Sun | Aug 20, 2017

The objectivity of media in elections

Published:Sunday | February 7, 2016 | 2:00 AM

The election scheduled for February 25 has predictably has begun to dominate the discourse in the society. Most of the information to which we are exposed comes through the media.

Very few persons are sufficiently close to the candidates or the parties to have an independent filter for what is offered to the population. Think for a moment about this grouping called media and what it is that they disseminate to us. Is there any objectivity?

There is no screen for the bias, alleged or real, that comes with their information. Some media practitioners are obviously unapologetic purveyors of a particular slant. There are few media practitioners who have attained credibility over time, by the standards they have upheld and displayed. I am prepared to list few persons who, in making reports, would have a presumption of credibility in their reporting. Gary Spaulding, Dionne Jackson-Miller and Earl Moxam always begin with a lot of credibility. Some of the others are political hacks that masquerade as independent and balanced, but when you listen or read, they stretch their interpretation of balance and independence.

Let me make it quite clear that, as a media practitioner, when you publicise your affinity, allegiance or association with a particular party or political personality, you are exercising a fundamental right. I should hope that this electorate will be able to resist the call of the siren and not be led as lambs, dumb to the slaughter.

In this regard, I hope those organising the proposed debates will make public the criteria used in the selection of the journalists who will be invited to participate. Their political memberships and affiliations must be laid bare.

A quick recall of the impasse between Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly in the USA provides an insight into how not to allow the deterioration of the event. In Jamaica, we have media personalities floating in and out between duties for a political party or political personality and then rejoining the media. These same persons occupy memberships in political organisations and serve as political appointees to government boards and ministries. Where is the objectivity?

This country gets most of its news in the non-print format, hence the popular phrase, 'if you want to hide something from Jamaicans, write it'. Those of us who are aware should filter and monitor the media.

Note which stories lead the newscast and how the comments are slanted. Note the political personalities who are always invited to give their opinion. Note those in the media who are always purveyors of the paid outside broadcasts that is political in nature.

I do not recall that the opposition roadshow, 'Poverty to Prosperity', was widely carried by multiple radio stations. There can be no reasons for this, but you, the listening public, must begin the process of association.

 

MADNESS OF SDA CHURCH

 

The Seventh-day Adventist denomi-nation has now engaged in the censorship of political expression. The actions of the pastor, Dr Michael Harvey, in Half-Way Tree Square has drawn sanctions by the denomination. I find it quite disturbing that, among other things, this denomination would seek to impose itself on a citizen's fundamental rights to freedom of association and expression of thought, especially if it is done publicly.

One must wonder what else this denomination would do outside the areas of faith and doctrinaire submission. This very act would mean so many negative things for this society that one must now begin to become more alert to the members of this denomination holding offices of public appointment.

What is the process by which the Seventh-day Adventists come to approve the holding of the office of governor general, of the now dissolved Senate and member-ship on the Electoral Commission, to name a few. This should be of grave concern to all Jamaicans as the Seventh-day Adventist is the largest religious organisation in Jamaica.

Are they going to make it contrary to church policy for their members to be involved in the political life of Jamaica? The Church needs to be aware that this country will never voluntarily and peacefully be led to becoming a theocracy.

It would be interesting to learn what the basis for the sanction placed on Dr Harvey is. I am not acquainted in any way with Dr Harvey, but I am leery when organised religion starts infringing on one's constitutional rights, as recorded in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.