PAJ knocks Holness

Thursday, December 08, 2011


THE Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has taken prime minister Andrew Holness to task over statements that he made recently, which the PAJ said were potentially threatening to media workers.

At a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) meeting in Manchester last week, the prime minister, who is also leader of the JLP, drew the ire of media workers and other observers when he declared that the local media could not be trusted to present the party's message.

At the time, the prime minister took a swipe at a news report carried by Television Jamaica (TVJ) and disclosed that the JLP was moving to social media to get its message out to Jamaicans.

Holness continued his verbal attack on Monday when he told party supporters in Portland that they should not be surprised if the local media chose not to report on aspects of his presentation. The prime minister's comments were mild when compared to those uttered on the same platform by West Portland Member of Parliament, Daryl Vaz who chided TVJ for pulling a JLP advertisement, which the station said was being reviewed by its lawyers to avoid legal challenges.

In the letter to the prime minister, PAJ president Jenni Campbell said that the association had taken note of the negative public utterances against journalists and the veiled threats against media workers by JLP supporters at public meetings.

"The PAJ takes note of the negative public utterances from your political platform against journalists and the veiled threats against media workers by your supporters at public meetings," the news release stated.

"The PAJ is aware of instances in the not too distant past where platform comments have resulted in attacks on journalists. While we respect the right of every individual to criticise the media the vitriol that has come from the Jamaica Labour Party platform in Portland and Manchester is unacceptable and has put media workers at risk as they perform a legitimate and necessary function of providing the public with information," the PAJ said.

The PAJ advised the prime minister that it was prepared to take its concerns to regional and international organisations.

"We wish to state clearly that should this pattern continue or if a single journalist is attacked the PAJ will swiftly seek the assistance of its regional and international partners including the International Press Institute, the International Federation of Journalists, the Inter-American Press Association and the Association of Caribbean Media Workers to ensure that your administration is reminded of Jamaica's enviable record of press freedom and the sanctions which can be brought against a government which threatens the safety of media workers," the PAJ said.

On Tuesday, the RJR Communications Group, the parent company of TVJ announced that the telephone numbers, email addresses and Blackberry contact details of some of its managers were electronically released to members of the public by the JLP's young professional arm, Generation 2000 (G2K).

The company claimed G2K's move was in protest over the station's decision to pull a controversial JLP commercial.

However, G2K has denied that it publicised private contact information for managers at the RJR Group. In a news release, G2K President Delano Seiveright said that the organisation directed those concerned about perceived bias by the RJR Group to communicate those concerns via email and or by telephone to the RJR Group managing director as well as to the group's head of news and sports.

Seiveright maintained that the numbers sent out were publicly available office numbers and emails assigned to the RJR Group.

Late yesterday, the young professional arm of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), the Patriots also expressed grave disappointment at the prime minister's statements.

The Patriots said that the criticism has reached a point whereby some journalists are now being heckled and harassed at political meetings of the JLP.

According to the Patriots, such actions constitute a dangerous threat to democracy and a risk to the personal safety of journalists.

"It is a sad day for Jamaica when a prime minister, and especially one who claims to have brought a new and different approach to politics, has made attacking the free press, his first preoccupation and the target of political attacks on the campaign trail," the Patriots said yesterday.

The Patriots said that the Prime Minister's recent platform comments were inappropriate and unbecoming of the leader of a democratic country.

General secretary of the Patriots, Wayne Gentles said that the group was also concerned that Holness had not seen it fit to condemn the actions of JLP affiliate Generation 2000, which has launched a campaign of media harassment by publicly circulating the personal contact information of some media personnel, encouraging persons to call and criticise them.

The Patriots said that it has reports that during the prime minister's address to the JLP's mass meeting in Port Antonio earlier this week, media practitioners were heckled and even threatened by JLP supporters. This followed Holness' pronouncement that the media cannot be trusted to report positive messages, the Patriots said.

