Former Bloomberg TV reporter Zahra Burton promises to turn the Caribbean news industry on its head with her TV news magazine show, 18 Degrees North. Named for the geographic coordinates of Jamaica, 18 Degrees North will be the first production of Global Reporters for the Caribbean.
The Jamaica born and raised Burton said she founded the company last year to fill the void for investigative reporting on Caribbean issues.
“There are millions of people in the Caribbean and its Diaspora who want credible news from the region,” said Burton. “I am determined to deliver news that digs deeper and remembers to follow up.”
Ahead of the show’s launch in the week of August 18, 18 Degrees North sought out skilful and knowledgeable reporters and videographers from all across the Caribbean, the United States and the United Kingdom to deliver Caribbean-centric stories through a global lens.
“We have oil and gas; we have stock exchanges; our weak borders make us prone to drug trafficking; we have one of the most closed societies in our backyard in Cuba; we have Rhodes Scholars, record holders in the world of sports and indigenous tribes; world heritage sites; gold cartels and one of the world’s biggest offshore banking locations in Cayman. My point is there’s no shortage of stories. We want to bring the importance of Caribbean stories to the rest of the world,” Burton said.
The program’s interim website 18DegreesNorth.tv features clips from upcoming stories that indicate a commitment to in-depth coverage of Caribbean affairs. So far more than 20 stations in the Caribbean, U.S. and U.K. have signed on to distribute 18
Degrees North including top broadcast networks such as Jamaica’s TVJ and Trinidad’s TV6. Negotiations are underway with other broadcasters as far away as Africa.
Jamaica’s foreign investment arm JAMPRO also recently approached her about taking the show on its official mission overseas to seek distribution and investment for local film and TV projects.
“We had specific requests for news shows. Burton’s project, 18 Degrees North, is a perfect addition to the lineup of offerings we’re bringing with us,” said Kim-Marie Spence, manager of Creative Industries at JAMPRO.
The show’s hard-hitting style of journalism and high editorial standards has attracted both regional and international investors and advertisers, Burton said.
“The response from our major advertising markets here in the Caribbean and in the U.S. has been encouraging with GRACE International signing up as our major sponsor. “18 Degrees North will become the best platform for Caribbean advertisers hoping to reach the Diaspora and overseas advertisers looking to reach the entire Caribbean with a one-buy solution.”
She said the company hopes that with the potential to reach more than a million viewers in its inaugural August 18 – 24 launch, more sponsors, investors and networks will sign on.
* Picture above Zahra Burton