July 16, 2020

Gregory & Munroe at World Press Freedom Day


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44583trevour_monroe_300Bishop calls for free press with guts

From Jamaican Gleaner

Anglican Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Rt Rev Dr Howard Gregory, is suggesting that the media have more to offer.

“While we expect the media to be truthful in reflecting what is happening in our midst, I submit that the journalistic community has a significant role to play in the shaping of our society,” he said. Gregory said the view that media only reflect what is going on is a cop-out.

“If the journalistic community is simply going to reflect the dynamics and values of society, then we are in deep trouble.” Speaking at the World Press Freedom Day Forum at The Knutsford Court Hotel on Thursday, Bishop Gregory said a spirit of individualism is permeating societies and institutions of governance and commerce are taking more control over citizens’ lives. He said there seems to be no exploration of the values which are informing the decisions being made and the extent they influence society’s choices.

“It seems to me it will take a free press with guts, as well as institutions of civil society to educate the population and expose these areas of our national life,” he said.

Bureaucracy blocking growth

He noted the ineffective bureaucratic system that hinders the country’s growth.

“I believe our journalists can help us through persistent exposure to transform the system that has become an albatross around the neck of our people and our productive abilities.” He acknowledged there were factors seeking to muzzle the press but understood the rights of citizens to be protected from defamation.

“It does appear that there are situations in which the threat of prosecution can serve to restrain the media,” he said. “I am also aware of the fact that the ownership of the press and various media outlets raise serious questions regarding the level of bias and sectional interests which these may represent.”

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Photo: Executive Director of the National Integrity Action, Professor Trevor Munroe (left) with Anglican Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Rev Howard Gregory.

See also following from Go-Jamaica

Continue to disappoint wrong-doers – Munroe

By Damion Mitchell, Editor – Radio & Online

On the 20th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, Jamaican stakeholders have urged members of the media to continue their pursuit to unearth the truth and root out corruption.

“Continue to disappoint the wrong-doers who rest their hope that any major wrongdoing will be a nine-day wonder,” said Professor Trevor Munroe, the executive director of the National Integrity Action, during a special Press Association of Jamaica breakfast forum in Kingston this morning.

World Press Freedom Day is being recognised under the theme: Safe to speak: Securing freedom of expression in all media.

Munroe said in as much as Jamaica has seen improvements in its press freedom rankings, press freedom should not be taken for granted.

Chairman of the Media Association of Jamaica, Christopher Barnes, also urged the media to continue to seek to expose corruption.

He praised the media, however, for the work they have been doing.

“We have some of the finest journalists in the world and our media houses are all dedicated to maintaining transparency in our public affairs,” said Barnes who is also the managing director of The Gleaner.

“My litmus test of how well we are doing is the many complaints of bias which swings like a pendulum with administrations and political parties.”

Earlier, Richard Powell, the president and CEO of Victoria Mutual Building Society also issued a charge to the media.

“You have been doing a credible job, but you must continue to press for information that hasn’t been forthcoming,” he said.

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Another related story from Jamaica Observer

Anglican bishop says Gov’t will do nothing about Tivoli report

Don’t hold your breath!

By Ingrid Brown

ANGLICAN Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands Rev Dr Howard Gregory says Jamaicans should not hold their breath that the Portia Simpson Miller-led Government will act on the recommendations coming out of the Public Defender’s report on the Tivoli Gardens incursion.

“I believe there are many who are salivating right now believing the Government is going to act in relation to the Tivoli matter to embarrass the Opposition, but don’t hold your breath because the complicity factor operates on the same ‘knife that jook goat…’,” Gregory said as he addressed the Press Association of Jamaica’s World Press Freedom Day Breakfast Forum held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, yesterday.

Dr Gregory also waded in on the recent controversy surrounding state minister Richard Azan who, it is purported, contracted the building of shops at the Spaldings Market without the permission of the Clarendon Parish Council and allowed a staff at his constituency office to collect rent on behalf of the contractor.

He added: “The attempt to play partisan game and one-upmanship with that situation I find repugnant because after all the talk about corruption it is still very much alive in the public service and is being treated as something over which political parties can have little skirmishes before an incredulous nation.”

Dr Gregory, who touched on a myriad of social issues during his address, said the educative role of journalists has been made more complicated by the politicisation of every issue in national life and the attempt to pigeon-hole anyone who would speak on issues that have a clear political dimension. This, he argued, makes the work of the journalist one of walking a tightrope.

“I believe it is also a strategy of complicity which those in party politics have used to render any serious reflection on political activities and political misconduct impotent,” said the Anglican bishop.

The ‘informer fi dead’ culture, he said, is part of a multicultural context in which the power of the gun and threat of violence are used to silence any dissent within communities. This, he said, made it difficult not only to solve crimes but was hard for journalists hoping to glean information as they will not only run up against a wall of silence as they attempt to expose wrongdoing but may also become the object of violence.

However, even as he urged journalists to be truthful in reflecting what is happening in the society and ferret out and expose corruption, Gregory said the journalistic community has a significant role to play.

He noted that it takes a free press with guts as well as institutions of civil society to educate the population and development in various areas of national life.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the National Integrity Action (NIA) Professor Trevor Munroe said the mission of all who are committed to building integrity and combating corruption required the support of a free press.

Persons committed to this process, he added, required the fullest engagement with the media in the interest of enhancing transparency, demanding accountability and challenging the impunity of authorities who, in too many countries including our own, act as if they are above the law.

“You (the Jamaican press) continue to place Jamaica in the top 10 per cent globally often ahead of the US and the UK when it comes to press freedom and this top ranking is in keeping with extraordinary talents of Jamaicans,” the NIA chairman said.

“But it must not be taken for granted and must be safeguarded and strengthened, especially in these times because there are so many in high places who complain and who push back when the exercise of this freedom makes the powerful uncomfortable,” he said.

“[The] NIA urges you, encourages you and in fact demands that you continue to disappoint the wrongdoers who rest their hope that any major wrongdoing will be a nine-day wonder,” Munroe said.

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