Wha pass fi news a Jamaica

Note to the reader: This this the first is a series of posts on the many deficiencies of the Jamaican media that I will undertake, especially focusing on the failures of the print media in Jamaica. Below is an email sent to the editor at the Sunday Gleaner. Of course it was harshly critical so they didn’t publish it.

The email text is published unaltered; thus please note that the the assertion that “truth is an absolute defense” while true in New York is apparently not true in Jamaica or England. Pictures and links available on his blogging platform have been recently added to the post. 

As I read the Sunday Gleaner’s lead story on Sun Feb 10th (“Police back auto theft ring“) I couldn’t help but bristle in anger at the incomplete innuendo that passes as news coverage in Jamaica’s media. Dawn Ritch’s criticisms of Jamaican press in the same issue (“Leave libel laws alone“) was made even more potent by the glaring omissions in this article. Where are the names, the concrete evidence, and dates needed to corroborate the story? Where is the arrest of the culpable individuals?

Former UK PM Tony Blair

More and more all the articles in the major daily papers from Jamaica read like the Thursday Talk column, offering nothing more than a dance of the seven veils and in the end reveal nothing — ostensibly due to tough libel laws. The fact is that Jamaica’s libel laws are based on the British system and we can use the internet to see the way in which similar scandals are covered by the BBC,and other stalwart members of their media. So vigilant is the British press that, having already announced his intention to demit public office, Tony Blair bitterly compared them to “feral beasts.” Yet surely if Blair had a case with merit, the Oxford trained barrister would have brought it. We can see therefore that tough libel laws are not an impediment to the revelation of facts that are objectively verifiable – truth is an absolute defense. So why is the Jamaican media – both print and broadcast – so afraid to speak the truth and shame the devil?

Recently in the Dutch media we saw the explosive impact that a hidden camera investigation had on the Natalie Holloway case — is it that hidden cameras don’t work in the Jamaican climate? In America the press dredges up bombshell investigations that reveal abuses from the Watergate scandal to Abu Ghraib. All of this serves to make the cowardice of the Jamaican press more pronounced. The silence of the Jamaican media make it complicit in every case of public graft and political murder taking place today. Your silence is consent!

Dwight Dunkley, New York City

Jamaica is now beset by the feral beast of crime and violence which is a serious threat to the economic development and political stability in Jamaica. I’d rather have reporters be feral beasts ripping politicians to shreds than the current situation.

We need some undercover confessions Jamaica – Cliff Hughes, may be the only one with the cojones to even try.





3 thoughts on “Wha pass fi news a Jamaica

  1. Good post — I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis here. However, you are most – perhaps too – gracious in offering our journalists and media houses the benefit of the doubt. My dear, these poor excuses for journalists don’t need libel laws anymore than our local citizen-mobs need the sodomy laws to justify their conduct. Most of the journalists and reporters simply don’t know any better; they don’t even bother to read news accounts from anywhere else — even in the region. And when they do pay attention, they use the lens of that most distinctive of Jamaican attitudes — blind arrogance — to dismiss all other accounts as worthless verbiage. In this vein, I was complaining about the very issues you raise here to a long-time journalist; her response was telling, and I quote: “the problem is that the word HUBRIS has become the raison d’etre for too many of my young colleagues and PENNY PINCHING the motif of media owners. Together, they make a deadly combination – and we’re all the poorer for it.” After reading stories about the same issue in both the Gleaner and the NYTimes, I complained to the senior editor from the Gleaner who had written the article. She responded – with not an iota of self-awareness, mind you – that the content or quality didn’t matter much to her. What mattered was that I had read it; my complaint became a useful piece of data to justify market share, nothing more.

    Better trained journalists and more independent print media which builds their reputation on quality reportage — those are the only immediate ways out of this morass of trash news. What we haven’t even touched yet are the ethical implications of the failure to provide accurate and indepth reportage on crime. Yes, ethics. Imagine that!

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