Freedom of Expression is particularly Expensive

       The state of Jamaica’s state media is a reputable one. Jamaica is internationally recognised as a sovereignty which encourages freedom of expression via any desired medium. As President Obama stated in his recent ‘working-visit’, “No one should face criminal prosecution for their right to expression, especially under democratic political arrangements.” He alluded to the fact that such situations, though not culturally specific, still exist in a more open world and open global economy. “Countries which persecute public or private expressions of freedom are to be educated into progressive change rather than secluded,” the President further stated. Several Democratic and non-democratic nations, whether autocratic or otherwise, supply information to their public throught state controlled television, radio and tabloids. This practice predates the original and principal publications of the printed press, but natives should have the freedom also to choose from which medium to have his/her news delivered to him/her. Authorities partaking in orchestrating the flow of information compel journalists to conform to their economic or political agendas and I do commend brave, rebellious journalists, employed or independent. However, some exaggerate their capacities to an insulting extent. Freedom is relative but is certainly not a one-way avenue and certainly applies to how citizens, nationally and internationally are informed about day-to-day happenings in close or distant proximity. Repetition is a key tactic used to en drench the minds of the public with misinformation, however, with the introduction of technological innovations like the internet, consumers can now choose and refuse how they are to be informed. The more celebrated news agencies are not exempt from exhibiting similar brainwashing strategies as mentioned, although their superiors might have no say in the matter.
       Do not misconstrue my sentiment toward state influenced media. It does not have to be a ghastly ordeal, if conducted with a measure of moderation. In Jamaica, the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), accepts the responsibility of educating and entertaining the public on a day-to-day basis of topics ranging across the board. It is a viable option for the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) and its underlinings to effectively communicate with the public as a whole. The implications of being updated by the political electorate as the sole source of information are self-explanatory. Members of these parliamentary ascended might even be defendants in criminal or constitutional lawsuits, details not privy to the wider public. To blindly entrust more than your legislative representation but also your educational fuel injection is absolutely absurd, considering said representatives mainly represent themselves and their interests. Citizens of the world entered the world with access to information as a basic human right; even though several handcuffed professions have emerged henceforward, I am afraid it has become an individual responsibility to seek and find accurate information. If history has taught us anything, it is that the truth can be stretched far enough to fabricate a new truth.
       I am of the view that the most prominent media houses in Jamaica suffer from a deficiency of essential informative vitamins which do not always exist on the surface. These bits and pieces of information are much rather like minerals existing deep beneath the mantle which need unearthing, mining and then some. I will avoid being label specific but not of their lazy approaches to delivering accurate local and international news. People from all walks of life, of varying professions and circumstances experience successes and challenges daily. It is not only milestones, redundancies and deaths which need to be announced. The notion of investigative journalism seems endangered, if not already extinct. Whatever is physically visible or occurs should not be the only thing writers or videographers can relay. Like crooked politicians and policemen, reporters often seek to expose and utilize their talents towards their networks and interests. Working in the field of media has taught me how important, if it was not previously transparent, punctuality is. Editorials, magazines and newspapers collectively rely on precise publishing along with taped broadcasts and prime time airings. I believe that in a scramble to meet the appropriate deadlines, our custodians of communication have been and still are omitting crucial information on a daily basis. When amassed, conceptualize all the overlooked information we may be oblivious to. As opposed to sitting behind a desk, in an office, on the ground reporting has always been the most fruitfully productive whilst maintaining source anonymity.
        The Government of Jamaica proudly boasts of its role in Jamaica being highly ranked among the list of countries with gender based equality as well as freedom of expression. Prejudice is seemingly frowned upon wherever highlighted and sanctioned. I used the word seemingly in the previous statement to underscore how thin the frown lines may be meanwhile the occurrences of discrimination are frequent enough for a permanent frown to be worn. A few notable examples include: artistes speaking against homosexuality through the creative and performing arts, practitioners and lecturers of science being silenced by forced resignations and journalists being manhandled, accosted, arrested and restricted interrogatingly. I perceive that both those being featured in newscasts and those conducting the interviews have etiquette to adhere to.  Wherein either of those parties’ human rights are breached, sanctions should follow suit. Specific to investigative journalism, I can remember several established programmes, encompassing: Your Issues Live, All Angles, Hotline and Live at 7. Sponsored Outside Broadcasts are a prevalent practice as well seeing media personalities directly interacting with commuters and their everyday activities. The RJR Cross Country Road Invasion is a much wider series of such events hosted by the RJR Communications Group.
          With all this being said, I conclude by charging our various information media to be bold and more probing as seen in the past. Approach reporting critical information with harder hands-on tactics, with critical being relative to what is relevant and current. I understand that this hilly and mountainous island poses a significant challenge with regard to accomplishing such tasks but as coverage becomes more accessible, so does the possibility of thorough Media. Media Houses ought to appropriately equip their employees towards their specialized niches. Much more in depth extraction, production and analysis can and should be done of the vital information to the very last second. Much of what a person consumes determines their reactions and also who they are. Whether reporters are conscious of the essential roles they play in that or not, married to the profession is certainly a responsibility to curb that in the right direction as they would an accelerated vehicle.

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