Below is a message from Jenni Campbell, president of the Press Association of Jamaica, in recognition of National Journalism Week, which is being observed December 2-8.
WE RECOGNISE the role of the press in Jamaica as a high calling; in fact, at the heart of what journalists do is to interface with the public and provide them with a megaphone, through technology and our various media platforms, we give access to the national dialogue.
Through information and discussions we seek change.
We ask questions of public officials on behalf of our brothers and sisters who would not otherwise have access to these persons.
We provide information that allows our people to make critical personal choices.
We have seen the depth of poverty that many of our countrymen and countrywomen face daily. We continue to see suffering and corruption. Equally, we have seen triumph and glory. We tell these stories day after day, night after night with the hope that someone, somewhere will hear and take a different approach to their situations that will positively impact their reality and our future as a country.
We recognise that we as journalists are not immune to what we see. Some of us are victims of criminal activities, some are victims of unfair treatment within our own environment. In our quest to be objective at all times, we often fail to stand up for our own causes.
Access to the public
Our failure is in not recognising that press freedom is as much a matter of providing access to the public to express themselves freely and maintaining firewalls to guard against boardroom and special interests' abuse, as it is also the ability of journalists to do their jobs without the deliberate and sometimes systematic pressures of eking out an existence way beneath the poverty line.
We must stand firmly against working in a climate where payola and other forms of corruption become almost a necessary consideration as we are called upon to do more, simply because new and emerging technology demand it, without any thought of how these new realities impact on our own already meagre personal resources.
We may be reluctant to admit that we are in fact role models to many, and as role models we must put on a positive face of prosperity, even as we struggle to feed young families, grapple with too-long working hours and serve a nation that is desperate for change.
I urge our fraternity to look within, seek out ways in which we can continue to stand together on critical national causes. We must also pool our energies to address press freedom matters that affect each and every one of us in real and personal ways.
We fight for changes to the libel laws, we speak out firmly for the right of freedom of expression, the right to know, the right for our people to pursue happiness and live in a secure and just society, then we go home and suffer in silence.
If it is that we intend to live in Jamaica land we love, we must agree that things must be done differently, and as we peddle our truth, rights and integrity, we must be prepared to speak up for ourselves. It is only then that we can speak up for others with confidence and without fear or favour.
May National Journalism Week 2012 be the turning point for journalists and this democracy we seek to serve.