Clergyman says press needs divine intervention to help uncover truth

Observer staff reporter

Monday, November 19, 2018

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Pastor of the Tarrant Baptist Church in Kingston, Rev Jeffrey Shuttleworth has declared that the Jamaican news media need divine intervention to help uncover the truth as technology alone will not help.

The minister, during his sermon yesterday at the National Journalism Week Church Service at Tarrant Baptist Church, said despite the pervasiveness of technology, technology by itself is not effective in uncovering the truth behind all the various things that are happening, and that it is God who will reveal the truth through the Holy Spirit.

“It is through this divine revelation from God that we will be able to get behind why so many of our children are reported missing every year. It is through that divine revelation that we will be able to get beyond the many layers that protect corrupt individuals in our society and nations,” he said to a lively congregation.

“It is through divine revelation that we will be able get the truth behind the NIDS (National Identification System) that is being forced on the society at this time. And it is through divine revelation that the press will be able to see the truth, to discover the truth, query, and present it to the people so that they can act in ways that are in their best interest,” Rev Shuttleworth said.

According to the minister, some truth may be relative, but the real truth is one that is consistent from the beginning to the middle, right to the end.

At the same time, he said the press has a vital role to play in a healthy democracy, and that democracy without a free, fair and fearless press is like a vehicle without wheels.

“A free, fair and fearless press plays a critical role in ensuring that every Jamaican has constant access to important and trustworthy news. The free flow of information to the public is essential in preserving our democracy. In addition to educating and reporting — the press serves as the public watchdog charged with keeping Government, businesses and other organisation, including the very church, accountable.”

“A free, fair and fearless press not only provides an avenue for citizens to gain access to power brokers within the society and world, but inspires social change and uncovers corruption while analysing and providing the context for major global events,” he said.

“A free and fair press, under God, is one of the most effective mechanisms of not only guarding and preserving democracy, but also in preventing tyranny and totalitarianism from being visited upon our people and nation,” added the clergyman.

At the same time, he said a free, fair and fearless press must, at the very least, fear God because the fear of God is the beginning of true wisdom.

President of the Press Association of Jamaican (PAJ) George Davis, while highlighting this year's theme for the National Journalism Week — Zealously guarding press freedom, stated that press freedom is under threat and must be protected.

“The PAJ has benefited from technology as it has allowed us to reach more people, but it has also allowed the space in which we are operating to be infiltrated by people who are spreading fake news,” he said.

“We are in the age when press freedom, as we know it, is under threat, as every man and woman who has a smartphone and access to the Internet is now a reporter, and that muddies the water and [serves to damage] the credibility in which we work,” Davis told the Jamaica Observerafter the service.

The new PAJ president also told the Observerthat for his presidential term he will be focusing on offering more workshop and training for media workers in business and financial reporting as well as political reporting, because there is gap in those areas which are not being addressed by news entities because of financial constraints.

He said the PAJ has already secured funding and partnership with organisations which will be assisting in the training sessions next year.

Other activities for the Journalism Week will include a forum today at Jamaica Pegasus hotel discussing the topic: 'Do you still need traditional news and sport'; a veteran's luncheon on Wednesday, where four veteran journalists will be recognised; and the National Journalism Awards ceremony on Saturday.

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