By Faye-Chantelle Mondesir
International bodies can highlight Iyanola’s media movers-and-shakers, why can’t we highlight our own? And so I sat with Sarah Peter former news reporter at DBS Television to conduct an up-close-and-personal and behind-the-scenes interview to find out about the colourful life of this on-air media personality and journalist. “I have always been very passionate and ambitious and I think what stands out about me, is that I am extremely creative. I am always trying to do things from a new perspective,” was her first remark when I asked about her.
Recently featured on the International Journalists Network (IJNet), she says she feels very humbled by the fact that an international organization, which recognizes the work of journalists, chose to profile her. “I am honoured by that experience and proud. All journalists should not only stick to the local field, but try to expand themselves, not only within journalism, but whatever field one is in,” she wisely shared.
Asked what inspired her toward this career path, she offered, “ I think I love journalism because it is such a diverse field and a journalist does so many different things, for example; one day we may be covering the budget, the next we would be covering a fire, the following a crime scene. It is very colourful, not a job in which you would just sit at your desk, its exciting,” she stated.
Peter also spoke of the opportunities to meet persons from all different walks of life and being able to bring out some inspiring stories. “You hear some of the stories people go through, they inspire you and they give you motivation, knowing that they were able to survive these things,” she added.
Another thing Peter finds very important about journalism is its impact. “A lot of times people criticize journalism and rightly so, because I would be one of the first persons to admit that we need to enhance our craft. There are areas we need to improve on, but I find the thing people don’t acknowledge about the field is it’s power; it’s ability to make an impact in persons’ lives. Journalism has the ability to change a nation, hold governments accountable and the ability to truly make a difference in someone’s life,“ Peter passionately stated.
Sarah Peter has had diverse experience within journalism; she has done television, radio and print journalism. When asked about her highlights within her career she revealed, “One of the experiences I am grateful for, although I was told it was impossible to attain, was the opportunity I got to be a United Nations Fellow. I was not even chosen as a local nominee. She went on to explain, “To compete against international nominees to me was a challenge and when a certain individual said it was impossible, I recall this fire igniting within me telling me, ‘Sarah you are actually going to make the impossible happen’. “
She applied as an independent candidate and low-and-behold was shortlisted. “I wrote the exams and then did the interview and I actually got through,” she says adding “this achievement was very important, because I was the first St. Lucian to attain such an honour”.
Another highlight for her – obtaining a scholarship as the first St. Lucian to attain the Inter American Press Association Scholarship to study Journalism.” A Caribbean person had not attained that scholarship for years (not including Puerto Rico and other countries). “I have also received a scholarship to study journalism at Cardiff University and more recently I was also a recent Fellow to cover the CMMP Conference of delegates in Paris, France.
“I like setting the trend for others, as others have set the trend for me, persons like Lisa Joseph and Pete Ninval. He has been one to break the barriers and has worked for BBC Caribbean. They have continuously set the way for young journalists and I aspire to be like them and emulate them,” admitted Peter.
For all of these achievements however, one she holds dear to her heart is a television show she created ‘Off Limits.’ She shared, “I remember going to television stations trying to convince them to assist me, offered to pay them and the product was never good enough. There was always criticism, I had no support and I made the decision I was going to do it.”
Peter expressed, “What was really important was the impact the show had, for instance with the Maynard Hill rape case of a 7-year-old raped by a 50-year-old man I featured.” “That story died out like any other story there was,” she revealed and when it was featured on Sunday on HTS, on the Monday persons were talking about it, calling on the radio station sharing similar stories of rape and sexual molestation.” According to her, never before in her years as a journalist had she seen its impact, until that time, based on the response it generated. “Knowing I can make a difference really stood out for me,“ she triumphantly declared.
When enquired about the lack of journalistic recognition locally, she added, “Journalists are not necessarily recognized for the contributions they make to society and the impact they have. I do believe that we as media personnel too should be featuring each other, – it starts with us! We as journalists should be as one; instead of bashing each other via social media why can’t we call each other and discuss issues we have with our colleagues? They might not necessarily be receptive, but we must recognise our own,” said Peter adamantly.
While the twenty-something believes in setting goals and standards for herself, for now she is not setting anything in stone, at least not just yet. At the moment, she is intent on living life and enjoying it to the fullest as she unabashedly declared, taking each day at a time. What remains most important to her is ‘letting things flow’. On a lighter note she revealed, “I consider myself a very humble person, I am quite fun and like to laugh, smile, make jokes with everyone; I’m creative and I always try to help out. For all who know her on a more personal level, as professional as she is as a media lady, Peter definitely knows how to strike that balance. “I love to party,” she blurted rather enthusiastically in closing and that is indeed evident by her airy, light-natured personality.
Look out for her next show on which she will discuss discrimination in Jamaica and will feature a woman speaking about her experience of being in an abusive homosexual relationship. Show airs on Sundays at 9:30 p.m. on Carib Vision.