The Searchlight Newspaper
Special Features
February 22, 2013
The Searchlight Newspaper

Fri Feb 22, 2013

In 1995 when a small group of persons decided on the establishment of the Searchlight newspaper, everyone, without reservation, agreed on approaching Mrs Keizer to serve as Managing Editor and really mother for what was then a young baby.{{more}} Mrs Keizer’s only reservation was her limited knowledge of the newspaper business, but there was so much trust around and respect and confidence in her abilities that we did not consider that a major problem that could not be overcome.

Mrs Keizer’s presence served to provide the kind of confidence and trust that were needed by advertisers. The early teething problems and the way she helped to work around them, working sometimes as late as 2 a.m, are really a subject for some other time. Her contacts and reputation as an outstanding Headmistress and Vincentian helped tremendously. She was soon able to contact and establish a working relationship with the Nation newspaper of Barbados that helped to guide the young paper in its early years. She was strong in ensuring that staff was adequately trained and organised training sessions, many of which were open to young journalists of other media establishments and aspiring journalists. The efforts over the years of herself and members of Searchlight, board and staff resulted in a movement from a staff of five and readership of less than 1,000, to one where the paper now has its own building, publishes twice a week and has a staff of 24.

The paper provides employment not only for staff, but also for 93 sellers throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines who benefit from its publication. Mrs Keizer always felt that the paper must have some social responsibility and in the early years when there was little money around, she, unknown to others, contributed from her own pockets on behalf of Searchlight, providing for instance, books to schoolchildren and support to many struggling people. Her concern also extended to the staff of Searchlight, whom she saw as her own children. She was strong, too, on getting the paper into some of our schools, in an effort to contribute to the growth of literacy.

She was almost from the very beginning an advocate for the acquisition of a home for the paper. She set her mind too on the establishment of a Printery that would help to keep the monies in St Vincent and provide service to other newspapers and to others in need of that service. The establishment of SVG Publishers owes a lot to her foresight.

Health problems in later years impaired her work and reduced her contribution. First it was the loss of vision in one eye that proved not only difficult for her editing work, but as a voracious reader, took away from her something she loved. Following that she had several other health challenges, including a broken thigh. This impaired her movement as she had to resort to a wheelchair.

Mrs Keizer remained a very determined and resolute person. We of Searchlight, Board and Staff pay special tribute to her, the “mother of Searchlight”, as we dub her and one who has functioned in many other areas, Chairman of the Public Service Board of Appeal, Justice of the Peace and Chairman of the National Heroes Committee. She has made a sterling contribution to Searchlight, to Education, to the Girls’ High School and to the broader society. In an era when the country cries out for national role models, we can safely say that she was one who has inspired many and will continue to, even as she is no longer among us.