Today we are 30 years: Thank you, Jamaica!

PEOPLE who know the history of Jamaican newspapers will forgive us for a bit of self-indulgence as we celebrate our 30th anniversary today.

We are indeed proud that since the first publication of the Jamaica Observer on March 7, 1993 we have not missed a single publication date and have remained true to the pledge of our late chairman, Mr Gordon "Butch" Stewart, that the Jamaica Observer would stand the test of time and play a vital role in helping to chart the way forward by our unwavering commitment to the ideals of free expression, democracy, and fairness in reporting.

Older Jamaicans will readily agree that this country is a veritable graveyard for newspapers. Many will recall the birth of the Jamaica Daily News in 1973 and the immense sense of excitement at the advent of a second daily newspaper. Unfortunately, five years later the Daily News was enmeshed in the political turmoil of the times and its private sector owners pulled stumps.

That resulted in the then Government acquiring the newspaper on grounds that Jamaica must not be allowed to go back to a "one-newspaper" country and to save the jobs of journalists. But the Daily News became mired in politics and, after the change of Government in 1980, the cash-strapped paper was eventually declared insolvent and shuttered in April 1983.

Not long after, the cry for another newspaper grew louder as Jamaica was growing in sophistication, the world was getting more complex, and it was clear there was need for a broader and deeper understanding of the direction in which mankind was heading. This against the backdrop of grinding poverty in two-thirds of the world, environmental degradation, economic inequities, trade imbalances, and the fallout from the Cold War.

In 1985 a group of businessmen, drawn together by Mr Mark Ricketts, founded the country's third daily, the Jamaica Record. Unfortunately, that effort didn't last very long and in 1987 a new venture, in the form of the Jamaica Herald, came to the fore. However, like the dailies and weeklies before it, the Jamaica Herald folded.

As Jamaica reverted to a one-newspaper country a coincidence of fate in a common vision emerged about the same time in the minds of Mr Stewart, known for his successful investments in tourism and business, and Workers' Bank boss Mr Delroy Lindsay.

Both men were brought together by Dr George Phillip (now deceased), who also introduced them to Mr Ken Gordon, the Trinidadian media mogul, and from that common vision the Jamaica Observer was born — first as a weekly and then becoming the fourth daily newspaper in modern Jamaica on December 11, 1994.

The early days were both tough and exciting, but the staff embraced each moment with a fixity of purpose, determined to keep Jamaicans informed and offer an alternative outlet for views and other forms of expression.

But even as we acknowledge the commitment of our team members, we dare not neglect the tremendous support of our large number of loyal readers, here and abroad, as well as our advertisers who have demonstrated their belief in the printed, digital and electronic products we offer daily, thus ensuring our survival.

Thank you, Jamaica, for allowing us to serve you for three decades. Today, under our new Executive Chairman Mr Adam Stewart, we take the first step on the journey to the next 30 years and beyond.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at


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