Holness takes swipe at press

PM urges supporters to look to his social media pages for factual news

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness took a “Trump-like” swipe at the Jamaican traditional media Sunday night as he urged hundreds of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters to look to social media for accurate news.

United States President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised some well-established traditional media houses which he has accused of reporting “fake news”, and while he never went that far, Holness, the leader of the JLP, declared that not everything presented by the traditional media is factual.

“I was just listening to the news before I came here, and you know the news report is the news report; I make no comment on the opinions proffered by journalists, because that is the freedom of the society. They can take whatever stance they want to take because it's free media. It doesn't have to be the truth. It doesn't have to relate to the facts, [because] it is their opinion.

“What you have to understand, as persons consuming the news, is that not all the things that are presented to you are the facts or are the truth,” Holness told mostly green-clad supporters at Tivoli Gardens Community Centre during the party's West Kingston Annual Constituency Conference.

Holness told his supporters that they have other alternatives to what is presented as news by the traditional media.

“You can go on social media. You can go on my page… all my social media pages, the party pages. You have so much news opportunities to keep informed, you don't have to rely on one particular medium for information, or commentary, or opinion,” added Holness as he pointed to reports in the media that the states of public emergency (SOEs) are not working.

“I wonder whether or not they have conducted an analysis. It is not their duty. They can just give you their perspective, because that's how it is with a free press. It is my duty to point out to you certain facts. If they are correct, then thank God they did. If they don't, then I have to keep saying it and use other methods of getting the information to you,” said Holness.

The prime minister argued that the SOEs are very targeted and respectful of the rights of Jamaicans.

He said imposing the SOEs was necessary because criminals have become entrenched in the society, with crime and violence becoming a culture which is epidemic.

“When we were at 63 murders per 100,000 in 2017, we couldn't leave it like that. We had to do something to fix it, and when we put in place those measures we brought down the murder rate per 100,000 to 43,” said Holness as he defended the SOEs.

“Had we the support to continue those measures from January 2019 to April 2019, today we would probably be about 30 per 100,000,” added Holness, who charged that the SOE is an effective tool in the fight against crime.

“I'm not saying it is the only tool, but it is the tool that we can deploy with speed and with great results immediately,” he said.


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