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Media workers must better monitor their health, says Gager - Jackson Miller returns as PAJ president

Published:Monday | September 26, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

Wyvolyn Gager, former Gleaner editor-in-chief, yesterday charged journalists to make time, despite their hectic work schedules, to attend to personal health issues before it is too late.

"A lot of people don't go to any doctor. They don't check anything, and then one day they find out that they are hypertensive, they have low blood sugar, they have all kinds of issues, and we don't take care of ourselves because we are doing the work," Gager lamented during yesterday's annual general meeting of the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) at its St Andrew headquarters.

"The work comes first and we have to do the work and we can't go see the doctor because we have to do the work."

Her comments came three days after the death of 39-year-old Ingrid Brown, associate editor for special assignment at The Observer, who succumbed to an autoimmune condition, which affected her liver, at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

However, Gager said this "burning issue" was triggered by the deaths of senior Gleaner journalists Gary Spaulding and Glenroy Sinclair, within hours of each other, in June.

Sinclair suffered a heart attack on the job, while Spaulding suffered a similar event at home.




"I started thinking about the way we do not take care of ourselves in journalism," Gager shared with her colleagues.

"We work long hours, and I am wondering if this committee could start something where you get people to do their blood checks. I think there has to be some kind of intervention - one day, some time during the year - where we invite the relevant health agencies and we have a health fair and we do all these checks and we try and follow up."

In the meantime, broadcast journalist Dionne Jackson Miller was given the mandate to lead the umbrella organisation for journalists for a second two-year term, returning unopposed as president.

She identified a thorough review of the way the access to information process works as a priority item for her administration.

"We've been getting lots of concerns from media workers about how it operates and the barriers they go through in terms of trying to get the information. We want to look at some way in which the PAJ can get more information on that and see if we need to lobby for change," the returning president promised.

Michelle Wilson Reynolds is the new first vice-president; Karen Madden beat back the challenge of Vashan Brown to become second vice-president; while Ceila Morgan was returned unopposed as treasurer.

Archibald Gordon was elected secretary and will have Karen Findlay as his assistant. The five directors are Vashan Brown, Helene Coley-Nicholson, Christene King, Audley Boyd, and Milton Walker.