Her accomplishments reach beyond journalism; she is an artist, lawyer, pilot and philanthropist.
Eileen Carron is recognized as the longest currently-serving editor and publisher. She is the woman behind The Bahamas’ newspaper, The Tribune. She has held this post for more than 53 years. She steadfastly defends press freedom and exemplifies integrity and courage. She was the first Bahamian woman to graduate from Columbia University, the second women to ever be called to the Bahamas Bar in 1962, the first CEO of the 100 Jamz radio station in the Caribbean, and the only Bahamian to ever have an editorial read into the United States Senate record.
She took over The Tribune after her father. It was a responsibility she did not originally want.
“No I didn’t want the burden. My father didn’t want it either, neither of us wanted it, yet it was thrust upon us. It was a duty. My father was brought up never to shirk the duty, whether we liked it or not we did it,” she says.
The motto of The Tribune is “Being Bound to Swear to the Dogmas of no Master.” To Eileen, this means following her conscience and not being bullied—not that the government hasn’t tried.
She was left in charge of an untrained staff, denied the work permits to bring in more qualified reporters. It was a newsroom of young people straight out of school.
“They kept business from us, but we just tightened our belts and moved on; no matter what happened, we didn’t buckle,” she says.
Her father fought for civil rights in 1956, demanding citizens of all color and religion be allowed to enter public places. Following in his activism footsteps, Eileen is credited with affecting change, making the difficult decision to support the opposition in the 1992 election.
The government tried to make her job impossible, to force the paper to close. She says one day she dug her heels in and decided she would leave when she wanted to leave. “I was a trail blazer in my day,” she laughs. Her motivation has always been keeping the doors of The Tribuneopen, but in her care, it has grown into a tremendously respected institution.
“You have to get worked up over a crisis, at least I do,” she says. “If I see someone being wronged, I can’t kick up my feet. We have to fight it. It keeps you alive…it’s an exciting profession if you really believe in what you’re doing and aren’t doing it for a paycheck. We did it because it was right and right for our island. That is what moved us and kept us going.”
Now at 86 years old, she looks back on her time there.
“I felt we have done good for the country, I feel we’ve been honest citizens, we’ve done our best; I think the fact that we’re here and everybody is on an equal footing, they have equal rights, I think we’ve accomplished a lot,” she says.
She never lost her passion for the paper and describes each day as a crisis.
Her advice to journalists is to get the truth and let people make up their own minds. “Journalists can do a lot of good if they don’t shave their stories. Just keep it straight and let the public make up their own mind.”
Kirsten is the Social Media and Blog Editor at the News Media Alliance.