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diehardr sickheads
12/9/2011 - 1:32 AM
ms hanson can i remind you that manley called the gleaner a whore and march on it, ban gov workers from buying the gleanear, the voice news media was burnt down, the gov of the 70s pull journalist before the house to find out who they were writing for, dwight whylie and byron balford was fired from the jbc caues they were seen as to balance.The PAj even said once they say nothing wrong with gov owning the press,maxwell felt it from the jlp but john hearn was beaten at a pnp conference.
Beverley Hanson
12/8/2011 - 8:09 PM
Older Jamaicans told me that PM Hugh Shearer was restrictive back in the 1960s. There were songs alluding to this such as the song, "Carry go bring come." This is nothing new for a JLP administration.
Beverley Hanson
12/8/2011 - 8:05 PM
The JLP has a history of restricting freedom of speech. Older Jamaicans can tell us about Shearer's government in the 1960s and all the things they banned. Singers had clever songs with hidden meanings that criticized Shearer then, for e.g "Carry go bring come."
joyce bennett
12/8/2011 - 4:39 PM
Why don't they talk to Portia too............
Maurice Cole
12/8/2011 - 2:38 PM
Mr. Holness obviously doesn't read the Observer.
Nejeeper KNG
12/8/2011 - 1:46 PM
I expect higher standards from the PM and members of his cabinet that is why I was relieved to see the PM reaching out to the press in an effort to establish a better understanding. There are going to be differences with politicians and the press it is a worldwide issue however there are no excuses for the lack of professionalism especially on the campaign stage. Will the advisers to the PM please WAKE UP! Wake up for JA and advise the PM. Mr. PM please evaluate and conform so we can move ahead.
Jaye Stone
12/8/2011 - 12:52 PM
Holness is Golding's "mini-me", his little clone. He seems to suffer from the same kind of verbal diarhrea and does not know when to shut his trap. Might lose the election because of his lack of wisdom!
Kweli Simba
12/8/2011 - 12:39 PM
The press must be carefull not to be percieved as being intimidated by a speech from a political platform or find itself in the corner and support of another. It is the usual behavior of politicians to criticize the press when they feel that their message is being stepped on. If the PAJ can't stand the heat they need to step out of the kitchen and stop making threats to malign the govt with reports to international and regional partners. Lighten up its only politics, no more no less.
Norman Lee
12/8/2011 - 12:25 PM
Forget the tense Andrew for a moment and enjoy Jenni!
Mark Forbes
12/8/2011 - 12:19 PM
It seems the JLP's pathological aversion to even the slightest opposition is trumping their understanding of how business works. Media is a business. Business have to cater to a wide cross section of people, which a media landscape full of Mark Wignalls wouldn't do. If a party is at odds with a collective free press then the party should look into itself.
PM, a free press is one that is free to be pro-, anti or neutral to the JLP. The ability to call out lies is also part of that freedom.
Tajai Grant
12/8/2011 - 12:18 PM
So stupid, so stupid. My humble advise to Andrew Holiness is leave the media alone and stop being stupid.
Adam Godson
12/8/2011 - 11:40 AM
There might br truth to what the PM says.Traditionally,media,church,public sector groups e.g. JTA, have been pro pnp.
@wanda woeman,I don't get people like you.How can you in a piece this critical of the PM be saying he will not be challenged by the media?Who is fawning over the PM?The herald?
@nervous investor,you said it well
@D,r. McIntyre it is indeed laughable.The media is always running about,trying to play the victim.
12/8/2011 - 11:10 AM
The press should not so much be blamed for taking sides as it should for ignoring data and presenting the writer's own opinions instead. Especially when the opinions are seriously flawed. A case in point is the article that references nationwide polls in another paper today. Does anyone know why Roger is always eating rice?
12/8/2011 - 10:58 AM
AH is trying to do damage control with the media.You dont see the real AH yet.
D, r. McIntyre
12/8/2011 - 10:17 AM
This is laughable, the media can dished it out, but they cannot take it, weird eh, A journalist at this paper wrote an article about a young man, the way she described him, I didn't like it, so I asked her why, and if she have a son, she wrote me an email telling me where I should go, etc, etc. Still have the email as evidence. My point
is why is the media so thin skin. Campbell, you can call all your international brothers and sisters in the media, they are seeing straight through you.
Kevin Williams
12/8/2011 - 9:51 AM
If persons are of the opionion that a particular media outlet is being biased, why shouldn't they criticize them? The President of the USA criticize Fox news and I do not recall hearing persons crying out that this was a threat on there democracy. However, what is threat of our democracy is a failure on us to hold the media accountable and report the facts and not distort it to pursue a partsian agenda.
Alessandro Ferrari
12/8/2011 - 9:41 AM
Is the Prime Minister trying to scare away the media from the meetings so that the rest of Jamaica does not know what is happening? A man like this scares me as i think of what he is capable of if he wins the election. First he quoted things that were not facts so that makes him a not truthful person and then he bashes the media. I was willing to give him a chance but after summarizing everything, I think I will vote PNP! Media people, be very careful and protect yourselves!
0o k
12/8/2011 - 9:31 AM
Jamaica Media cannot have it every kind of way it likes. To attack, but not be countered, fact check but not be interrogated.
Fact is the media in this country have presented all Politicians as untrustworthy, gang members who are trying to get to powder to plunder State resources.
It has rendered the performance of all GOJs to zero without fine distinctions.
All of this while employing the opinions of the very Gang Members. Jamaican media has not distinguished itself street rabble.
nervous investor
12/8/2011 - 9:22 AM
I watched Prince Andrew's speech in Mandeville on the TV .... I saw nothing wrong with what he said regarding the media, I thought that he was most delicate on the topic ..... the partisan leaning of the media has been of long standing. Can anyone else remember how far gone the JBC was in the 1970s? These days the partisans in the media are slightly more careful in their choice of words but their intent is quite clear none the less. Who is fooling whom?
Justin Wright
12/8/2011 - 7:57 AM
PM by default has not fully grasp that his position is interpreted by what he said. He has shown clear weaknesses that are not leader-like. He will have many problems in months to come if he wins.Many of Jamaica's commercial enemies sees an opportunity when Jamaica falls from top shelf in strong leadership.and since this decline began with Bruce many steps have been taken against Jam. Internationally Jamaicans are very proud, so when asked about PM, they lost that fire of being proud, no substan
wanda woeman
12/8/2011 - 7:47 AM
We have reactionary PM who boasts about being no nonsense because he knows that he will not be challenged by a fawning and cowed press. First he only “took action” when his government was outed by Mrs. PM-E and the C.G, when he himself blocked the issue as Leader of Government Business. Now we have him and his Government “committed to press freedom and ensuring the safety of journalists,” only after the PAJ cautioned him about inflammatory statements against them from his election platforms. But it was not only on election platforms. IT WAS INITIATED BY HIM.
ghost rider
12/8/2011 - 7:32 AM
Yes, new and different and represents the new thinking of the party. Away with the old. During the Jurassic age we never had a P.M going on a platform and attacking journalists and incensing a crowd in their presence. What if the mob had turned on them and done them harm which could easily have happened? Another young man in the party led the charge and he jumped in, instead of chiding the usually hotheaded Vaz who knew it was alright because he was only following the example of the boss set on Sunday night.
The PAJ has taken AH to task, what do YOU say Observer? Your cartoon says it all.