The Kalipersad Factor

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Above: Dominic Kalipersad, one year post-retirement. Photo from the Mr Kalipersad’s collection.

I’ve known Dominic Kalipersad since I began my career as a photographer. Our first intersection was forty years ago at a long defunct modelling agency called Finale Fashions, run by the late Ken McPherson, who was then known as Jasareh H.

I was doing what young men have done with cameras since they were invented, taking photographs of pretty and sometimes not quite so pretty young women and along the way, learning something about portraiture, which became a cornerstone of my photographic practice.

Many years later I worked with him as Features Editor and Editor-in-Chief at the T&T Guardian, where he offered a starting point for my local photo essay series, Local Lives.

Dominic Kalipersad was doing voice and presentation training with the young models at Finale, and he’s been doing again for brand personalities and communicators since he formally retired from local television station TV6 as Group Head of News, CCN Ltd.on September 01, 2016.

He’s also been steadily building an admirable presence on Instagram and Facebook in particular, curating releases in a dripfeed of undiluted local history and culture, potent information squibs dropped into a growing group of followers.

You became significantly more active on social media after your retirement from TV6. Was that a strategy?

As Group Head of News, CCN Ltd, I had major disagreements with the head of the digital media unit on his approach to TV6’s online media content.

The future of the organisation in this arena was clear to me, but not in the way he wanted it done. Since he controlled the website and Facebook, I took the lead in posting TV6’s Twitter and, later, Instagram content, posting throughout the day and night. TV6’s Twitter account attracted the most followers among local media. It still does.

I also knew that, in retirement, I would want to have a digital presence and contribution, and considered some options, including a podcast and a website. I knew, however, that my content would not include hardcore news.

I decided to post content that would be age–appropriate and in keeping with my brand: informative, inspirational, nation building, varied in range from history to pop culture.

Did you access any training in online media platforms before getting your start?

None, apart from personal research online, observation and intuition.

You quickly settled into a role as a kind of online media historian. Was that an intuitive decision?

Yes (I did no research to help the decision). No (because I definitely wanted to use digital media to be educational and informative, and fun, too).

I knew that if my brand was to grow in this space, I would have to stay present and be relevant. There are products I’m planning which could, hopefully, be monetised in the future.

You seem to favour Facebook and Instagram, how did you decide to focus your online presence on those two platforms?

I considered that local Facebook users are within my age-range, give or take; and are people who might share an interest in my planned content. I also considered that younger users might develop an interest and come along for the ride.

With Instagram, I play more. The users appear to want snippets of fun, so I post some informational stuff and some silly stuff. It appears to give me a broader reach, both geographically and demographically. The ‘likes’ are growing; as are the followers, ranging from Russia to the US.

Surprisingly, I see more interest in Breaking News posts on Instagram than on Facebook. I presume that Facebook users get their international news online more so than Instagram users.

What has the experience been like for you?

It has inspired me to think well beyond traditional media, consider more effective ways of communicating, and appreciate the instant feedback.

Has posting to online platforms offered you any new opportunities?

Training opportunities. I receive lots of requests.

What would you describe as the key things you have learned from the experience so far?

Communication is democracy fulfilled.

This interview is part of the final installment in the Journalism 2017 series of columns about the state of the Fourth Estate in T&T today.