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Press Freedom is critical to nation building

Press Freedom is critical to nation building

As we recognize World Press Freedom Day and celebrate the fact that Jamaica has moved up two places in the global ranking, we must commend the efforts of our hard working journalists and media personnel to keep our people informed and hold our government’s feet to the fire. The People’s National Party has a record of being supportive of a free, fair and vibrant press.

It is a vision which guided our action to liberalize the media landscape several years ago. As we shape a new vision for Jamaica, one that is equitable and works for all, we urge our local press to continue to safeguard the interests of freedom of expression and balance reporting as key elements to our democracy.

We hear the concerns from the Press Association of Jamaica about issues surrounding the Access to Information Act. As I have indicated, the PNP, under my leadership will not condone, in any shape or form, acts of corruption: and transparency will be at the forefront of any government I lead. In what is emerging as a ‘post-truth era of fake news’, Jamaica must guard against any branding of the local Press as ‘fake’ as such pronouncements can never be good for a thriving democracy but only serve to diminish the pillars of truth, transparency and the relationship of cooperation and trust that our society and successive leaders of government and the press have toiled and fought to build.

The Press is a complex mechanism with many facets. At times it is a megaphone in the town square, it also works as the ‘watch dog’ of truth, a bastion of transparency and accountability in governance and is the channel through which factual and reliable information flows to the citizenry. For Jamaica to thrive, we must have an informed citizenry and we must endeavour to rid our nation of corruption at every level. Every Jamaican has the right to participate in and benefit from the national discourse, and live and work and raise their families in a country that offers progress to all, not just to a few.