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Crossing Jordan

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Crossing Jordan

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There is a level to which most ambitious career women aspire that marks a pinnacle of professional achievement. Call it a pivotal position, a sought-after job, or that highly coveted corner office. For Kaymar Jordan, that high point was being named Editor-In-Chief of the Nation Publishing Company Limited.
It was a position she secretly craved and her moving into it at this stage in her life is something that, according to her, she couldn’t have scripted.
By her own admission, she had enjoyed her tenure as director of news and current affairs at the Caribbean Media Corporation, but she found herself yearning for more.
“To be honest, I’d been a little restless,” she revealed. “I was the one that always said don’t settle in positions or get too comfortable.”
Getting comfortable or resting on her laurels is not something that one could accuse Kaymar of. Her professional mantra is: “You’re only as good as your last story.”
That thirst for continual personal advancement was something that needed to be quenched, so when the opportunity arose, Kaymar knew she had to jump at it.
“It’s an idea whose time had come,” a beaming Kaymar admitted of her new role at THE NATION.
“In fact if I had scripted this I probably would have expected it a couple of years more down the line. Sitting in the position now and having been invited here, I realised this was the time.”
Expectations have been high since Kaymar stepped into the role this past September. But there are none higher than the expectations she sets for herself.
A self-professed workaholic, she proudly claims: “I plan to give 110 per cent.”
Though some might question if a 36-year-old woman has the editorial prowess to step into the key role made legendary by Nation Editor Emeritus Harold Hoyte, one need only look at her résumé – with stints at Starcom, The Barbados Advocate, CANA, CBU, CMC – which reflects a commitment and preparation for her moment in the spotlight since the age of 19.
But perhaps as Kaymar would tell you, she has been preparing for this role her entire life.
“My mum used to think I would be a lawyer because I used to ask a million questions,” she said smiling. “Throughout my high school career I realised I was honing a love for journalism. I did well in English literature subjects and the ‘why’ question never went away. I was always the one asking. I was the last of nine children but I spent a lot of time questioning my parents about most things.
“I went on to be the editor of Alexastra magazine for my secondary school, Alexandra, and it was very clear from then I wanted to be a journalist.”
After completing an Associate degree in mass communications from the Barbados Community College, preparation met opportunity for Kaymar.
“When I finished mass comm, CANA was looking for young journalists which was new to them,” Kaymar recalled.
“They usually would hire people with lots of experience in media. I was at the top of my class at BCC and I went in for the interview and got the job. But I was working along with a lot of experienced men in the field. I remembered getting a lot of stupses from the editor behind me when I’d write a story.”
It was at CANA that Kaymar would first start exploring boundaries and different journalism mediums, which would lead to her foray into broadcasting.
“I had joined the print service at CANA but I was always into radio. I would go down to the radio station during my lunch hour and after work,” she said. “At home I used to sit down with a tape recorder and do my own newscast. There was always one line I would start with, ‘Good evening, I’m Kaymar Jordan. Today Prime Minister Lester Bird . . .’.
“He always used to begin every one of my newscasts.  Beyond practising, I went to Sherbourne to cover a summit and there wasn’t a radio broadcaster, so I did a live  broadcast for CANARadio.  From then on it started to mushroom and I became the first multimedia journalist covering print and radio for the company.”
One such challenge that stands out was Kaymar’s first overseas assignment to Rome, Italy.
“My third year at CANA I was sent to Rome to cover the World Food Summit. I remember I didn’t know head nor tail where I was going,” she admits.
“To some extent I didn’t know what I was doing but I was excited.  I never knew before that so many people covered summits. When I stepped into that room I saw over 100 journalists . . . .”
She spent most of the Press conference futilely trying to get the attention of then FAO director general Jacques Diouf, but her persistence paid off as the Press conference was just about to wrap up.
“All the time I was waving at Jacques Diouf trying to get his attention and then they were about to wrap up. He said ‘no, we can’t wrap up; let’s give the young lady a chance’,” she recalled.
“I used the opportunity to put two questions in one since no one else cared to ask a single question on behalf of the Caribbean. It was the lead story back in Barbados (on CANARadio). That was my first overseas assignment and it returned home satisfied that it was a success.”
Kaymar went on to interview key figures, including the likes of Nelson Mandela and former United States President Bill Clinton.
“My colleagues used to affectionately call me Christiane (Christiane Amanpour) in reference to the former CNN correspondent,” she said.
But it was her father, who died a year ago from cancer, who was and still is her biggest motivator. Kaymar says without a doubt it is from him that she inherited her drive, passion and ambition.
“Journalism is a serious profession,” says Kaymar. “It must be carried out with the gravity that it merits because the public is depending on us and we have a duty to them first and foremost, not the politicians, not the business people, but to them not to be used.”
Equally adamant is she that “as a member of the Fourth Estate we must jealously guard the principles of our profession and not allow ourselves to be mere puppets of a capitalist system driven by greed and subject to the whims and fancies often-times of less noble agendas”.
Though it hasn’t always been an easy path, it was one that made her fearless, determined, and it earned her the respect of her peers and the people she covered.
Yes, success did come at a price. The long hours and frequent travel that are often by-products of success have delayed marriage and mummyhood, if only for the time being.
Though she will confidently tell you that marriage and family, more specifically twins, are definitely on her agenda, Kaymar scoffs at any notions that women can’t have it all.
For now, she feels that she has come full circle, returning to the print medium, where she got her initial start.
“There is a satisfaction you get from doing a good print story that you can’t get from reading a newscast,” Kaymar admits. “But if you can write a print story and create the images of what took place – the pictures of that last moment of something or the beginning of something – if you can really achieve that, there is a level of satisfaction that reading 20 newscasts doesn’t measure up to.”

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