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Journalists set to pray, party and reflect

2019 National Journalism Week begins today

Sunday, November 17, 2019

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The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) will start observation of the 2019 National Journalism Week with a church service before moving into several other events to reflect on, and celebrate, the work of local journalists over the past year.

The PAJ is using the week to conduct a review of the media's role and function in democracy, with the theme for this year being: Advancing Democracy — Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”

“The week will include an interesting and engaging series of activities and events. Additionally, the theme acknowledges the crucial role that the media plays in a healthy democracy,” said PAJ president, George Davis.

Today the PAJ will begin with the traditional church service, which is being held this year at the Saxthorpe Methodist Church, 143 Constant Spring Road, St Andrew starting at 9:00 am.

The PAJ's increasingly popular public forum will focus on the topic 'Is the News too Negative?' at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, on Monday, starting at 6:00 pm. This is free and open to the public.

“We thought it critical to look at this issue because we have heard the complaints from our audience,” said Davis.

He added that the PAJ, “cares about what the public has to say about the work that we do. Therefore, we want to engage them on this issue, and to hear their suggestions”.

The main speakers at the forum will be recently appointed editor-in-chief at the Gleaner Company, Kaymar Jordan and social commentator Jaevion Nelson.

Jordan is an award- winning journalist with more than 20 years' experience, while Nelson is a social commentator and executive director of the Equality for All Jamaica Foundation.

The public forum is being sponsored by the British High Commission, The Canadian embassy, National Integrity Action and Jamaica Broilers Group of Companies.

In a release to mark the week the British and Canadian High Commissions in Jamaica reiterated that media freedom remains a cornerstone of all functioning democracies.

Globally, both the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada currently lead the campaign to defend media freedom and improve the safety of journalists who report across the world.

While acknowledging that media in Jamaica enjoys a high degree of freedom, both high commissioners have cautioned against complacency and stressed the significance of a free media to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“It is a key component of our diplomacy, including global advocacy for respect of the right to freedom of opinion and expression which can support advancements in good governance and stronger accountability for institutions,” said Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica Laurie Peters.

Her British counterpart, High Commissioner Asif Ahmad reasoned that while journalism in Jamaica can be traced back further than 185 years ago, media now ranges from multiple platforms under one corporate entity to an individual blogger, with both having the capability to reach global audiences.

“Vested interests use the same space to promote their own messages. At times, false information dressed up as news is competing for attention and challenging the credibility of the entire profession.

“A functioning democracy needs media freedom. There is a need for legitimate channels to get across political messages from government, as well as opposition politicians. Advocacy groups and concerned citizens rely on the media for information and space to build support for their causes,” said Ahmad.

“Jamaica has an excellent reputation in the world for media freedom and Canada and the United Kingdom are working together to build a coalition of nations to preserve and extend the free press,” added Ahmad as he urged the Jamaican Government to accept an invitation to be the first Caribbean country to join the Media Freedom Coalition.

On Tuesday the PAJ team will travel to Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester before moving to the University of the West Indies Western Campus in Montego Bay, St James, on Wednesday, for more discussions on the topic of is the news too negative.

The PAJ's annual Veterans' Luncheon will also be held on Wednesday, November 20.

“We are happy to announce that this year we will be honouring Elise Kelly, senior broadcaster at IRIE-FM; Headley “Dellmar” Samuels, sports photographer; Enthrose Campbell, acting deputy CEO at the Jamaica Information Service; and Balford Henry, senior journalist at the Jamaica Observer,” said PAJ assistant secretary Karen Madden.

The week will end with the National Journalism Awards at Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston on Saturday.

“It is important for us to recognise and celebrate the good work that is being done in [Jamaican] journalism. Overall, we're looking forward to a great week,” declared Davis.


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