ST JOHN’S, Antigua — The Observer Media Group (OMG) in Antigua and Barbuda has found itself in a desperate financial situation that threatens its very existence.
“I can tell you that OMG is at the crossroads and facing strong headwinds. We will not survive if we do not work together and work smarter,” chief operating officer Darren Derrick wrote in a memo to staff dated October 27, 2017.
The memo was in response to a letter signed by members of the newsroom department listing myriad grievances related to working conditions, Antigua News Room reported.
In the memo to staff, labeled “Private and confidential. Not for distribution,” Derrick emphasised the financial challenges and that the Observer was barely treading water.
According to Antigua News Room, when staff complained that one person often had to act as producer, reporter, technician and presenter in a radio news cast, management responded that it was not “financially viable” to provide a full complement of staff on each shift.
“The stark reality is that news, in today’s world of multimedia, requires staff to multi-task across disciplines at all times… we will not survive if we do not become multi-disciplined and more productive,” the memo read.
The memo rebutted staff complaints about inadequate staffing by emphasising that OMG, like many media houses around the world, was in dire financial straits.
“Our problem… is that our paying supporters are dwindling and our non-paying supporters are increasing,” it read.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that OMG owed about $1.5 million in utility costs to the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), which was demanding the outstanding sum, leading Derrick to claim that the government was “utilising state institutions to silence” the media group.