for womankind.”
Teelucksingh asked the gathering to imagine what it took for a woman born in 1928 to rise to the top of her profession.
“We are fully aware that it has not been always a woman’s world. One can guess that such a groundbreaking ascent would have required courage and commitment. These personal and social virtues notwithstanding pale in comparison to her generous and natural gift for the pen,” he said.
He referred to the many awards won by her, including the Caribbean Publishing and Broadcasting Association’s Most Outstanding Award for Caribbean journalists in 1989. This was awarded for a commentary entitled “These were no ordinary men” – a saga on the corrupt politics of John O’Halloran, Francis Prevatt and others. The commentary also won the 1989 BWIA Excellence in Journalism Award for most outstanding social and political commentary.
She was also awarded for three successive years, the Excellence in Journalism award for the most outstanding newspaper editorial in 1985, 1986 and 1987.
Mills, a mother of three, grandmother and great grandmother, is an award winning journalist who began a career in journalism in 1945. Her first job was at the Port-of-Spain Gazette, a newspaper made famous by one of the outstanding editors in Trinidad’s history, Andre Paul Terence Ambard, who fought a contempt of court case all the way to the Privy Council in 1934, settling once and for all the doctrine of Freedom of the Press.
After living in England for eight years, Mills returned to work at the Trinidad Guardian where she became Editor-in-Chief in 1989, the first woman to head a national newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. In the course of her long career, Mills covered many major international conferences for the Guardian.
She retired in June 1993 and was immediately asked to be the first editor-in-chief of a new daily newspaper, Newsday, a position she still holds, 19 years later.
Four years after its launch in 1993, Newsday became Trinidad and Tobago’s largest selling newspaper, holding this position for eight consecutive surveys. She was appointed Executive Chairman in 1997.
Mills was a foundation member of the Commonwealth Journalists Association in Cyprus and served as a CJA executive representative for the Caribbean. She was also a foundation member of the Journalists Association of Trinidad and Tobago; and served as vice chairman of the National Commission on the Status of Women appointed by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in 1975 during the UN International Women’s Year. She also conducted a number of courses for journalists, including one in Guyana in July 1993.
Teelucksingh referred to her “prolific pen” which, in addition to her newspaper writing and editing, also authored several books for children, including Great West Indians (Longmans), Canefield Fire (Mc Millan) and several published in Trinidad and Tobago. A number of her children’s stories have been converted to DVD format by the Ministry of Education for use in schools.
At the last National Awards in 2012, Mills received the Chaconia Gold Medal for her service to journalism. In 1987 she also received the Humming Bird Medal, also for her contribution to journalism. She was also honoured in 1997 by the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago for dedicated service to journalism.
Mills is currently writing her memoirs of a lifetime in media spanning decades, which is scheduled for publication in the new year.