PAJ urges media houses to put people at centre of digital adaptation
PAJ President George Davis

Noting that local media houses are increasingly downsizing their workforce in the digital age, the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) is lamenting the impact the development is having on the industry and is urging entities to put people first as they seek to adapt to the changing environment.

The PAJ made the statement Tuesday in recognition of World Press Freedom Day, which is this year being observed under the theme, ‘Journalism under digital siege’.

It said journalists in Jamaica are struggling to cope in the current environment.

“Since the start of the pandemic, some of our members have lost their jobs; men and women dispensed with and replaced with one human, an internet connection and multiple mobile computing devices,” the PAJ said.

The PAJ indicated that, in addition to affecting livelihoods, the development is negatively impacting quality.

“Some colleagues, who are on the photography and videography side of the business, have lost their stable jobs. These persons are rarely spoken about. For the sake of survival they are forced into freelancing arrangements that lack the health insurance and other secure benefits that are mandatory in a full time job attachment,” the PAJ said, adding that “Companies seek to replace them with poorly recruited and trained interns who, with the benefit of editing software, are required to produce work of a quality equal to what one would reasonably expect from someone of deep experience.”

The PAJ noted that many businesses in other sectors, faced with similar pressure in the digital age, “are keeping people at the centre of their adaptation.”

It added, “It is a principle the PAJ wants local media entities to adopt”, noting that it has collaborated with the US Embassy in Kingston in the digital training of journalists across media houses.

“This is the kind of effort the PAJ wants to encourage among media houses in these troubled times. We believe it sensible to first think of how you can train your staff to deliver the innovations necessary to keep the business alive,” the PAJ said

“In this digital age that course of action must be taken before the entity harbours any thought of laying siege to the livelihoods of journalists and the vocation of journalism, through the use of that most unimaginative and ‘blunt force’ of tools called downsizing.”

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